Tag Archives: Theodore Roosevelt

Book Review: “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt” by Edmund Morris

The great thing about reading Edmund Morris is two-fold: he presents extremely thorough research with a enjoyable reading style that makes one feel like they are reading fiction. As a friend put it, it’s like reading a novel, not a biography. It doesn’t hurt that Theodore Roosevelt lived a life that makes easy picking for any biographer.

The first in Edmund Morris’ three part biography of the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt lived a life full to the brim. Born sickly, he had overcome physical ailments and “built courage by ‘sheer dint of practicing fearlessness.'” Indeed, his life reads in a crescendo that leaves other men wanting:

  • Published author at 18, of “The Naval War of 1812,” a classic that would go on to find a place in the textbooks for both US and British naval academies.
  • Married at 22, father and widower at 25, husband again at 28.
  • Acclaimed historian and New York Assemblyman at 25.
  • North Dakota ranchman at 26
  • Candidate for New York City Mayor at 27
  • Civil Service Commissioner of the United States at 30
  • Police Commissioner of New York City at 36
  • Assistant Secretary of the Navy at 38 (and author of the plan that defeated the Spanish in Manila under Admiral Dewey)
  • Colonel of the First U.S. Cavalry, the “Rough Riders”  and a war hero at 39 (yes, he left a near cabinet level position to ride in the cavalry)
  • Governor of New York two weeks short of his 40th birthday
  • Vice President at 42…

And that’s just in the first book. Making his living as a working writer, Roosevelt read over 20,000 books and writing fifteen of his own, not to mention speaking French and German, developing and maintaining relationships with numerous leaders in fields scientific, intellectual, and philosophical. His mind was a steel trap and his life steam engine, gaining speed and momentum.

He was a man who was a lifelong learner, knew no bounds to his interests or abilities, and never stopped trying to reach further. Although born to priviledge, Theodore took nothing for granted, and he took every advantage he could to work, read, exercise, challenge himself, and expand his reach. It’s an example that inspires me, and it’s one we could all use.

In a day where people talk a lot and actually do less, Roosevelt reminds us of the power of action, of doing, and that it is those who do that make a difference.

If you’re looking for a readable biography of one of our most colorful presidents, before he was president, pick up Edmund Morris’ “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt.”

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Tonight’s books, courtesy of the Salt Lake County Library

Word. Got a couple good looking books from the library tonight. It’s within walking distance, so if I put the kids in the stroller and take them with, I get new books to peruse and read, the kids pick out some new books, and I get at least a modicum of exercise….if just.

The books? I’ll spare you the fun ones and just share the more interesting of the titles.

How about you? What have you started reading this week?
(And, yes, I admit it: I also picked up sundry novels of low brow sci-fi and fantasy…but who’s keeping track?)

In California, anything is possible…maybe even “Fat History Month.”

Sometimes, laws don’t make sense. They’re the result of an agenda forced on the majority by a loud and influential minority. The law doesn’t reflect good public policy, just a successful lobbying effort.

California‘s recent dictate to schools to teach the benefits of gays and lesbians to history is one such law. If people thought the Utah legislature’s micromanagement of civics lessons was a little myopic and, well, unnecessary, then this is even more so.

The state has become the first in the nation to require textbooks and history classes to cover the contributions of gay, lesbian and transgendered Americans.

A good friend of mine, known to the world by her nom de plume Salt H2O, put it sarcastically well:

As a former four eyes who was bullied for her glasses I would like to push for ‘eyesight impaired’ history. I don’t want a whole month. I’d just like it to be pointed out in text books the great people of this nation who wore corrective lenses.

Another group that should be up in arms over SB 48 are the obese. Fat kids get teased at an earlier age than homosexuals, and there are exponentially more fat people than homosexuals in our country.  We need Fat History Month to appreciate the metabolically challenged that contributed to this great country so that our fat children will not get bullied because they have a hankering for a Twinkie.

via My Soapbox: Fat History Month.

Maybe she has a point. Certainly President William Howard Taft might get a page or two in the fat metabolically challenged history book. Weighing in at well over 300 pounds when he left office, there is no doubt that he would qualify to “fit” the requirements.

But wait, you say. He’s already well reported in history. He served as President of the United States, an Ohio Supreme Court justice, a US Circuit Court judge, as Governor of the Philippines, and Secretary of War under Theodore Roosevelt, not to mention Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and the only former President to administer the oath of office to another President. He was a very accomplished man.

And he was, at 5’11” and 290 pounds when he took office, very much in the obese category.

Why must history be revised and taught according to the gender, sexuality, race, or, for that matter, weight categorization? Why not just teach the history that matters, the history that affects us, and leave it at that? Leave out the classifications that label people, and let them be what they are: humans being humans, for better or for worse.

It should not matter if that human was white, black, gay or straight, skinny or fat, male or female. If that person has affected history, teach it.

And, in the meantime, spend more time in schools focusing on the skills that actually matter and that are being forgetting in the culture wars and agendas pushed by minority groups. I’m talking math, reading, writing, and science. It won’t really matter what people think about sexual orientation if they get to college and can’t write, or read, a complete sentence…if they can get in, at all.

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“…the best thing you can do…”

Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United St...
Image via Wikipedia

“In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Theodore Roosevelt