THEODORE ROOSEVELT: A Life by Nathan Miller
Kirkus Star

THEODORE ROOSEVELT: A Life

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Appropriately big and vigorous life of the 26th President, by Miller (Stealing from America, p. 772; F.D. R., 1982, etc.). Despite his modern-day reputation as an imperialist and worse, Roosevelt emerges from Miller's pages--the first major one-volume life of TR since William Henry Harbaugh's Power and Responsibility (1961)--as a tremendously energetic reformer and moral beacon on the issues of his age. He took on corrupt politicians and bureaucrats throughout his career, and he instituted federal regulation of food and drug purity and of rapacious big business. Miller details the Roosevelt myth--TR's willful growth from puny scion to Rough Rider to ""big stick"" President--and finds it to be largely accurate, but the author concentrates less on the public man and more on his relations with close associates. Described by Lord Morley as ""a cross between St. Vitus and St. Paul,"" Roosevelt was perceived by his friend Henry Adams as having ""that singular primitive quality that belongs to ultimate matter--the quality that medieval theology assigned to God--he was pure act."" Roosevelt's career rose meteorically from his election to the New York State Senate, and by age 24 he was the most famous politician in the state. Yet his personal life was marred by tragedy: HIS beloved first wife, Alice, died at 22 of a kidney disease; and his brother Elliot (father of Eleanor) died of an alcoholic seizure. Miller masters not only Roosevelt but fascinating ancillary facts as well--e.g., how TR's secretary of state, John Hay, while a young reporter, traced the origin of the Great Chicago Fire to Mrs. O'Leary's infamous cow. A sympathetic, detailed, tremendously readable account of the eventful life of our most energetic, irrepressible President.

Pub Date: Nov. 11th, 1992
Page count: 542pp
Publisher: Morrow