Monday, November 4, 2013

Lion in the White House

Subtitled “A Life of Theodore Roosevelt” by Aida D. McDonald (Basic Books, 2007, $16.99)

In school, we learn of (and teach) American history up until about the end of the Civil War.  Reconstruction may be about as far as we get.

Yet the tumultuous times of the United States are not framed by major “if it bleeds, it leads” conflicts.  Rather, they are part and parcel of the experiment we call democracy in the United States. 

To most of us, the turn of the twentieth century is an after-thought in our understanding of history.  Yet, the growth of the progressive movement in the face of a laisseze-faire then-Democratic party establishment speaks to one of the great David vs. Goliath periods in our history.

Standing tall was a young Theodore Roosevelt, thrust into the presidency at age 42.

Donald offers a rather fawning short biography of this monumental figure, one that, I wish, gave a more balanced view of his life and administration.  Yet, it provides a basic academic view of the cavalcade of events leading to worker rights, necessary strictures on banking and stock trade, protection of the environment and our evolution as a world power.  Throughout the narrative, I cannot escape the feeling that history is repeating itself today.

I need to read more – and perhaps a more objective look – at TR’s tenure in the spotlight, but this volume introduces me to those monumental and incremental actions of the early twentieth century that ushered the United States into it’s position as a world power.  It also reinforces the value of having a leader who embraces a vision and sticks to his guns as that vision sees its way to fruition. 

See your local, independent bookseller.

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