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Donald Tunnicliff Rice 

December 2016          
PB 978-1-943665-43-3
Cl 978-1-943665-42-6
epub 978-1-943665-44-0
PDF 978-1-943665-45-7


In 1898, when war with Spain seemed inevitable, Andrew Summers Rowan, an American army lieutenant from West Virginia, was sent on a secret mission to Cuba. He was to meet with General Calixto García, a leader of the Cuban rebels, in order to gather information for a U.S. invasion. Months later, after the war was fought and won, a flamboyant entrepreneur named Elbert Hubbard wrote an account of Rowan’s mission titled “A Message to Garcia.” It sold millions of copies, and Rowan became the equivalent of a modern-day rock star. His fame resulted in hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, radio shows, and two movies. Even today he is held up as an exemplar of bravery and loyalty. The problem is that nothing Hubbard wrote about Rowan was true.

Donald Tunnicliff Rice reveals the facts behind the story of “A Message to Garcia” while using Rowan’s biography as a window into the history of the Spanish-American War, the Philippine War, and the Moro Rebellion. The result is a compellingly written narrative containing many details never before published in any form, and also an accessible perspective on American diplomatic and military history in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.




1. “It is meritorious to be a boy at West Point”                    

2. Becoming an Intelligence Officer                

3. “A Most Perilous Undertaking”                 

4. America Takes a Step towards Empire                  

5. The Creation of an American Myth                       

6. Exactly Where Are the Philippines?                       

7. A Glorious Undertaking                 

8. Captain Rowan in Command                     

9. An Idyllic Spot to Spend the War              

10. Major Rowan in Love and War              

11. The Complexities of Retirement   

12. The Myth Lives On        



Selected Bibliography 



Donald Tunnicliff Rice is the author of The Agitator and How to Publish Your Own Magazine, and the winner of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Achievement Award. He has been employed as a history textbook writer, technical editor, and advertising copywriter. His writings have appeared in periodicals ranging from the New York Times to the Journal of Caribbean Literature.


“Rice interweaves personal and national history to outline major shifts in expansionist activity under McKinley and Roosevelt. . . . Readers who thrill to the particulars of life in military camps will find much to enjoy here.”
Publishers Weekly

"Both authoritative and entertaining."
Caribbean Studies

“The story of Andrew Summers Rowan is very much worth telling, and it's difficult to imagine it being told better than in this book.”
Peter Hulme, author of Cuba’s Wild East: A Literary Geography of Oriente

“What makes this book so fascinating is the way in which the author weaves Andrew Rowan’s personal story into the greater history of American imperial expansion under McKinley and Roosevelt. Both general readers and scholars interested in West Virginia history and, especially, in the complex history of the U.S.’s war against Spain and subsequent ascension over the Philippines will find a great deal to admire.”
Brady Harrison, author of Agent of Empire: William Walker and the Imperial Self in American Literature

“Cast in Deathless Bronze is well worth reading. Rowan's story not only intersects with West Virginia history, but it reconstructs early military efforts at intelligence-gathering, reveals the many aspects—the tedious and lonely, the fulfilling and frustrating—of military life on the late nineteenth-century western frontier and in Cuba and the Philippines, and illustrates effectively the way history is often twisted into a myth that overwhelms both the actions of its original participants and truth itself.”
West Virginia History