Mark Twain and the Colonel tells the story of America between 1890 and 1910 through the fully engaged involvement of the era’s two most vital participants: Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt. At this pivotal moment in our history, the previously frontier-driven expansion of America was being replaced by an America that had begun to legitimately think of itself as a world power, and a dominant presence and leader on the international stage. No longer merely a successful experiment in democracy and republicanism, America saw tensions arise between those focused on which areas of American life necessitated radical progress, and which required devout preservation. Tensions like these manifested nowhere more tellingly than between our greatest humorist and our youngest President, whose warring visions of what America could and ought to be were radically different, but nevertheless laid the bedrock for modern America – its arguments, achievements, and aspirations – as we came to see it through the twentieth century, and to the present day.
Philip McFarland is the author of five earlier works of nonfiction: Sojourners, Sea Dangers: The Affair of the Somers, The Brave Bostonians: Hutchinson, Quincy, Franklin, and the Coming of the American Revolution, Hawthorne in Concord, and Loves of Harriet Beecher Stowe. He has also published two works of fiction.