Is it possible that the famous duel between Hamilton and Burr was part of a judgment against the two by a secret society they formed decades prior to create an American shadow government? This story, telling of the lives of two great rivals, lies somewhere between a Robert E. Howard pastiche and a Yankee version of Thomas Dixon Jr. Rival Caesars is a fantasy Revolutionary War tale by the man who penned the infamous philippic titled Might is Right.
Arthur Desmond, who wrote as Ragnar Redbeard, here uses the nom de guerre Desmond Dilg. Might is Right ends thus: "P.S. Book II will be issued when circumstances demand it." The 1903 novel Rival Caesars is that book.
Preceding his time as one of the earliest proponents of an American Nietzscheanism, Desmond was an Antipodean radical, fighting in the streets alongside anarcho-communists and trade unionists. He stood for election as a labor candidate and promoted Georgism to both Māori and Europeans in New Zealand and Australia. Fleeing the law, he settled in America among the Chicago bohemian scene, and his radicalism turned from collective rights to individualist might.
While Might is Right was intended as an awakening call for "mighty men of valor," Rival Caesars is the plan of action, plotted out under the guise of a historical romance. This novel is nothing short of a rallying cry to an American Caesar to claim their share of pelf, prominence, and prestige in the vein of Napoleon or Cecil Rhodes.
Incredibly rare for nearly a century, here, finally, is an accessible and beautifully designed paperback edition, with an authoritative introductory essay by Darrell W. Conder. While it will never be as infamous as its predecessor, Rival Caesars is the ultimate book by the man known as Ragnar Redbeard.