When Colonel Theodore Roosevelt led his Rough Riders up the San Juan Ridge in 1898, it was one of the most daring exploits of the Spanish-American War. Colleagues would later report that, seemingly oblivious to the threat of death, Roosevelt "was just reveling in victory and gore," collecting spent cartridges as souvenirs for his four sons while shells exploded around him. His martial vigor served as a model to those sons, one that they took to heart, but their own experiences of war were far removed from TR's swashbuckling adventure.
At the end of World War I, the youngest Roosevelt son--Quentin--was dead, shot down in the skies over France. Theodore Jr. (Ted) and Archie both sustained serious injuries, and Archie suffered from bouts of serious depression many times in the years afterwards. Yet they both served, along with their brother, Kermit, in World War II as well. At 57, Ted was the oldest American participant in the Normandy invasion; Archie became the only U.S. soldier ever to be classified as 100% disabled twice in his career.
The Lion's Pride tells all their stories with thoroughness and graceful simplicity. Although military historians will surely appreciate its combat narratives, it is at heart a family saga, a tale with profound emotional resonance for parents and children alike.
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From Publishers Weekly
In his examination of TR's last years, Renehan creates a story that is at once a family tragedy and the denouement of a way of thinking. For 39-year-old Teddy Roosevelt, the 1898 Spanish-American War was the fulfillment of a romantic martial ideal and compensation for a history of frail health and his father's use of a substitute to avoid conscription during the Civil War. His much-publicized exploits with the Rough Riders shaped his career and his sense of self to such an extent that he welcomed WWI as an opportunity for his sons and for the nation. But although TR's sons?Ted Jr., Kermit, Archie, Quentin?were eager to find the fastest way to the front, the nation and President Wilson were not. Renehan parallels TR's strident calls for military "preparedness" with his sons' efforts to train themselves for a war America would eventually join in 1917. Even in Europe?far from their father's influence?the boys goaded each other, going so far as calling Quentin a slacker because pneumonia prevented him from getting to the front fast enough. In the end, the Roosevelts suffered for their daring: TR would write a friend, "[My sons] have done pretty well, haven't they? Quentin killed... Archie crippled... Ted gassed...." But despite his bravado, TR was stricken and would outlive his youngest son by only a few months. Through previously unpublished family papers, judiciously chosen facts and a moving narrative that skillfully parallels the personal and political, Renehan reveals a great deal about American society and politics, and about the culture of war. But most of all, he tells a sad story of the end of an era and the end of a man. 36 halftones not seen by PW. BOMC, History Book Club alternate. Author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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