Kirkus Reviews QR Code


The Unlikely Friendship of Theodore Roosevelt and Joseph Bucklin Bishop

by Chip Bishop

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7627-7754-9
Publisher: Lyons Press

A freelance journalist debuts with an account of the little-known relationship between a powerful journalist and a president.

The author has much on his narrative plate. The social and political history of the early 20th century, the biographies of Roosevelt and Bishop, the story of the Panama Canal—all figure prominently. Bishop, 12 years older that Roosevelt, outlived the bully president by nearly a decade. The author, who is Bishop’s great-grandnephew, begins with the 1919 death of Roosevelt, then devotes some chapters to the lives of his principals before they met, cutting back and forth between them. Bishop, a so-so student at Brown, moved to New York City, where he gradually ascended journalism’s ladder until he was writing popular editorials for the New York Evening Post. Interwoven is the progress of Roosevelt through young manhood and his initial government posts, including his appointment as New York City police commissioner, a job that soon connected him with Bishop. The author writes that there was no magic moment of meeting, but they both realized the other’s value. Though Bishop did not always support Roosevelt’s actions, he did so with enough frequency that when his journalism career was collapsing, he landed a position with the Panama Canal Commission, a position that caused some in Congress to cry cronyism. The author, responding that his ancestor worked hard and did well, quotes generously from the many letters between the two and from secondary sources on Roosevelt, the block quotations from which sometimes make his text look like a term paper.

An engaging tour of the busy intersection where history, politics, journalism and power converge.