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The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 28, 2009

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Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best of the Month, August 2009: "The movement for the conversation of wild life and the larger movement for the conservation of all our natural resources are essentially democratic in spirit, purpose, and method." So wrote Theodore Roosevelt, known as the "naturalist President" for his efforts in protecting wildlife and wilderness, merging preservation and patriotism into a quintessential American ideal. The Wilderness Warrior, Douglas Brinkley's massive(ly readable) new biography, intrepidly explores the wilderness of influences (Audubon and Darwin), personal relationships (Muir and Pinchot), and frontier adventures (too many to mention) that shaped Roosevelt's proto-green views. Topping 800 pages (ironically, one wonders how many trees fell for the first printing), The Wilderness Warrior makes an excellent companion to Timothy Egan's The Big Burn and Ken Burns's The National Parks: America's Best Idea. --Jon Foro

From The New Yorker

Theodore Roosevelt spent the day of July 1, 1908, the tenth anniversary of the Battle of San Juan Hill, creating forty-five national forests. In this biographical study of T.R.’s campaign to save hundreds of millions of acres of wilderness, Brinkley writes that “the forestry movement would be forced down his opponents’ throats.” Roosevelt’s intense love for nature was, Brinkley makes clear, a conqueror’s love—triumphal Darwinism—and included a “blood lust” in hunting the wildlife he championed. The baby bear that, in popular myth, T.R. refused to shoot was actually an adult bear that he directed to be dispatched with a knife. Brinkley fully inhabits Roosevelt’s mind, a condition that has its disadvantages—the book, with blow-by-blow accounts of college hiking trips and squabbles between naturalists, does not entirely earn its nine hundred pages, making it harder to see the forests (and the story of how T.R. rescued them) for the trees.

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You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 940 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (July 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060565284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060565282
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #317,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Douglas Brinkley is currently a Professor of History at Rice University and a Fellow at the James Baker III Institute of Public Policy. He completed his bachelor's degree at Ohio State University and received his doctorate in U.S. Diplomatic History from Georgetown University in 1989. He then spent a year at the U.S. Naval Academy and Princeton University teaching history. While a professor at Hofstra University, Dr. Brinkley spearheaded the American Odyssey course, in which he took students on numerous cross-country treks where they visited historic sites and met seminal figures in politics and literature. Dr. Brinkley's 1994 book, The Majic Bus: An American Odyssey chronicled his first experience teaching this innovative on-the-road class which became the progenitor to C-SPAN's Yellow School Bus.

Five of Dr. Brinkley's books have been selected as New York Times "Notable Books of the Year": Dean Acheson: The Cold War Years(1992), Driven Patriot: The Life and Times of James Forrestal, with Townsend Hoopes (1992), The Unfinished Presidency: Jimmy Carter's Journey Beyond the White House (1998), Wheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company and a Century of Progress (2003), and The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast (2006).

Five of his most recent publications have become New York Times best-sellers: The Reagan Diaries, (2007), The Great Deluge (2006), The Boys of Pointe du Hoc: Ronald Reagan, D-Day and the U.S. Army 2nd Ranger Battalion (2005), Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War (2004) and Voices of Valor: D-Day: June 6, 1944 with Ronald J. Drez (2004). The Great Deluge (2006), was the recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy prize and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book award.

Before coming to Rice, Dr. Brinkley served as Professor of History and Director of the Roosevelt Center at Tulane University in New Orleans. From 1994 until 2005 he was Stephen E. Ambrose Professor of History and Director of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies at the University of New Orleans. During his tenure there he wrote two books with the late Professor Ambrose: Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy Since 1938 (1997) and The Mississippi and the Making of a Nation: From the Louisiana Purchase to Today (2002). On the literary front, Dr. Brinkley has edited Jack Kerouac's diaries, Hunter S. Thompson's letters and Theodore Dreiser's travelogue. His work on civil rights includes Rosa Parks (2000) and the forthcoming Portable Civil Rights Reader.

He won the Benjamin Franklin Award for The American Heritage History of the United States (1998) and the Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Naval History Prize for Driven Patriot (1993). He was awarded the Business Week Book of the Year Award for Wheels for the World and was also named 2004 Humanist of the Year by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. He has received honorary doctorates from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.

Dr. Brinkley is contributing editor for Vanity Fair, Los Angeles Times Book Review and American Heritage. A frequent contributor to the New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic Monthly, he is also a member of the Theodore Roosevelt Association, the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Century Club. In a recent profile, the Chicago Tribune deemed him "America's new past master."

Forthcoming publications include The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the crusade for America and a biography of Walter Cronkite.

He lives in Austin and Houston, Texas with his wife and three children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

146 of 156 people found the following review helpful By Enjolras TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm sure many of you are wondering whether we really need another biography of Theodore Roosevelt. After all, there has been a spate of other biographies on the man, from Edmund Morris' Theodore Rex to Kathleen Dalton's Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life. In short, the answer is YES, this is an essential TR biography. Even if you have read all of those other books (as I have), Douglas Brinkley's The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America is a vital addition to our understanding of TR as a man, a politician, and an environmental activist.

Brinkley's The Wilderness Warrior argues that Teddy Roosevelt was not simply a politician who cared about nature, but that his life as a naturalist permeated his entire outlook on life and use of political power. He goes further by arguing that TR was a committed preservationist who sought to protect nature forever, not just a "utilitarian" conservationist who sought to protect natural resources for later exploitation - despite his affinity for hunting.

The first part of the book documents TR's fascination with wildlife and the outdoors as a young child. Even by the age of 10, he had established a small "museum" of his favorite wildlife specimens (which he later donated to the Smithsonian and American Museum of Natural History).
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Matthew C. Roberts on November 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
I am a lover of Theodore Roosevelt and looked forward to this book when it was first announced. I have had it since it was initially released in hardcover and it has taken until now to finish it. Now for me to have that much trouble in completing a book on Roosevelt says something.

I had bought the book at a time when I was attempting to find a direction in my life (cue violins...) and I was interested in seeing how Roosevelt utilized his love of nature and science in his daily life. Now there are good chunks of the beginning of this book that show how nature and evolution influenced his way of thinking and I was happy with it. I enjoyed learning about the Boone and Crockett Club or the Bronx Zoo and his great influence on the formation of those organziations. By the time it has gotten up to when he was in positions of power, the Governorship of New York and his Presidency I feel the book loses it's direction, by almost placing too much emphasis on his nature stewardship over everything else. Others have hit on factual errors and honestly I don't pick up on those as much as others - on military facts yeah, but that is mostly because of that is my interest. Here it is that I have trouble picking up on how the naturalist in him helped or hindered the politician. To use a cliche, it may be because of having trouble seeing the forest thru the trees. It seems to me that there is just so much information it is difficult to see what is the wheat and what is just chaff (hey two cliches in two sentances!). The emphasis problem may also be shown in the fact that post-Presidency is not even covered in the over 800 pages of text.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Clifford K. Larsen on October 26, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition
This book reads like a master's thesis from a third-rate college - cut and paste with little regard for "facts" drawn from secondary sources. To give two examples:
page 62: "It was also exciting that Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln ... had both been on February 22, 1803". Wrong. They were both born on February 12, 1809.
page 135: "The outlaw Jesse James had launched his career as a notorious bank robber in 1876, just over 200 miles down the road in Northfield, Minnesota". Wrong. Jesse James was active as a bank robber in the period 1866-1876 (named as an "outlaw" in 1869) and went into temporary retirement AFTER the ill-fated Northfield robbery.
Frankly, it's hard to trust anything as "fact" in this overly long tome.
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39 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Petersburgh on April 22, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a great topic and it could have been a good book, but sadly Douglas Brinkley is simply not up to the challenge. I apologize for this long review, but there is so much wrong with this book that I feel I must do my best to warn others.

Wilderness Warrior is bloated with far too much detail, much of it not terribly relevant. To make matters worse, Brinkley frequently gets these details wrong. It would take a book of its own to present the hundreds of factual errors Brinkley makes. Other critical reviews here have done a good job of providing examples; they're all true, and I could add many more besides. So unfortunately these are not isolated errors, but rather the tip of a very large iceberg. Brinkley is a full professor of history, not an amateur, so he has no excuse for such an extensive pattern of error.

Errors aside, what does this book have to offer the reader? Despite its bulk, really not much. There is almost nothing particularly new here. Really, does anyone who would be motivated to read this book not already know that TR was a great presidential conservationist? Yes, like you I wanted to know more about that aspect of TR, and that's what made me want to read this book. But Brinkley simply collects "facts" like a magpie, without any selectivity. They're all in here, probably every little factoid his research assistants dug up, even if a significant percentage are inaccurate. But that's not the worst of it. That would be Brinkley's inability make meaning out of facts. Or, in plain English, Brinkley just doesn't really know what he's talking about whenever he strays from what other TR biographers have already said about the man.

The writing is consistently dull.
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