Showing posts with label roosevelt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label roosevelt. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Signal Watch Reads: Colonel Roosevelt (2010) - audiobook



In college I started reading up a bit on Theodore Roosevelt.  If you're reading American History of the 20th Century, he's a figure that looms incredibly large, and I wasn't the first History major to take an interest.  In fact, my instructor for my "Presidents and the Press" course was a bit of a Roosevelt scholar, and when it came time to write a paper and I was asking him for topics on TR, he told me to forget it - there was nothing new to research, and sent me down the path of researching a minor scandal during the Wilson administration (and that's when I turned on Wilson).  

To Dr. Gould's point, there's a lot of stuff out there both about and by Theodore Roosevelt.  And, no, an undergrad history major who wanted to write about the Panama Canal or Russian/ Japanese peace treaty wasn't going to produce any original scholarship on the matter.  You begin with reading about TR's great deeds and see him as a champion you can't believe has become something of an obscure lost-uncle figure to many Americans in comparison to FDR (or even his niece, Eleanor), but, much like Shaft, TR is a complicated man.

Colonel Roosevelt (2010) is the third in a triptych of biographies by Edmund Morris.  The first to arrive came out in 1979, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, but I wouldn't read it until about 2001 on a trip with Jamie's family.  On a personal note - reading that book on the porch of a cabin in Minnesota and taking long breaks to fish, cook fish and eat fish, was maybe some the most pleasant few days I can ever recall.  The second installment, Theodore Rex, arrived in 2002, and really covered the era of Roosevelt's presidency (and for anyone who thinks our current administration is acting with unprecedented imperial-like authority, my friends...  not even close).

The third installment, Colonel Roosevelt, covers the era between Roosevelt departing office until his death.  If you think a post-presidency career for Roosevelt was one of quiet solitude, well... (a) your understanding of 20th Century Presidential Politics needs a refresher, and (b) you are so, so wrong.

One day I will read a Roosevelt biography and reach the descriptions of his death and funeral and not get weepy, but, today is not this day.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Having a Rough Valentine's Day? You Got Nothing on Theodore Roosevelt

Just a few years out of Harvard, Theodore Roosevelt was living in New York City in the Roosevelt family home with his mother, his father having had passed just a few years before.  He was an incredibly young, brash and vocal member of the New York State Assembly and so was in Albany when he received word his wife had gone into labor with their first child.

He raced home, and en route received word his wife was gravely ill.  By the time he arrived home, the child was born and his wife was comatose.  She passed on the 14th.

At the same time in the same house, his mother also died of typhoid.

This is the entry from Roosevelt's diary on that terrible day.

goddamn, that's heartbreaking

Roosevelt responded to all this by quitting politics, buying a ranch in South Dakota and becoming a cowboy.  That is, until the call to New York politics became too much and he went on to become the TR we all know and love (and fear).

The baby survived, becoming the completely out-of-control Alice Roosevelt, about which TR, as President, once said "I can either run the country or I can control Alice, but I cannot possibly do both."

So, as you throw your pity party for yourself that you're not having a good Valentine's Day, remember - you could have gotten on Tinder today and resolved your issue.  And, you're certainly not responding to any of this in ways that are generally recognized as totally bad-ass, a la President Roosevelt and his cowboy-solution.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Happy 157th Birthday, Colonel Roosevelt


Today marks the 157th Birthday of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, and, undoubtedly, one of the most fascinating human beings you can read about.

I've lost count of how many Roosevelt books I've read, and each one reveals another layer of the man.  Modern Americans would do well to study the challenges of his Presidency as they truly can provide instruction as to how history is nothing but a series of repeating circumstances, and the choices Roosevelt and his contemporaries made might shed light on our own path forward.

Of course, Roosevelt is most famous for his boisterous personality, his rich history of service, and his spirit of travel and adventure - all of which begins with a series of tragic preambles from his own ill health as a child, to the tragic death of his father, to the death of his mother and wife on the same day.  And even how he dealt with personal calamity can be instructive:  go be a cowboy.

The man was deeply flawed, had an outsized ego and the propensity to be a tyrant and make up his own laws when convenient.  He shattered his own party, handled some sensitive events better than others (the coal strike - pretty well, the Brownsville incident is still a mark of shame on his record), and had difficulty with personal relationships when they damaged his pride in any way, shape or form.

To have personal heroes as an adult is a difficult task.  You have to accept and admit that everyone is flawed, but its the nature of those flaws and what they did in spite or because of them that you can come to an understanding of what you value and your own ideals.

I am uncertain if Theodore Roosevelt is a personal hero.  Maybe I should be more of a Taft man, or James Garfield.  But there's something stirring about Roosevelt, and just keeping up with him in books recounting events moving ever further into the past can still be exhilarating.

Here's to our 26th Preisdent, the hero of Kettle Hill/ San Juan Hill.  The Governor of New York.  The Assistant Secretary of the Navy.  The Commissioner of the Police of New York City.  The New York State Assemblyman.  The cowboy.  The naturalist.  The explorer. The big game hunter.  The conservationists.  The elitist.  The progressive.  The soldier.  The son.  The father.

Here's to TR on his birthday.  Let us always celebrate the man for what he was - all the greatness and faults of America, all the things we could be and shouldn't be, all in one man.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

SW Reads: The Bully Pulpit - Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and The Golden Age of Journalism

I think Picky Girl recommended this one.  I dunno.  She'll have to chime in.

He's talking about Roosevelt and Taft again.  Safe to close the post and move on,

At some point in college on a lark I picked up the Henry Pringle biography of Theodore Roosevelt, and - like a lot of folks who happened to read something about TR - ever since I've found no end to the interest in reading not just about the man, but about his times.  His political career is astounding, complete with stumbling backward into the presidency, where his reputation grew to such proportions that the US included his face on Mt. Rushmore with Lincoln, Jefferson and Washington.

I read a few reviews before putting finger to keyboard for this post, because I knew a Doris Kearns Goodwin book would have already generated plenty of bits in the press.  As evidence of the vitality of the material covered, I almost laughed when I saw what a big percentage of both reviews was dedicated not to discussing the book, but to discussing what the book covers, like a little mini-historical synopsis.

So, I'll keep it brief.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

President's Day! Late Edition. William Howard Taft, #27

Dammit, just look at that magnificent bastard.

Howard Taft, sometimes known as "The Pimpest of Presidents"

It's my opinion that of all the presidents, William Howard Taft gets the shaft most routinely and most undeservedly.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Theodore Roosevelt!

Jake's blog informs me that today is the birthday of Theodore Roosevelt, the most interesting president in the world.

Born this day, 1858, in New York City.

Who WOULDN'T vote for this guy?
Rather than sum up the man and his achievements I shall start by recommending some light reading:

  • The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
  • Theodore Rex
  • Colonel Roosevelt all by Edmund Morris.


The River of Doubt by Candice Millard
The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt by a former professor I had at UT, Lewis L. Gould (he was awesome.)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

No Post Tuesday - TR edition


One of the first disagreements Jamie and I had when moving in together was about whether or not I could purchase and hang a portrait of Theodore Roosevelt in the living room.  I was told I could not.  Eventually, I married her anyway.

I think that one day I will get my Roosevelt portrait.

Also, its probably time to crack that 3rd Roosevelt volume.