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American Ideal: Theodore Roosevelt's Search for American Individualism
 
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American Ideal: Theodore Roosevelt's Search for American Individualism [Kindle Edition]

Paul M. Rego
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

This book examines the political thought of Theodore Roosevelt, specifically his ceaseless desire and effort to reconcile America's individualistic tradition with the more collectivistic ideals of his Progressive brethren. Many scholars and lay-people alike cast Roosevelt as either 'conservative' or 'liberal,' but his political thought defies so simple an interpretation; it was more nuanced and had a larger purpose than mere ideology. A thorough study of Roosevelt's writings reveals his conviction that the concepts of personal autonomy and civic concern were not mutually exclusive. In fact, Roosevelt argued that it was because the principles of self-reliance and personal freedom were important that it was sometimes necessary for the entire community to use its collective power_and, in some cases, the institutions of the government_to enable individuals to do what they could not do alone. Moreover, while Roosevelt advocated and was responsible for a great expansion in the regulatory powers of the national government, he understood, in contrast to many other Progressive reformers, that inspirational rhetoric and positive example could be as good as institutional reform and the force of law in compelling individuals to support one another in a spirit of civic attachment. In his public writings, Roosevelt sought to shape the American mind in ways that he thought proper. Even his writings on nature, hunting, ranching, and military life were part of his political thought in that they were intended to teach Americans about the importance of balancing those individualistic values that are healthy and vital to a society (discipline, personal responsibility, and a strong work ethic) with such positive collectivistic values as an appreciation for mutual support and a concern for the good of the community.

Editorial Reviews

Review

Theodore Roosevelt’s dynamic mind opens a window into the soul of American Progressivism, and, likewise, Paul Rego’s constructive book opens a window into Roosevelt’s own mind. Like other Americans, Roosevelt struggled to reconcile the nation’s robust individualism with national purpose and unity. In this thoughtful and insightful book, Rego shows that, perhaps more than any other American, Roosevelt thought through the specific policies necessary for adapting government action to the purposes of national progress and individual character. (David Robertson, professor of political science, University of Missouri-St. Louis)

Rego offers 'an intellectual biography' of Theodore Roosevelt....A useful book....Recommended. General readers through researchers and faculty. (CHOICE, October 2008)

[Henry] Pringle's well-written but venomous Theodore Roosevelt-published a decade after TR's death-set the tone for much of Roosevelt scholarship for a generation. Paul M. Rego does not make Pringle's mistake. He recognizes Roosevelt's complexity, and respects the power and breadth of his intellect. In short, he takes Theodore Roosevelt seriously, as both an accomplished statesman and as a serious political thinker. . . . He deftly demonstrates the power of Roosevelt's reconciliation of individualism with collective action, and traces the consistency of TR's thought from his early writings on history and nature to his mature statements during and after his presidency. . . . Anyone interested in TR, the presidency, American political thought, or American institutions will profit from this book. (Political Science Quarterly, Fall 2009)

Americans have long admired Theodore Roosevelt as a man of action. In this new intellectual biography, Paul M. Rego shows the power of TR’s thought. Rego convincingly demonstrates that TR developed the most impressive political diagnosis and constitutional theory written by any American statesman since “Publius” penned The Federalist. Well written, informative, and highly recommended. (Jeffrey K. Tulis, associate professor, University of Texas at Austin)

About the Author

Paul M. Rego is assistant professor of politics at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.

Product Details

  • File Size: 662 KB
  • Print Length: 250 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0739126083
  • Publisher: Lexington Books (April 28, 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002J4SW1Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,487,664 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent examination of TR's attempt at balance June 20, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Theodore Roosevelt is a leader people from across the political spectrum have claimed as their own. This can most easily be done, however, by emphasizing aspects of his actions and writings and ignoring those elements that are "inconvenient" or contradictory to one's own viewpoint. In American Ideal, we see an examination of TR's appreciation of both indvidualism and collectivism. He saw collectivism as often necessary (unfortunately necessary?), but never wanted to lose the individualist spirit that he regarded as essential to the American character. This book serves as an excellent counterpoint to those who would seek to place TR squarely on one end of the political spectrum or the other, and highlights the man who saw the necessity of both individualism and collectivism in the struggle to create the "square deal" for all Americans. This work is thoroughly researched and referenced, an excellent volume for the shelf of any student of Theodore Roosevelt's thoughts and works.
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