A Bully Father

Theodore Roosevelt, one of America’s most memorable presidents, was also one of the most intellectual, often reading a book a day as well as writing major works of history, natural science, political commentary, and a well-respected autobiography. This most popular of presidents had another side which endeared him to the American public: his vast physical energies, personified in the Badland’s cowboy, the Rough Rider in Cuba, the big game hunter and explorer in Africa and South America—the child who never entirely grew up. One of his peers commented that Roosevelt was always about six years old.

The letters in A BULLY FATHER were originally published shortly after Roosevelt’s death in 1919. In this edition, Joan Paterson Kerr has provided a long biographical sketch of the Roosevelts and their life at Sagamore Hill and the White House from the Spanish-American War to shortly after the conclusion of the Roosevelt presidency. From the original edition are also included Roosevelt’s own sketches, which illustrate many of the letters to his young children. Paterson Kerr has provided editorial notes that are helpful in identifying material in the letters. Unlike the 1919 edition, this edition includes many excellent photographs of the president and his family.

The Roosevelt genius is readily apparent in the letters. Always a renaissance man, Roosevelt was also a renaissance father. He had the canny ability to relate to each child’s interests, appropriate to his or her age. The letters are filled with family affairs, animal stories, literary discussions, travel reports, and political gossip. Revealing of Roosevelt himself as well as many customs and mores of the early twentieth century, A BULLY FATHER will appeal to everyone: adults and children, the general reader as well as the scholar.