Like so many readers I am drawn to biographies. I recently picked up a biography on Teddy Roosevelt because I have been intrigued by his almost mythical status in American folklore. Upon seeing Lewis L. Gould’s shorter (100 page) biography on Roosevelt I knew I could not pass it up.
The book is a brisk walk through cavernous museum that is Roosevelt’s life. In this sense it serves to whet your appetite for more while providing a solid introduction to the man who seemed almost larger than life.
It is hard to imagine Roosevelt standing on the public stage in our day. His personality and celebrity status would be magnified even greater than it was in the early 1900’s. Consider the images of him riding with the cowboys in the Midwest or training for the Spanish-American War with his rough-riders! Imagine his opposition to Presidents Taft and Wilson in the day of social media? But Roosevelt was a man for his time and a man for the nation. His shrewdness matched with his celebrity status to keep him in the national spotlight and impact change in our quickly developing industrial country.
Three images from the book stuck out to me:
First, the sudden death of Roosevelt’s first wife Alice. After her surprising and tragic death Roosevelt named his daughter after her but refused to call her by name out of the pain of remembering her. This guy who was larger than life was stung repeatedly by the pains of life.
Second, the image of Roosevelt training a band of men to go to war in Cuba. I cannot imagine seeing him and his mustache riding about and charging the hills. It seems like something out of an old movie.
Third, Roosevelt’s appointment of Gifford Pinchot to set policy for stewardship of national forests. In doing so he created nearly 200 national parks. This commitment while perhaps strange at the time, is an enduring benediction on the leader who loved this country and nature.
The book moves quickly but not overwhelmingly so. If you are looking for a relatively quick but informative introduction to Theodore Roosevelt, then this is a good choice.
It is currently on sale at Amazon here (kindle).