A warm, poignant picture of the relationship between Theodore Roosevelt and his six remarkable children, based on previously unpublished family letters, papers, and interviews. Renehan (John Burroughs: An American Naturalist, 1992) finds that all the children of T.R., especially his four sons, grew up in the heady light of their father's dashing charge up San Juan Ridge at Santiago, Cuba, during the Spanish-American War: The young Roosevelts were taught to fight for an honorable cause with a great sense of duty; boys and girls alike ""absorbed or inherited his reckless, all-or-nothing approach to hazards."" Ethel, a daughter who observed the pain of battle while serving in a Paris military hospital, felt that the family's happiness at Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay, Long Island, would be offset by their sad (if heroic) experiences during the Great War. The two oldest boys, Theodore Jr., and Archie, were indeed both seriously wounded; Quentin, the baby of the family, would be killed in aerial combat. T.R.'s martial, patriotic spirit undeniably lived on in his children, though he was saddened by the simultaneous deaths of his wife, Alice, and of his mother. He was never the same after the demise of Quentin. Even so, his equally beloved second wife, Edith, sustained him in his last illness. Renehan's research leaves us with the portrait of a dearly loved father and grandfather who doted on his children without spoiling them and became an unforgettable role model. A postscript: Both Ted Jr., and Kermit died in uniform in WWII. Ted Jr. won the Medal of Honor in Normandy for leading his men ashore. An unusual view of the human side of an extraordinary public figure.
Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998
Page Count: 336
Publisher: Oxford Univ.
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1998
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