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Rough Riders Paperback – December 25, 2011
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In reading this book you fill out or develop your sense of who TR thought he was--something you lack when you read biographies. You also start to see where TR's self-view diverges from his biographers one hundred years later.
If you are to understand Roosevelt, you need to read Roosevelt. Especially if you are thinking about dismissing him as a progressive responsible for all the bad things in the Republican Party today, or diminishing your view of him just because he was a Republican. Moreover, it does the great president a huge disservice to think of him as a slogan (walk softly but carry a big...) he was known for or a few bits of legislation. TR was a complex enough man to run for a third term as a Bull Moose and contemplate a third term after Wilson's mess. The Rough Riders help you understand just what a complex political and adventurist animal TR was.
The formulation of the Calvary Regiment, their mustering, training, and transport to Cuba covers the majority of the first half of the book. Getting to the theater of war was really half the battle. Then the battle, and the sweat dripping from the men during scorching days and humid nights as well as the battle for the San Juan Hill are all covered in the second half. Sweat, mosquito's, and mud. You sense what it was like to be in the theater of operations because TR writes so well about it, as well as the heroics of his men who fought and died like heroes.
As war memoirs go, this is relatively short, but appropriate for the action seen. Eisenhower and Kennedy had more time in the combat theater and necessarily had more to write. TR writes of mustering, flanking and 1900 era jungle if not guerilla tactics.
No one lived quite like TR. Worthwhile and important read for understanding this President.