Theodore Roosevelt Essay - Critical Essays


Nathan Miller shows America’s twenty-sixth president to be macho, aggressive, compulsive, progressive — but also intellectual, peace-loving, cautious, and moderate. The truth is that Theodore Roosevelt was an extremely complicated man. As president he promoted conservation measures far beyond anything previously contemplated in Washington; then, his term of office over, he went on a game-hunting expedition and, together with his son, slaughtered more than five hundred animals. He relentlessly urged war with Spain, but he received the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the end of the Russo-Japanese War a few years later. He promoted physical fitness and the strenuous life, even boasting of himself as a “bull moose,” but he read a book a day and sought the advice and company of intellectuals. Political friends and enemies alike feared him as wild and irresponsible, but Henry Adams, a descendent of two American presidents who watched a succession of later presidents from his home across the street from the White house, judged him “exceedingly conservative.”

The author shows Roosevelt developing from a scrawny, asthmatic boy to a strong and assertive president. After greatly extending the chief executive’s powers during seven and a half years and refusing to run in 1908, he reemerged as a third-party candidate in 1912. Shot in the chest while campaigning, he continued until he had finished his speech. In his fifties Roosevelt took part in an expedition to an uncharted part of the Brazilian jungle. Not always right but always vigorous, he never gave less than his full energy to any of his endeavors. This book provides a comprehensive view of an extraordinary man.

Sources for Further Study

The Atlantic. CCLXXI, January, 1993, p. 125.

Booklist. LXXXIX, September 15, 1992, p. 99.

Chicago Tribune. December 13, 1992, XIV, p. 6.

Detroit News. December 23, 1992, p. A11.

Forbes. CLI, February 1, 1993, p. 26.

Kirkus Reviews. LX, September 15, 1992, p. 1170.

Library Journal. CXVII, October 15, 1992, p. 76.

New York. XXV, September 14, 1992, p. 111.

The New York Times Book Review. XCVIII, February 28, 1993, p. 14.

Publishers Weekly. CCXXXIX, September 21, 1992, p. 81.