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A very brief resource on the life of Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919).

Gould (American History Emeritus/Univ. of Texas; The Most Exclusive Club: A History of the Modern United States Senate, 2005, etc.) extracts significantly from his previous pertinent works on Roosevelt, Taft and the Progressive era. The character depicted here is one of decisive action, charisma and accidental fame (his accelerating celebrity status served his causes as naturalist and reformer). Underestimated early in his career by the Republican Party he tirelessly stumped for, he eventually secured GOP appointments in Benjamin Harrison’s Civil Service Commission, then as President McKinley’s assistant secretary of the Navy in 1897. Contrary to later mythmaking, Roosevelt “did not bring on the war” with Spain over the Philippines, but he embraced the hostilities enthusiastically. His Rough Riders’ valiant efforts to take the San Juan Heights in Cuba gained him enormous acclaim at home, paving the way for two years as New York governor and making him the attractive vice-presidential choice for McKinley. Using the “bully pulpit” of the now-renamed White House, his Square Deal instituted sweeping reforms such as breaking up monopolies, mediating with striking miners, acquiring the Panama Canal Zone, ensuring government regulation in the Pure Food and Drug Act, including women in the democratic process and conserving the natural world from degradation. His years after the White House were largely spent planning how to get back in, and his Progressive Party platform of 1912 laid out an agenda “that was far more reformist than that of any Democratic or Republican presidential nominees until the New Deal.”

A bare-bones summary that is even shorter and somewhat less eloquent than Louis Auchincloss’ Roosevelt bio (2002) in the Times/Holt presidential series.

Pub Date: Jan. 6th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-19-979701-1
Page count: 104pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2011


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