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Bully Boy: The Truth About Theodore Roosevelt's Legacy [Kindle Edition]

Jim Powell
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $10.99
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

What Hath TR Wrought?

“I don’t think that any harm comes from the concentration of power in one man’s hands.” —Theodore Roosevelt

The notion that Theodore Roosevelt was one of America’s greatest presidents is literally carved in stone—right up there on Mount Rushmore. But as historian Jim Powell shows in the refreshingly original Bully Boy, Roosevelt’s toothy grin, outsized personality, colossal energy, and fascinating life story have obscured what he actually did as president.

And what Roosevelt did severely damaged the United States.

Until now, no historian has thoroughly rebutted the adulation so widely accorded to TR. Powell digs beneath the surface to expose the harm Roosevelt did to the country in his own era. More important, he examines the lasting consequences of Roosevelt’s actions—the legacies of big government, expanded presidential power, and foreign interventionism that plague us today.

Bully Boy reveals:

• How Roosevelt, the celebrated “trust-buster,” actually promoted monopolies

• How this self-proclaimed champion of conservation caused untold environmental destruction

• How TR expanded presidential power and brought us big government

• How he heralded in the era of government regulation, handicapping employers, destroying jobs, and harming consumers

• How he established the dangerous precedent of pushing America into other people’s wars even when our own national interests aren’t at stake

• How this crusader for “pure food” launched loony campaigns against margarine, corn syrup, and Coca-Cola

• How Roosevelt inspired the campaign to enact a federal income tax that was supposedly a tax on the rich but became a people’s tax

Bully Boy is both a groundbreaking look at a pivotal time in America’s history and a powerful explanation of how so many of our modern troubles began.


From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Powell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, has made a name for himself writing provocative studies of presidents (FDR's Folly and Wilson's War). In this biased, unpersuasive account, Powell argues that virtually every plank of Teddy Roosevelt's Progressive agenda—including trust-busting, regulation of food and drugs, and the income tax (which Powell describes as "blood money") was a disaster. He sees Roosevelt as a dangerous tyrant who sought to expand the power of the executive office in order to promote his own interests. Powell's libertarian politics color almost every page of this study. To wit, his critique of Roosevelt's conservationism: "By establishing federal control over so much U.S. land, he defied the prevailing American view that land use decisions were best made by private individuals who had a stake in improving the value of their property." Powell also turns his guns on muckraking reporter Jacob Riis, remembered for his journalistic exposés of urban poverty. Powell says that instead of unmasking poverty, Riis should have asked "whether the poor were better off" in his day than they had been in the past, then approvingly quotes Thomas Hobbes's description of life as "poor, nasty, brutish, and short." This is irresponsible revisionism at its worst. (Aug. 8)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Powell takes Theodore Roosevelt to task, criticizing the historical plaudits attached to the Rough Rider's presidency. Flowing from a free-market perspective, Powell scores TR's trust busting, maintaining that monopolies, if they existed at all, were ineffective. TR's support for an income tax, touted as a soak-the-rich scheme, earns Powell's condemnation for its growth into a soak-everybody scheme. The analytical polemic continues with TR's creation of food and drug inspectorates, bureaucracies Powell flays as unnecessary since food processors had market incentives to keep food safe. Nor is TR-the-conservationist safe from Powell's pikes as the author argues Roosevelt damaged rather than preserved the environment. And as for TR's Big Stick, that was an original sin that opened the door to America's foreign interventions in the twentieth century. Readable, forceful, and opinionated, Powell's third presidential jeremiad (after Wilson's War, 2005, and FDR's Folly, 2003) should ignite debate between supporters and opponents of big government. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 557 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Forum (August 8, 2006)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000QCQ9WK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #454,808 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
108 of 119 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's all about the consequences... September 4, 2006
Format:Hardcover
In FDR's Folly, Jim Powell relied heavily on the work of empirical economists to draw conclusions about FDR and his policies. While contrary to other historians who have largely ignored economic studies of the great depression, Powell evaluated FDR and the New Deal based on the actual outcomes and consequences that they produced. In a similar vein, Powell documents the policies of TR in his new book, Bully Boy, and concludes that they largely did more harm than good. Specifically, Powell discusses the following in Bully Boy:

* How TR's regulations, tariff and "trust busting" policies harmed consumers

* How TR's foreign policy undermined the Monroe Doctrine and set precedents for future intervention in conflicts with no clear threat to U.S. security

* How TR's Meat Inspection Act and Pure Food and Drugs Act were used predominately as special interest legislation and set the foundation for the future FDA "drug lag," which has killed thousands

* How TR's conservation policies were counterproductive

* How TR's tax policies help to establish the federal income tax

While Powell's assessment of TR cannot be found in most history books, Bully Boy is well researched and documented with approximately 29 pages of notes and a 21 page bibliography. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to people that either love or loathe TR.

Many people will obviously disagree with Powell's conclusions or will support the consequences and precedents of TR's policies that appear to trouble Powell. I look forward to reading both the positive and negative reviews of this book. My hope is that those who disagree with Powell can provide more substance than the ad hominem attacks (e.g. "smut," "garbage," "reactionary claptrap") and other rhetorical fallacies that were the main locus of criticism for FDR's Folly and Wilson's War
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
After reading Jim Powell's book FDR's Folly, I wasn't sure I wanted to follow that one by reading Bully Boy, Powell's critique of Theodore Roosevelt's political life. So, I thought I'd give my brain a rest and just check it out of the library and do a mild overview. Unfortunately, you can't read a Powell book like that, so after reading just the introduction, I was hooked.

Powell's view point in Bully Boy is similar to that in FDR's Folly, but a little less detailed. He provides a strong chronological look at T. Roosevelt's entire political career, with his major focus on its consequences, especially during Roosevelt's presidency.

One area that evidently eluded me during my years in school was the fact that T. Roosevelt was a Republican (pretty much in name only), but his politics were radical, liberal and progressive. As a result, he believed in a huge, powerful central government, led by a president who has a lot of individual power at his disposal. Roosevelt felt America's involvement in war was the noblest of endeavors, and as an aggressive expansionist president, continuously involved the American military in senseless, imperialistic takeovers of foreign governments like the Hawaiian Islands, Panama, Cuba, the Philippines, and even eyed countries in South America, even though not a single one of these military actions involved the national security of the United States. And many, if not most of these conflicts were done without Constitutionally mandated congressional approval. As the president, Roosevelt felt he had the power and the right to commit American military forces anywhere he deemed them necessary, and without anyone's approval.

Powell asserts that Roosevelt's famous "trust-buster" reputation was a sham.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but Not as Good as FDR's Folly May 11, 2008
By Doug
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Although I consider myself very much pro-laissez faire capitalism, a few of the chapters in this book are not very convincing, which detracts from the overall utility of the book. However, it is still one of the few books that critiques the Theodore Roosevelt Administration (henceforth T.R.) from a pro-laissez-faire capitalist perspective, and is therefore still worth reading.

T.R. became president at a crucial turning point in U.S. history. At this time, there was a raging political debate between Classical Liberalism and Progressivism. Classical Liberalism was the idea of the Founding Fathers, which essentially argues that the proper role of the Federal government is largely to protect civil liberties to allow all citizens to pursue happiness. Progressivism encouraged the federal government to serve as an advocate for the weak and take a more active role in public affairs for the "greater good" of society. Unfortunately, with T.R., Progressivism won, which set numerous political precedents for government regulations in business, food, medicine, the environment and just about every other facet of public life. Since the T.R. was a *decisive* victory for Progressivism over Classical Liberalism, this makes T.R. arguably the worst president in U.S. history.

Although Powell seems to miss the broad philosophical turning point described above, he does identify a large collection of loathsome policies of T.R. The chapter on "trust busting", which describes the dissolution of Northern Securities and Standard Oil and the subsequent hampering of economic growth that resulted from anti-trust laws, is very good. Similarly, the chapter on the massive pricing regulations on the railroad industry and the crippling economic results is also very eye-opening.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book with tough words for the Southwest
As of this writing, California is going through one of its serve droughts and has resulted in extremely low levels of water at the Folsom and Shasta dams. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Efrem Sepulveda
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed the author's FDR book more but this is a solid piece
I thought this book was a great expose on debunking many of the myths surrounding Teddy. Although most people have fond memories of FDR, Teddy still has a grand image and it's... Read more
Published on June 28, 2012 by Robert Kirk
4.0 out of 5 stars A real eye opener
If you've always wondered what happened between the great laissez-faire post-war expansion of the late 19th century and the nanny-state socialism of the 20th, Bully Boy is for you. Read more
Published on January 22, 2011 by Jim Peschke
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh New Look at a Big Bully
For a book that I just happened to pick up, Jim Powell's book was a very excellent read. Theodore Roosevelt is often looked at as one of the most vibrant, enthralling presidents. Read more
Published on November 29, 2010 by A. C. Anderson
1.0 out of 5 stars Authors Lack Of Understanding Is Immense
As a historian and economist the times Roosevelt lived in were dramatically tilted toward the industrialists with an immense amount of power and do what you want attitude. Read more
Published on September 15, 2009 by EAJ
4.0 out of 5 stars Good look at TR
A great review of TR, his idea's, and their consequences. Systematically shows how TR was in fact not one of the greatest presidents of the US, but in fact a disaster. Read more
Published on July 5, 2009 by Deb Sturdivant
3.0 out of 5 stars Phillipine Civilian casualties in Sp.-Am. War
I failed to see any mention of the hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of Filipino wonen and children killed by Americans. Read more
Published on August 18, 2006 by Jennings Wagner
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Topic From this Discussion
The Publishers Weekly "reviews"
I, for one, do not appreciate it and may decide to take my business elsewhere if Amazon should persist in giving prominence to reviews that are biased against substantive books which challenge the conventional viewpoints.
Nov 24, 2006 by D. Saul Weiner |  See all 3 posts
Reviews on Bully Boy?
It will be released on the 8th of August. Wait for the reviews then.
Jun 24, 2006 by J. Pascual |  See all 2 posts
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