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Search tags: theodore-roosevelt
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review 2018-04-14 15:01
Rough Riders Vol 2: Riders on the Storm Review
Rough Riders Vol 2: Riders on the Storm - Patrick Olliffe,Adam Glass

Source: Netgalley

 

Even though there had been several books between me experiencing Rough Riders Vol 1 and Vol 2, I found myself quickly remembering how much I liked some of the characters, and laughing at the dialogue. And, of course, anticipating a certain one's return - which I was given rather swiftly. However, unfortunately, I feel like this one had a serious case of try-too-hard-itis going on. While I loved a lot of the action and the witty repartee between Annie and the rest of the Rough Riders was awesome, the repeated twists and turns of the plot had me sighing.

My main problem with Rough Riders, Vol 2: Riders on the Storm were the parallels to America today. I read to escape, so finding myself plunging into a version of our current situation had me wrinkling my nose. And from a certain word to the characters that were obvious stand-ins for some of our politicians in office today, it was impossible to not see the similarities. However, the dialogue between the Rough Riders about democracy, anarchy, and frustration with the system was very plainly put and easy to relate to. And the end of this issue, well, let's just say it was believable as well. So while I didn't like that aspect of things, I still appreciated how the writer laid things out.  I do want to comment on a lot more than I currently am, simply because I lack the skill to get my point across.

The other thing is that while I can suspend quite a lot of belief in logic and abilities in search of a good story, Rough Riders Vol 2: Riders on the Storm, just had a few too many cases where I felt like it was pushing the envelope of realism a bit too far. There was a scene in particular involving one of the characters and four horses that had me rolling my eyes.

My favorite line comes from Roosevelt in the first issue (#8) of Riders on the Storm. It's just an awesome insult.

"For a civil war veteran, I found age and fear had given him the spine of a chocolate eclair."


As for the individual issues themselves, while I liked the The Big Burn (#8), Maiden of the Mist (#12) was the stand-out winner for me. Mostly because I love Annie, in case I haven't mentioned that three times already. Strange Days (#13) was my least favorite of the bunch. Given the way Strange Days ended things, I can't say that I would be interested in picking up any more volumes from the Rough Riders' series. 

Overall, just can't recommend this volume, sorry. It had it's high points, but not enough to make it worth spending money on.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher for review consideration
 

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review 2018-04-10 20:01
Review of Theodore Roosevelt by Nathan Miller
Theodore Roosevelt - Nathan Miller

Another fabulous biography of one of my favorites, Teddy Roosevelt.  This single volume biography does a nice job of covering all of the major political events of Roosevelt's life, while also being sure to cover his family life and relationships.  The author is obviously a fan of Roosevelt, and while he does admit when Roosevelt was flawed, he perhaps too often explains away his shortcomings.  However, it was an engaging read and recommended.

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review 2018-03-28 14:34
The culmination of TR's life
Colonel Roosevelt - Edmund Morris

The publication in 1979 of Edmund Morris’s The Rise fo Theodore Roosevelt  heralded the start of a monumental multi-volume study of our nation’s 26th president.  Though sidetracked for a number of years by his assignment as Ronald Reagan’s official biographer, Morris finally released his second volume, Theodore Rex, in 2001, which chronicled Roosevelt’s life during his years in the White House.  This book, which recount’s Roosevelt’s post-presidential years, provides a long-awaited completion to Morris’s project.  It bears all of the strengths and weaknesses of Morris’s approach to his project, now on display in a chronicle of an eventful decade in an already active life.

 

Morris begins with his subject (whose insistence on being referred to post-presidency as “Colonel Roosevelt” provides the inspiration for the book’s title) on safari in Africa, the first leg of a year-long voyage abroad.  Designed to give his handpicked successor, William Howard Taft, an opportunity to flourish outside of his long shadow, Roosevelt’s trip continued with a triumphal tour of Europe, one that the author recounts in meticulous detail.  Returning to universal acclaim, he also confronted a divisive political scene, with the dominant Republican Party torn by increasingly acrimonious infighting between its progressive and conservative wings. After an initial silence, Roosevelt joined the fray, campaigning for a number of progressive Republicans in the 1910 midterm elections.  Morris sees the defeat of these candidates as the first blow to his public standing, weakening him at a time when he faced growing calls from Progressives to challenge Taft for the 1912 Republican presidential nomination.

 

Increasingly disillusioned with his former colleague, Roosevelt entered the race in February 1912.  Morris’s description of his primary battle against Taft is one of the high points of this book, capturing all of the drama of a former president taking on his party’s leadership. Though Roosevelt was the clear choice of the voters, the limited use of presidential primaries at the time and Taft’s control of party patronage ensured Roosevelt’s defeat at the national convention that June.  Undaunted, Roosevelt bolted from the GOP and campaigned for the White House under the banner of the newly-founded Progressive Party.  Morris eschews any analysis of the campaign in favor of a narrative that describes his travels across America, which ended with a dramatic assassination attempt by “a weedy little man” who claimed to have been urged to do so by the ghost of William McKinley.  Despite the surge of sympathy the attempt generated, Roosevelt fell short in his effort, losing in November.

 

Financially weakened, Roosevelt turned to his pen and took to the road once more.  After a journey to Arizona with his sons Archie and Quentin, Roosevelt embarked on what he viewed as his last great adventure – an expedition into the jungles of the Amazon.  His journey proved difficult and physically demanding, with personality conflicts, a leg injury, and a recurrence of malaria taking its toll on the former president.  Roosevelt’s return coincided with the outbreak of war in Europe, leaving him chafing with inactivity as Woodrow Wilson first kept America out of war, then left the former president on the sidelines as he led the nation into it.  By its end, Roosevelt nursed both the pain of losing his youngest son and an increasing range of physical ailments, a cumulative effect of decades of strenuous activity that left him dead at the age of 60 in 1919.

 

Morris recounts Roosevelt’s life in vivid, occasionally even florid prose.  He is a master of presenting the rich drama of Roosevelt’s adventures, an easy enough task given the material he had to work with but well done nevertheless.  Yet like his earlier volumes, this descriptive account comes with little in the way of context or analysis.  There is little here to explain Roosevelt’s broader impact on progressivism, his contributions of his journeys to natural history, or the importance of his participation in the preparedness movement.  While this diminishes the utility of Morris’s work as a study of Roosevelt’s contribution to American history, it does not detract from the overall enjoyability of Morris’s entertaining, masterful account.  Combined with his earlier volumes, it is likely to serve as the standard by which Roosevelt biographies are judged for decades to come.

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review 2018-01-26 17:35
Podcast #88 is up!
Theodore Roosevelt's Ghost: The History and Memory of an American Icon - Michael Patrick Cullinane

My latest podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it, I interview Michael Patrick Cullinane about his history of the development of Theodore Roosevelt's posthumous image (which I reviewed here). Enjoy!

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review 2018-01-22 00:16
Defining Teddy for the ages
Theodore Roosevelt's Ghost: The History and Memory of an American Icon - Michael Patrick Cullinane

Presidents experience one of two fates after their death. While most recede into history and are remembered by most Americans as little more than images tacked up in rows on elementary school walls, a few become icons whose names and faces become part of the culture. Among the latter group is Theodore Roosevelt, a larger-than-life figure whose image remains almost as publicly recognizable today as it was during his heyday. Michael Patrick Cullinane's book is about the ways in which his image has endured, and the efforts of many people to ensure that it did.

 

The effort to define Roosevelt's posthumous image began with the moment of his death. As news of his passing spread throughout the nation, obituary writers and eulogists strove to define him in a variety of ways, all of which spoke to his multifaceted life and career. Memorial organizations soon emerged that sought to define his legacy with monuments and other programs. At the forefront of this was Roosevelt's family, though the seemingly unassailable control of Roosevelt's wife and children was soon challenged by political ascension of Theodore Roosevelt's distant cousin Franklin, who as president laid claim to Theodore's memory in ways that created a rift within the family. By the 1950s, memorializaton took on a different cast, as the generation that remembered Theodore Roosevelt was replaced by one who knew him only as a historical figure. Picking up on the themes outlined by their predecessors, this new generation continued to define and defend Roosevelt's legacy in ways that reflected efforts to establish his continuing relevance to a changing country and kept him at the forefront of the historical imagination.

 

Cullinane's book provides readers with a good look at how Roosevelt;s image has remained alive long after his body was laid to rest. His description of the memorialization efforts is a particular strength of the book, as he shows just how much thought and effort went into creating monuments designed to define Roosevelt's complex legacy for future generations. Yet for all of his labors, one person is surprisingly absent from Cullinane's analysis: Theodore Roosevelt himself. As good as his book is, it would have been much stronger had it begun with a chapter that examined his subject's own efforts to shape his public persona while he was alive. Given how media savvy Roosevelt was, his own efforts made him the single most influential definer of his posthumous image, with every other person involved working with the material he left them.

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