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Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt Paperback – May 12, 1982
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Detroit News This is a marvelous chronicle of manners and morals, love and duty, and as captivating as anything you will find between book covers in a long while.
John Leonard The New York Times We have no better social historian.
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Top Customer Reviews
Following this, I've read "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt", by Edmund Morris. Yes, he is the same gentleman who recently penned "Dutch: A memoir of Ronald Reagan". While "Rise" was given a Pulitzer, like McCullough's bio of Truman, I must say that it didn't "set" as well with me as this one. While both stop roughly mid-life for Teddy (early life to pre-Presidency), I judge "Mornings" to be the superior work. The level of detail in "Mornings", and the overall readability of the prose struck me as superior.
As an aside, I have just currently read "TR: The Last Romantic" and while this is an engaging book and not as hero-worshipping as either Morris or McCullough, the book's reliance on almost all TR quotes, or a slight few that are related to TR, becomes jarring.
All told, if you have a young son or daughter who has great potential and you'd like to set before them a shining example of a fine American; physically, mentally, and spiritually, then there is not a finer book I could recommend than McCullough's "Mornings on Horseback".
Mornings on Horseback challenges the notion that yesterday was more idyllic than today. Though Roosevelt had a close family, they did not remain unscathed by the Civil War, nor by illnesses that have since fled the earth. Throughout it all, it was their sense of family, as well as their great self-motivation to improve the lot of the world, that pushed them beyond misfortune.
McCullough is a patient historian. He does not abide by myths, or falsehoods. His prying beneath the historical record is done with sound tools of investigation. Throughout it all, his voice is so entrancing, and his capture of detail so intricate, that we come to feel that we truly understand his subjects. When they are tossed about by fate, we regard their misfortunes with empathy. McCullough knows how to make history as readable as fiction.
But what's more fascinating is that it is also the story of the Roosevelt family and its closest friends. The characteristics of these people and how they shaped a lot of Roosevelt's personality and outlook are drawn out exquisitely by McCullough. I had never known how much his parents had influenced him, and how hard he took their sudden deaths, as well as the untimely death of his young wife. Surrounded by wealth and advantage, Theodore Roosevelt could not seem escape the ever-present aura of death. His own delicate health--asthma, digestive disorders, etc.--was also a reminder of the sudden end that could come to us all.
What this did, remarkably as McCullough points out, was fill young Teddy Roosevelt with a hunger for life, nature, and knowledge--and this hunger would shape his adulthood. While the book SEEMS to end abruptly, in reality McCullough had given us what his title had promised, a story of the "Unique Child" who became one of America's greatest presidents. "Mornings on Horseback" is a fabulous biography from one of our best writers. I highly recommend it.
Rocco Dormarunno, author of The Five Points