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Theodore Roosevelt: A Biography Paperback – January 13, 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (January 13, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156028026
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156028028
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,053,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Biographer Henry F. Pringle won 1932's Pulitzer Prize for his book, Theodore Roosevelt: A Biography. A professor of journalism at Columbia University, he wrote dozens of articles for magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, as well as several other biographies, including The Life and Times of William Howard Taft and Alfred E. Smith: A Critical Study. Most Famous Works Theodore Roosevelt: A Biography (1931) The Life and Times of William Howard Taft (1939)

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By lordhoot on November 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
I found Henry F. Pringle's biography on Theodore Roosevelt to be bit overrated. Probably because it was published back in 1931 that make the material so dated. Passage of time and reassessment of Theodore Roosevelt make this book somewhat of an oddity. Despite of being published just 12 years after Roosevelt's death, it was interesting to read that this was basically a pretty negative outlook on a great American. The style of his writing, the way he jumped forward and backward simply confused the subject matter sometimes. It doesn't helped that the author never really get into the mind, personality and motives of his subject. Many of the issues surrounding Roosevelt's life are simply not in-depth enough to be interesting or informative.

I supposed for readers back in the 1930s, this book had a lot to offered. But nowadays, with works by Edmund Morris, David McCullough, Nathan Miller and Kathleen Dalton, there is really very little purpose in reading this book. It doesn't offered any thing new nor offered any great insights.

I read it because it was so highly acclaimed back then. It won the Pulitzer Prize and won high reviews back then. But reading it now after going through many of the modern materials on Roosevelt, make Pringle's work looked weak and stale.

Not really recommended for anyone unless your curiousity get aroused by ancient work.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Avid One on October 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
I agree with many of the other reviews. I picked this up because Pringle's biography was a Pulitzer Prize winner, written close in time to the subject matter. I was disappointed in the writing style and the lack of penetrating analysis. It is like a stone skipping over the lake. Subsequent authors have done much better and that might be expected as history and the passage of time provide their separate illuminations. Still, Pringle had the benefit of first person, first generation sourcing and I expected more as a result. Pringle's three paragraph forward to the book's re-release in 1955 laid a clear foundation. He said he would have failed completely unless he proved that T.R. was never dull. I have to say Pringle tantalizingly cracks that door but doesn't expand on it. I found his sidebar comments on various contemporaries of Roosevelt, especially as some have been lost to history, more interesting. Intriguing side streets that I intend to pursue. In fact, that only would be my recommendation for this book.

However, Pringle never fleshes out Roosevelt. Pringle seems to catch his outline, his reactions to events, circumstances or people, but fails to deliver T.R. himself. This might suffice as a brief introduction to Roosevelt but much more interesting and illuminating biographies are now available.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John A. Van Devender on November 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
I agree in general with some of the other reviews. I do not believe this biography to be the best I have read on TR but it does fill a niche.

Pringle's approach cannot be divorced from the era in which he wrote. In his day Historians supposed they were to be clinical and detached from their subject. There is no warmth in the writing and the great and small episodes in TR's life are dealt with in about equal measure. It is hard to justify the detail omitted in TR's pathway to San Juan hill in comparison to the nitty gritty stuff that is included about his political tiffs with some of the bosses.

So, in general I would say that I prefer Edmund Morris' work to Pringles. Having said that though, this book acquaints the reader with the politics of the US at the turn of the century in an eye opening manner. Modern issues such as bail outs of credit institutions are mirrored in the early 1900's and interestingly, with the same arguments. Much of what passes for "progressive" today is found there. TR in Pringle's depiction is passionate but prone to much less of a consistent principled stance than presented by others. The truth is probably somewhere in between but Pringle's analysis is a needed balance to other, more sympathetic depictions.

So... good read... a bit of a struggle in spots... but worth the investment.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Craig Wood on November 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
Pringle's biography of Theodore Roosevelt provides a fascinating chronicle of TR's many achievements. The author describes the accomplishments and contradictions of his subject without undue criticism or commendation. From his early years at Harvard and the NY state legislature, through the final days of his life, Roosevelt was passionate, opinionated and, above all, focused on achieving his goals. Pringle describes these events in great detail, from the well known (the Spanish-American War, the Panama Canal, anti-trust efforts) to the more obscure (simplified spelling, the Venezuelan debt dispute, the ill-fated Progressive party). After reading this book, you'll have a solid understanding not only of Roosevelt the man, but also of the world events that shaped history for the next hundred-plus years.
Pringle's book is enjoyable to read, in part because it includes numerous excerpts from TR's letters and speeches. The intelligence and wit of Roosevelt's writing feel like a breath of fresh air in today's world of banal CNN sound bites. You might be disappointed, however, by Pringle's lack of explanation for Roosevelt's controversial side. Namely, TR's racism and imperialistic hankerings may seem at odds to how a US president should behave, even in turn-of-the-century America. To boot, Pringle devotes only passing notice to the irony of TR's 1906 Nobel Peace Prize, a controversial accolade considering Roosevelt's jingoistic tendencies. Although some may consider Pringle's "Theodore Roosevelt" to be a definitive reference book, I'd argue that this biography is an excellent introduction, which should be supplemented with other works that pursue TR's controversial side in greater detail.
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