Hello to the void!
“Never never, you must never either of you remind a man at work on a political job that he may be President. It almost always kills him politically. He loses his nerve;he can’t do his work;he gives up the very traits that are making him a possibility. I, for instance, I am going to do great things here, hard things that require all the courage ability, work that I am capable of…But if I get to thinking of what it might lead to– I must not, I’ll be careful, calculating, cautious in word and act, and so – I’ll beat myself. See?”
– Theodore Roosevelt as Police Commissioner of New York City in 1895 to Jake Riis
Teddy Roosevelt is known as either the guy on Mount Rushmore or as the manic grinning mustached young president. By the age of 42, when he inherited the presidency after McKinley was assassinated, he was a published author, respected historian and naturalist, city inspector, popular legislature, deputy secretary of the Navy, and a renowned army captain among other things. He is most famously known for his presidency breaking the monopolies and establishing the US navy as a world class power.
Often the first thing people realize about the Roosevelts is that they were rich. The Roosevelts came over to New York when it was still New Netherlands, settled, and did very well for themselves afterwards. By the time the 1860’s came, the Roosevelts were in the same social sphere as the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers. We are not talking about your average upper class family here. This is multiple houses over New England, multiple tours of Europe, a YUUUGE library, servants, and private tutors. Despite or more accurately in spite of all this, the family wasn’t without its troubles. It was divided by the Civil War, Theodore had two siblings die before the age of 10, He himself was sickly and people didn’t think that he would last past his fifth birthday. Obviously he did, but it took more than a little determination on his part. The combination of asthma and stomach issues could kill an adult much less an undersized boy. Looking at his later photographs, it is hard to believe that mortality could touch such a vibrant man, but eventually it does. That is a tale for a different day though.
This biography was the first volume in a set of three. It detailed his life from his childhood to the moment he got the telegram detailing that McKinley had been shot. It is a good read with a tendency to suck you in like a novel or story would. It is very clear with an event -> to event -> to event plot style. This is a good one and not one that people see often in biographies. Most biographies are about as slow as a combination of cold molasses and the Lord of the Rings. I love and adore both but sometimes it is a bit much. This biography was refreshing in that it was thorough but had a quick enough pace that you couldn’t help but be sucked into the story.
Time to Read
One Week and right before finals as well.
8.5 out of 10 words