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The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America Paperback – May 4, 2010

4.0 out of 5 stars 148 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 960 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (May 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060565314
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060565312
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Arnold VINE 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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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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Format: Hardcover
I have been truly inspired by this book - inspired by the grandeur of this country, inspired by the potential of good governance, inspired to read more on the topic of early conservationists and inspired to visit and revisit our national parks, monuments, wildlife refuges and forests. Unfortunately, this brilliant book is marred by numerous typos and other errors. Some are errors of fact, e.g.: erroneous birth dates for Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin; there are misspellings, sentences missing words and just plain sloppiness (e.g.: listing the state of Montana twice in one sentence which lists several states). I hope this book will be edited before it goes to its next printing. Other than that, I highly recommend this book.
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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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