Friday, June 30, 2017

Lion in the White House: A Life of Theodore Roosevelt by Aida D. Donald

I thought the forceful drive of Richard Strauss' Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme Suite Op. 60 was an appropriate accompaniment to today's review about a man whose forceful and driving personality changed the face and global reputation of the United States.

Lion in the White House: A Life of Theodore RooseveltLion in the White House: A Life of Theodore Roosevelt by Aida D. Donald

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a brief biography of Theodore Roosevelt focusing primarily on his years prior to becoming president, all he accomplished as president and finally how he spent his time in the few years remaining to him after leading his country and shaping into a world power.

Anyone born with a silver spoon in his mouth as Roosevelt did, would most likely enjoy life to the fullest, travel, hunt, marry well and pretty much make a jolly good time of his life.

That is in fact what Teddy did, but his sense of bon vivre was accompanied with a strong sense of noblesse oblige; that he must change the wrongs being committed against the impoverished and discriminated and in order to do that, he must arise into a position that empowered him to do so.

His first gubernatorial experience was in New York and leader of the Republican party, where he almost singlehandedly kicked out the corrupt crime bosses who were running much of the business, both private and public. As a member of the New York City Commission he radically restructured the New York police force.

This did not endear him to many and it woke up a cranky House and Senate who were well content to sit idly by and not rock a political boat that was already firmly entrenched, but Teddy was his father's child and he accomplished what his father so passionately believed in, but died too early to effect.

Later, he served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President McKinley. Others in office found Roosevelt troublesome and in an effort to neuter him they elected him to become McKinley's Vice President where they believed he could do no harm.

Roosevelt understood just exactly how much a Vice Presidency was worth so after campaigning for McKinley, he went out west to enjoy himself living the Cowboy fantasy.

But then McKinley was assassinated and Roosevelt found himself President.

There are a number of long reaching feats that Roosevelt accomplished. To name a few:

He developed a powerful navy that allowed the U.S. to acquisition the Philippians and picked up the mantle the French left in Panama and finished the Canal there. America became a world power under Roosevelt.

Roosevelt preserved great swaths of land from private ownership and established National Parks.

He culled racially discriminatory hiring practices. He scandalized the south by having Booker T Washington to the White House.

It's interesting that many of the causes and beliefs Roosevelt held have been made a part of the contemporary Democratic platform, at least rhetorically, but Roosevelt was a Republican.

When Woodrow Wilson became president and WWI loomed ahead, Teddy roared at Wilson's inaction. But Wilson had become president based on his pacifist platform, he wasn't about to jeopardize that. This drove Roosevelt almost insane and he considered running for president. He did not win and his health soon swallowed up any future in politics.

I wonder what turn history would have taken if Teddy Roosevelt had become president instead of Wilson during WWI.

We'll never know.

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  1. "where sheep may safely graze"... something illusively magical about some Bach pieces that's very attractive...
    TR's rep is better now than it has been for a long time.... wonder why... haha..
    sounds like an interesting book with a lot of good information...
    finished with the kitchen sink and got sick/went to the doctor/poked and prodded/some virus(probably from many trips to Home Depot) had blood drawn: i commented during the process, "who would have thought the old man had so much blood in him" no reaction what so ever; i was chagrined that nobody knows Hamlet anymore...(Hamlet, of course, after stabbing Polonius through the arras)... have a nice day...

    1. Where Sheep May Safely Graze is a favorite of mine (from a favorite composer). I've played it on the organ many times for many occasions.

      I think this book is good although I don't know if there are better bios out there. It was a tiny bit dry perhaps.

      Sorry to hear about you getting sick. I'm still recovering a little from the kidney stones. The good news is I have made my deductible and am now seeing a host of doctors I should have seen a long time ago. The cat scan from the ER showed some other stuff I need to deal with. Oh well. C'est la vie.

      Sorry you had an illiterate LPN. My personal grievance is when people find I'm a reader and say, "Oh! I'm a reader too!"

      But they mean they read Amish Romance or the Twilight series (maybe I shouldn't say that; it's gotten me in trouble before)or some such similar "light reads". Hey, I'm not against the occasional light read but if that's ALL you read, you're a reader like chewing bubble gum means you're eating.

      There, I'm a total snob. I admit it.

      Have a good weekend and hope the you can finally relax in your renovated home.

    2. LOL re the chewing gum thing!!

  2. Great post Sharon.

    I find Roosevelt a fascinating figure who is mostly also admirable. I have not read a biography of him. I would like to read one soon. I would probably look for none that is fairly long and detailed.

    1. Hi Brian. I would recommend this one. It's not too long, maybe not the best, I don't know. McCullough's Mornings on Horseback is very good but it stops before he becomes president.

      Have a good weekend!

  3. Thanks, Sharon, for introducing me to another TR bio that I want to read. I have a couple on my iPad/Kindle to be read, one on my shelf that I read (McCullough's superb book), and now I have your recommendation. Whew! I better get a move on my reading!

    1. Hi Tim! Hope you get his book and enjoy it. Have a great remainder of the weekend.

  4. Interesting! Back in April I enjoyed touring the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Historic Site in Buffalo, NY. It was a well done exhibit that made you feel what it really must have felt like for him to step into McKinley's shoes at such short and tragic notice. It does make you wonder what would have changed in history (esp. during WWII) if presidential voting had gone a different way.

    1. HI Marcia. I would love to visit that museum. I used to live in New Jersey and now I am far away, but that would be worth a trip.

      I now have to go read your article on tiny tiny books. I look forward to seeing what you have to say.


I welcome comments from anyone with a mutual interest in the subjects I written about.