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Commissioner Roosevelt: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt and the New York City Police, 1895-1897 [Paperback]

H. Paul Jeffers
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 8, 1996 047114570X 978-0471145707 1
A lively, entertaining and well-researched portrait of a zealous reformer during the historic crusade that successfully launched his career in government.-Booklist COMMISSIONER ROOSEVELT: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt and the New York City Police, 1895 - 1897 When Theodore Roosevelt took office as New York's police commissioner in 1895, the Metropolitan Police force was barely more than a confederation of thugs and petty criminals whose chief activity was to extort protection money from local merchants. The thirty-seven-year-old Roosevelt rode roughshod over the corrupt bosses and power brokers and transformed the police into one of the first modern law enforcement agencies in the world. Combining the best elements of biography and social history, Commissioner Roosevelt reveals a fascinating episode from the life of one of America's most colorful cities, and one of her most charismatic leaders.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1884 Roosevelt shepherded seven bills through the New York Assembly designed to reform the NYC police department; his subsequent performance on the U.S. Civil Service Commission added to his reputation for probity. Thus, when the Republicans won City Hall in 1895, TR was named to the board of police commissioners, where he was elected president. With the help of reformers and rising young journalists Jacob Riis and Lincoln Steffens, he converted a graft-ridden force into a constabulary run on the principles of promotion through merit and enforcement of all laws, no matter how unpopular. His innovations included hiring the first woman on the force and creating the first police fingerprint department. TR served for just two years, but even his enemies conceded that his performance had been spectacular. Jeffers (Bloody Business) captures the public-spirited TR in all his pugnaciousness. For a fictionalized account, see Caleb Carr's bestselling The Alienist. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Before LBJ, JFK, and FDR, there was TR, our first modern president. In these two volumes we get a glimpse of TR before and after his presidency. Both books present a sympathetic portrait of an energetic man, first as reformer and then as naturalist/explorer. Roosevelt devoted only a chapter in his autobiography to his two years as police commissioner, but New Yorker Jeffers (Bloody Business, Funk & Wagnalls, 1992) expands it into a monograph that captures TR's hallmark blend of pragmaticism and idealism during his brief tenure as president of the New York Police Commission and ex officio member of the Board of Health. Roosevelt consistently alternated between a political life and an outdoor life. After two years in the New York legislature, he left for the Dakotas; after the presidency, it was Africa; after his unsuccessful bid for president on the Progressive ticket, he decided on an expedition to South America-his "last chance to be a boy." His version of the trip was told at the time in a series of articles for The Outlook and Scribner's Magazine and then as a book, Through the Brazilian Wilderness. Ornig's extensive research results in as complete an account as we are likely to get of Roosevelt's harrowing trip, a trip that broke his health and hastened his death at age 60. For entertainment, Jeffers's work is better, but both volumes contribute to understanding the personality, character, and contributions of TR before and after his presidency.
Nicholas C. Burckel, Washington Univ. Libs., St. Louis
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 293 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (March 8, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047114570X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471145707
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,043,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have always wanted to learn more about Teddy Roosevelt's two-year stint with the New York Police Department, and was thus thrilled to find Mr. Jeffer's book on While it does do a fairly good job of describing the events as they occurred during Roosevelt's tenure at the NYPD, I found the book on the whole to deliver a very surface treatment of the subject. It is, as one of the other reviewers noted, quite superficial, relying almost exlcusively on anecdotes which seem to have been gleaned from newspapers of the period. What the book is missing is any kind of meaningful insight into TR himself. I have always understood that TR was a prolific letter-writer. I think that this book would have benefitted greatly from the author spending more time relating TR's thoughts, which he must have undoubtedly conveyed many times in correspondence to friends and associates.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Police Era History April 5, 2000
The book covered the period of history just at the turn of the 20th Century. I found it to be very informative and made me feel like I was right there strolling the streets with Ted Roosevelt. Although the book is strong in its era coverage more attention should have been given to the various laws and acts that were in place at the time preventing "police" to perform their respective functions.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dee-lightful history! May 15, 1997
By A Customer
"Commissioner Roosevelt" is a dee-lightful narration of the two years during which Theodore Roosevelt served as President of the Board of Police Commissioners of New York. The author skillfully relates the struggles and events of Roosevelt's service with the development of the public man he was becoming. He captures the spirit of the man which would later be manifested on a grander scale. In viewing historical figures we often tend to focus on their most prominent roles, in this case the Rough Rider and President, and neglect other significant portions of their lives which reveal their character. Commissioner Roosevelt helps fill that gap
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Glory Days December 27, 2000
COMMISSIONER ROOSEVELT exhibits Theodore Roosevelt's true modus opporandae. There were indeed many obstacles in Roosevelt's path to making a better city police force, however, the American public was, in my opinion, persuaded by eloquent speaking and the media more so then they are today. In all likelihood there is no way Roosevelt could achieve such drastic reform results over a relatively short period of time in the modern world. However, Jeffers' book is not about that issue, this book is about displaying Roosevelt's true core beliefs and the willpower that was within a person who was weak and sickly as a child. Personally I would have liked to have seen more critical material in this book, however, it is a beautiful narrative of how one man was able to make a difference (with the help of the fledgling media). This book should be mandatory reading for all people in the law enforcement field today, it shows all the principals that American's hold dear condensed into one mortal being, Roosevelt.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Potentially Good History That Lacks Focus February 28, 2011
Few folks are aware that before Teddy R. was a Rough Rider, governor, vice-president and president, he was a member of the police commissioner board of New York City. Joining the board as a force of reform, Teddy forced through a number of changes to the NYC police policies and operations and helped clean up the department by establishing fair methods of promotion, supervision and leadership. Ultimately his good works were undermined by politics and he left the board to become Assistant Secretary of the Navy through his own instigation rather than continue in the world of endless infighting and backbiting. It is an interesting story but the author's style goes down to such day to day detail that it become difficult for the reader to maintain focus. Recommended only for those with a real interest in TR that would keep them motivated.
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