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The Strenuous Life The short biographies that form the American Presidents series do an admirable job in capturing the heart of the accomplishments and characters of our country's leaders. Some of the volumes succeed further in offering, in addition to an introduction, challenging reassessments of their subject's place in history.

Bunting's book on Grant and Diggins's study of John Adams are in this latter category.

Theodore Roosevelt: The American Presidents Series: The 26th President, 1901-1909

With a leader as complex and energetic as Theodore Roosevelt, - The Strenuous Life The short biographies that form the American Presidents series do an admirable job in capturing the heart of the accomplishments and characters of our country's leaders. With a leader as complex and energetic as Theodore Roosevelt, - , the task of a brief portrayal is daunting indeed.

Louis Auchincloss has generally succeeded in offering a portrait of TR and his presidency that will serve for basic information. For a more complex and detailed view, the book should encourage the reader to explore further. The phrase aptly describes TR and his era. A sickly child born to great wealth, the twelve-year old TR took seriously his father's injunction to "make your body! TR became a dynamo, moving out west to become the owner of a cattle ranch in Dakota in the s and leading the fabled charge of the Rough Riders up San Juan Hill in Cuba during the Spanish-American War.

In the midst of a busy life, TR found time to write about 40 books, including his autobiography and innumerable letters. In his politics, TR developed a unique position as a Republican party regular and as a progressive. He served in the s' as a New York State assemblyman and as Governor of New York, among other accomplishments, before being called to the vice-presidency.

He became the 26th president upon the death of McKinley in , and then was elected to a term of his own. TR famously declined to run for a second elected term, a decision he lived to regret. TR's presidency had many accomplishments, striking out in as many directions as the man himself.

He was a trust-buster who believed in American capitalism, individualism and business. He was also a famous conservationist. In foreign policy, he was a mixture of calmness and bellicosity, acquiring the Panama Canal, expanding the Navy, and receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for settling a dispute between Russia and Japan.

Theodore Roosevelt by Louis Auchincloss

Following his term, TR took a lengthy safari as a big-game hunter in Africa and upon his return became disillusioned with the presidency of his chosen successor, William H. TR bolted the Republican party and, alas, took the progressives with him. The split in the GOP between its progressives and its conservatives has lasted to this day. The immediate result was the election of Woodrow Wilson to the presidency. Auchincloss tells the story of TR simply and well. But I came away from this book curious to know more.

In particular, I would have liked to learn more about TR's writings, some of which are available in a two-volume set published by the Library of America.

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Auchincloss evidences a certain skepticism about TR, pointing out ways in which TR's America, as well as TR's values, differ from contemporary America and from the choices of many contemporary Americans. As explained by Auchincloss, these values, which seem closely interrelated, center upon TR's elevation of the worth of toughness -- "machismo", -- his sexual restraint and even prudery, and his views on the relationship between men and women, which today would commonly be regarded as sexist.

I remain fascinated with TR's strength, vigor, and sense of purpose, combined with his high powers of intellect. His forcefulness and belief in our country, tempered as it usually was with prudence, still has much to teach us. Robin Friedman This volume, part of Schlesinger's "The American Presidents" series, ably accomplishes its task. The purpose of these books is to bring fantastic writers of which Auchincloss certainly is one before a general reader looking for a survey biography of a particular president.

There is little to no original material and few original insights, but that is not the purpose. Auchincloss's goal is a general summary for the casual reader of history who is interested in getting a "quick and dirty" accoun This volume, part of Schlesinger's "The American Presidents" series, ably accomplishes its task. Auchincloss's goal is a general summary for the casual reader of history who is interested in getting a "quick and dirty" account.

He accomplishes this goal admirably. The book provides an early glimpse into Roosevelt's childhood, and therefore his later psychology. He was clearly embarrassed by his father's decision to not actively engage in battle, and Roosevelt atones for this throughout his life with his own participation as well as expectations he placed on his own family.

Additionally, his patrician upbringing has been frequently misunderstood, according to Auchincloss, who succinctly corrects the perception of his progressive motives with the quote, "Like a Byronic hero he wanted not so much to raise the poor as to lower the proud. Exorcising his family demons he resigned and became leader of "The Rough Riders. Following McKinley's assassination, he proposed the "Square Deal" and attacked "law-defying wealth" that challenged the authority of the government.

He became known as a trust buster, and many credit his actions against established large corporations with saving the nation from revolution. He was a thoroughly progressive Republican, a political animal that was destroyed when he split the party later in his career. As president, he sought expansive powers in the office of the executive, such as railing against the Supreme Court when they did not interpret badly written laws to his satisfaction, essentially creating the Panama Canal in extra-legal fashion, and after he left the office of the President advocating positions that many contemporary allies believed undermined the fabric of liberal democracy itself.

His dissatisfaction with his successor, Taft, who did not go far enough in Roosevelt's view in his progressive ideals, caused him to split the vote after not receiving the Republican nomination for a third term. This split opened the door for Woodrow Wilson's victory. The two progressives differed only in their approach to WWI, but in other policies, were quite similar. Auchincloss quotes William Allen White on this point, who said, "Between the New Nationalism and the New Freedom was that fantastic imaginary gulf that has always existed between twiddle-dum and twiddle-dee.

Regardless of your position as two whether Roosevelt was a good or bad president, it is undeniable that he influenced American politics in a profound way, and that influence reverberates today. Feb 25, Zach Koenig rated it liked it. Usually, the "American Presidents" books that I enjoy the most are the ones that aren't so formal and are a bit more relaxed. Strange, then, that this effort from Auchincloss actually struck me as a bit TOO informal in the way that it jumps from chapter to chapter with no headings. Overall, however, this is a very good introduction to Teddy Roosevelt and provides the basics of his character.

The trouble, though, is that it fails to cover some of the main points of each President that Usually, the "American Presidents" books that I enjoy the most are the ones that aren't so formal and are a bit more relaxed. The trouble, though, is that it fails to cover some of the main points of each President that I look forward to with each book, such as the President as a child, the elections, and if applicable the transition from one term to the next.

In this case, Auchincloss really strays from the formula of most previous books in the series. While generally speaking such format changes usually appeal to me, this time it just felt as if the author focused on a lot of strange things and didn't cover "the basics" as well as should have been done. Like I said, though, this is a great intro to President Roosevelt and will especially enlighten readers about the character and personal life of our 26th President. Who better to write a biography of a blue blood patrician from old New York than another blue blood patrician from old New York?

Auchincloss's short, crisp, clean, clear sketch of Theodore Roosevelt is "bully. But I learned some new things, particularly in the latter fourth of the book, about the Republican Party and Roosevelt's relationship to it then and now! Regardless of learning something new, the reason to read this book is the writing style. Louis Auchincloss is simply brilliant. It's like he's whispering bits of facts, with some occasional gossip, in your ear probably while strolling through Central Park, or waiting for the opera to start at the Met.

Why can't all books be this damned good? This by no means is a "tell all" or the kind of book that you'll read and feel like you understood something deeper about Teddy Roosevelt. So if you're looking for that, keep searching. If you are looking for the TR highlights and lowlights, this it it. I am really enjoying the Presidents series of books. These are tight biographies, masterfully written that give you an expertly researched snapshot into the lives of the men who have held the highest office in the land.

In particular, I found this volume especially enlightening. TR is one of my favorite historical subjects. I think Auchincloss did an excellent job of capturing both the greatness and the weakness of the man. Mar 06, Fred Kohn rated it did not like it Shelves: american-presidents-series.


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After having read several excellent books in this series, I found this one deeply disappointing. It seems the author finds Roosevelt's hunting trips far more important to talk about than his Square Deal. Rather than substance, this slim volume is stuffed with Roosevelt quotes, many of which seemed rather pointless to me. I feel I hardly know any more about TR after having read this book than I did before.


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  6. Jan 09, Tim rated it liked it. Auchincloss gives a brief introduction to TR and its a fair and favorable one. Willing to ask questions and criticize Roosevelt's behavior, he also puts TR into historical context and is generally positive about Roosevelt's impact. Full of good quotes from TR and those around him, it was a quick and easy listen. May 23, Bev rated it really liked it Shelves: biography. This book is a short digest of the president but is worth reading to remember the outstanding characteristics of Roosevelt.

    Well written author has written scores of books, many fiction.

    Theodore Roosevelt: The American Presidents: The 26th President, 1901-1909

    Sometimes I felt he was trying too hard to entertain by inserting entertaining episodes rather than some that could be more informative. However it is a very good book, worth reading. Nov 11, A rated it really liked it. I would suggest this for someone wishing to gain a basic knowledge of an extremely important president. Aug 30, Alicia Joy rated it liked it.

    I thought this book was written in a style that was easy and fun to read. However, the author writes as if the reader has more knowledge of TR and that era than I think is appropriate. I feel like I lost a good part of history here because of this style. Sep 15, Curtiss rated it really liked it Shelves: biography , history , all-time-favorites. A good, albeit brief, look at the live and career of one of America's most popular and flambouyant presidents. Apr 13, Ryan Henry rated it it was ok. Apr 11, Pat Carson rated it it was ok Shelves: non-fiction , the-american-presidents-series.