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Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life Paperback – February 10, 2004
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Roosevelt carefully crafted an image of himself as a self-made man. Fair enough, Dalton suggests, though he had a big head start in coming from one of New York's wealthiest and best-connected families. More than shaping his body to overcome weakness, his spirit to overcome fear, he had to overcome the prejudices of his time and class in order to be truly fit for leadership, and even as president he wrestled with a few contradictions (opposing, for instance, a woman's right to divorce, but endorsing public flogging of spousal abusers). He was not always successful, Dalton writes, but he emerged in the end as a great champion of civil rights and of the middle and working classes, very much ahead of his time.
There's a lot of interest in Theodore Roosevelt these days--and for good reason, given the recent international turmoil and financial tumble, which, some would argue, beg for TR's patented big-stick and trust-busting treatment. Dalton's Theodore Roosevelt offers a satisfying portrait of a constantly fascinating subject. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Ms. Dalton succeeds in conveying a view of TR that other historians have missed, or glossed over, or never saw. I can't tell if this is because of better scholarship, use of new or previously undiscovered sources, or simply because as a woman she was more sensitive to these issues than the other biographers that I have read. In any event it makes no difference since her insights do much to explain TR's life. In the past biographers focused on what happened, and so much happened to TR in such a short time that they often missed explaining the why part of TR's story. Ms. Dalton does this very well.
Frankly I resisted buying this book because I had already read so many others about TR that I wondered how Ms. Dalton could have enough new to say to justify the time of reading another long biography of TR. She justified my investment in time very well. So, much so that when a new books comes out by Kathleen Dalton I will buy that too.
The process begins in sorting the distortions surrounding his childhood. The product of study going back to her dissertation written over a quarter century ago on Roosevelt's pre-presidential years, this is one of the strongest sections of the book. Unlike Edmund Morris in his ongoing opus, Dalton fits the young TR squarely into the context of his times, showing how he reflected many of the prevailing Victorian attitudes about youth and manhood. Moreover. her Roosevelt is not the paragon of manliness that Morris' is. She goes further in detailing the poor health that plagued Roosevelt throughout his life (such as his attacks of asthma, which Dalton notes that, contrary to TR's own account, he never overcame completely) and from which he constantly sought to escape - hence the theme of her book, the "strenuous life" of her subtitle.
Dalton also details the early years of Roosevelt's political career with considerable insight. She describes how Roosevelt was very much his father's son, with the elder Roosevelt encouraging his namesake to take up the cause of social reform from an early age. This formed a key component of his political career from its start with his election as a New York state legislator. Yet Dalton shows that Roosevelt was much more than the typical patrician reformer of his time. The critical period in the development was his tenure as a New York City police commissioner.Read more ›
A Strenuous Life is a very impressive work, delightful in the way it spins its tale, exciting in its revelations of TR as a human being surrounded by other human beings at home as well as at work, and important in the parallels it leads us to draw between the real Roosevelt and the image current politicians conjure up of him to support their goals.
Kathleen Dalton weaves a fascinating tale of a complex individual--scientist, politician, leader, husband, father, idealist and pragmatist. In many ways the most intriguing "plot line" is Roosevelt's insistence on fairness and justice. As a young man he was introduced to the squalid conditions of New York City immigrants by photographer/journalist Jacob Riis. That revelation enflamed Roosevelt's intense sense of justice that led him to crusade for the underprivileged, laying the groundwork for his courageous stands against the abuses of big business.
Roosevelt's career almost seems the stuff of fiction with its improbable career story line--naturalist to politician to cowboy to soldier to president to explorer to third party challenger; and Dalton's writing has the lilt of the best fiction. But TR was real and Dalton's incredibly detailed and documented history provides an important reality check to the glibly portrayed Roosevelt of myth and legend. After reading A Strenuous Life one almost feels one knows Roosevelt well enough to say to some current politicians, "I knew Theodore Roosevelt...and you, sir, are no Theodore Roosevelt."
For example she mentioned that J. Martin Miller, a journalist, lied about TR's drinking. I have a book by J. Martin Miller called "The Triumphant life of Theodore Roosevelt," copyright 1905, which has some rare pictures of TR. I have never before read any other mention of J. Martin Miller.
To anyone who has a mood disorder, it comes as no surprise that TR had one too, although the so-called "normal" people do not understand and think it is an insult to say their beloved TR had one. I started studying him a few years ago, figuring he was a self-actualized person. I wanted to find out how a person with bipolar disorder becomes a self-actualized person. By a great deal of reading and thinking, I realized how he did it. He learned how to deal with stress early in his life. He used studying, writing, reading, exercise and even food to stabilize his moods. What I didn't realize until I read this book was that his wife Edith, aware of his moods, eased much of the stress on him. His bipolar disorder was mild because he worked to learn how to handle stress. Often young people use much less healthy ways to deal with depression and manic depression. They would learn much about how to deal with their moods by studying TR.
I was pleased that the author expounded on his growing social conscience. I think it is very important to show that it is possible to learn and grow your entire life, up to the very end.
I think this book will be cited often by historians.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Publisher's Weekly review says it all. This bio was poorly written - entire paragraphs consisting of disparate ideas just grouped together for no reason. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Luz Shepherd
Teddy Roosevelt had a collection of his essays published under the title "The Strenuous Life," which is about a 12 hour audio book. Read morePublished 16 months ago by jacob nuss
A very good book, but way too much insignificant detail, and way too long. Teddy Roosevelt is a one in a million character, just an incredible and exceptional man. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Glenn Archer
Somewhat on the light side and very uncritical of Roosevelt.Published 19 months ago by Brendan Tangney
This was the best work of Teddys transformation to a progressive. His policies were radical and uncompromising as a republican.Published 22 months ago by Jim Thomas
Kathleen Dalton's "Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life" is almost unique among the many Roosevelt biographies in staying focused on the person and his relationships. Read morePublished 24 months ago by HMS Warspite
TR was of course a complex and complicated character living in a rapidly evolving world. The principal merit of Kathleen Dalton's treatment of this great man is her willingness to... Read morePublished on June 8, 2013 by Andrew S.E. Erickson
In 1974, Kathleen Dalton was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given six months to live. A year later, her (misdiagnosed) illness was in complete remission, and Dalton was free to... Read morePublished on March 7, 2010 by Connie W. Smeds
Dalton has done an impressive job of showing the evolution of Theodore Roosevelt, as a politician and as a thinker and activist. Read morePublished on June 7, 2009 by Bobby Newman