The Distributed Proofreaders project has continued adding eBooks to Project Gutenberg using images from our Digital Library. The latest release is the first issue of Starry Flag Weekly, a weekly series about the adventures of a young American boy during the Spanish-American War of 1898.
Under Blanco’s Eye; or, Hal Maynard among the Cuban Insurgents sets up the story to come, with Hal Maynard, the series’ young protagonist, being trapped in a hostile Cuba while trying to look after his employer’s interests. After being rescued from corrupt Spanish officials by a young Cuban, he decides to join the resistance and proves himself an effective strategist on the battlefield.
Dime novels had a long history of exploiting current events to sell novels, and this series is a striking example of that strategy. Claiming to be written by an author observing the conflict from the front lines, these stories were clearly designed to stoke American patriotism and advance the narrative of an unambiguous scenario in which the Spanish were uniformly evil, the Cubans long-suffering but noble and heroic, and the Americans ready to ride in and save the day. Needless to say, the real historical scenario was significantly more complex. In any case, new adventures incorporating the latest headlines about the war appeared on a weekly basis until the conflict ended and the market consequently dried up.
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