Friday, November 28, 2014

THE CEPHALOPOD COFFEEHOUSE: THE RISE OF THEODORE ROOSEVELT

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

It's time for The Cephalopod Coffeehouse, hosted by The Armchair Squid.

The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers.

To join the blog hop or to see the list of other participants, please visit The Armchair Squid.

My choice for this month is the first of three volumes about Teddy Roosevelt by Edmund MorrisThe Rise of Theodore Roosevelt.




When the book was published in 1980, it won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. The Modern Library thence named it one of the top one hundred non-fiction books.

The work deserves these accolades. It is exquisitely written and, no doubt, the definitive Rooseveltian biography. I shall recognize Teddy Roosevelt the very second I see him in Heaven:

His ample mustache does not entirely conceal a large, pouting underlip, on the rare occasion when that lip is still. Mostly, however, the mustache gyrates about Roosevelt's most celebrated feature––his dazzling teeth. Virtually every published description of the President, including those of provincial reporters who can catch only a quick glimpse of him through the window of a campaign train, celebrates his dental display. Cartoonists across the land have sketched them into American folk-consciousness, so much so that envelopes ornamented only with teeth and spectacles are routinely delivered to the White House. 

Although the book begins with a description of Roosevelt during his presidency, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt is appropriately titled. We learn about his poor health as a child; his worshipful love for his father; his Southern mother's loyalty to the Confederacy; his early love for hunting and taxidermy; his marriage to Alice Lee, whose death devastated him; his escape from grief as a cowboy in the wilds of the Dakotas; his writing career; and his early forays into political life. 

Theodore Roosevelt was a man who––most of the time––felt absolutely certain of his decisions, yet he struggled with himself. He did not believe that a man should remarry. No matter that Alice Lee Roosevelt was deceased. She was his wife forever. He argues with himself, castigates himself, before he gives in to his desire to marry his second wife, Edith. T. R. held himself to a higher moral standard than most men.

The book is meticulously researched and presents the necessary bibliography and a plethora of notes. 

I enjoyed learning the minute details of the President's early life. He was quite an unusual figure. During his presidency, he would wade naked into the stream in Rock Creek Park, followed by his cabinet, no matter how cold the weather. Now that I would like to see. 

Favorite Young Man read this book before I did. He feels quite enthusiastic about The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, which earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Approval. 

Thank you, Mr. Squid, for hosting this bloghop. I enjoy learning about the books other bloggers are reading, and I look forward to reading Morris's next two books about Roosevelt: Theodore Rex and Colonel Roosevelt.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug, who will not leave the house on Black Friday

59 comments:

  1. Hi Janie - I don't know much about American Presidents .. obviously I know the basics ... but I imagine this would be an interesting read .. he was a charismatic figure .. and a fighter in all things. He lived during a time of great change ... thanks Janie for highlighting ... enjoy a peaceful Black Friday - it's sent its tentacles over here!! I too shall be home .. cheers Hilary

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  2. When I was little, I thought that there were two Theodore Roosevelts because I knew there was a president but also another man who did so many other, amazing things. I was surprised to learn they were one in the same because of how many things he, as a single human being, managed to accomplish.

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    1. That's interesting. I didn't see it that way, but TR was many people.

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  3. I enjoyed reading your review. Ironically I am reminded of the movie, "Night at the Museum," where Robin Williams plays TR. Black Friday is a stay at home day for me too.

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    1. I enjoyed that movie. Robin Williams was an excellent TR.

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  4. Hello, dear Janie Junebug!

    Mrs. Shady and I just finished watching the Ken Burns film The Roosevelts. I learned a lot about Theodore and agree that he was a very interesting figure. Thanks to you I am keenly interested in learning more details of his life by reading these three volumes of Edmund Morris: The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. Mrs. Shady, who is a lifelong history buff, will certainly want to read them, too.

    Thank you very much for the book review, dear friend Janie. Happy Black Friday to you. I wish you, WDW and Franklin a safe and happy weekend!

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    1. I have the Ken Burns' show on my DVR. I don't know when I'll get to it.

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  5. We DVRed the recent Ken Burns series on the Roosevelts and have slowly been working our way through it. You might also enjoy Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation. She draws interesting comparisons between Teddy's foreign policy and Dubya's. Actually, I think you'd get a kick out of that book all 'round.

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    1. Thanks for the recommendation.

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    2. My pleasure. Sarah Vowell's books are great.

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  6. Hmmm, Janie...Not very often drawn to those types of books, but this one sounds interesting. I wonder about those "Killing" books now available. I've heard they are well written.

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    1. I'm not aware of those books. The day doesn't have enough hours for all the books I want to read.

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  7. Being a history buff, I shall have to add this to the list of books I must read.

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  8. Sounds like an interesting read. :)

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    1. I loved it, as did Favorite Young Man.

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  9. It is difficult to find well written books about famous people - this looks as though it has hit the mark. Thank you for recommending it.

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    1. It's a scholarly work, yet it's interesting.

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  10. TR is among my heroes; I believe I've read every book published in the 20th century, and a couple in the 21st.

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  11. I've read this book, and it's BULLY!

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  12. Having just watched The Roosevelts miniseries from PBS recently, I really can picture him well. I can imagine the book would be fascinating as he was quite the larger than life persona. :)

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    1. I have the series on the DVR, but I don't know when I'll get around to watching it. I still have the closing ceremony from the Winter Olympics on the DVR.

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  13. Then this will probably be what I read when I get around to exploring Teddy Roosevelt's fascinating life.

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  14. I read David McCullough'a book on Teddy and it was fascinating
    if you get a chance you should 1776 by him. It gave me insight on our country that I never knew.

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    1. I read McCullough's book about Harry Truman. It was great.

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  15. This sounds like a fantastic biography!

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  16. Sounds like a very interesting read...

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  17. I always associate the phrase 'speak softly and carry a big stick' with Teddy Roosevelt.

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  18. I did not know about his first wife. Great info. He's a fascinating character.

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    1. He never spoke her name again. He told their daughter nothing about her mother. He burned all their letters and erased her from his diary. The pain was that horrible for him.

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  19. I would like to learn more about him. We didn't study that much of American history when I went to school, such a long time ago in Sweden. Thanks for the review and I will not this blog hop on my calendar so I can participate in the future.

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    1. I enjoy this blog hop. It's pretty low key.

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  20. Those three volumes sound like something I would love to read.

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    1. I probably won't get to the next one until sometime after Christmas.

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  21. Sounds like a great read. He was always my favorite president. And you know, the wife and I have talked about this before, and we'd never want to get remarried if we lost one another early. We don't believe in it. We planned to get married once and only once. If other people remarry, that's cool. We've got nothing against that. But for us personally... not gonna happen.

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    1. X and I said we would never remarry, but that was in the case of death. We certainly weren't going to get divorced. One of us hasn't remarried and can't without losing maintenance (alimony). But good for you. Stay married forever. Divorce is like a death.

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  22. He would wade naked (butt naked?) into the stream in Rock Creek Park, followed by his cabinet... THAT I didn't know. How modern of him.

    I love well-writen books, Janie, and that quote of yours sure made me want to read more.

    Blue

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    1. Yes, butt naked, along with his Cabinet. And it would have been damn cold in Rock Creek Park.

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  23. It sounds like this book has a lot of interesting tidbits about President Roosevelt. But why in the world would he go butt naked into a freezing stream? That's just plain crazy!

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    1. It's way beyond tidbits. It's the whole schlemiel. As for the freezing stream, why did he go to the Dakotas to be a cowboy? Why did he join the Army during the Spanish American War? Probably for the same reason he climbed mountains: They were there. He was the kind of person who did everything to an extreme. He didn't just fall in love with his first wife. He worshiped and adored her. Her death was unbearable to him. He was that kind of guy. Some people think he had bipolar disorder. We'll never know.

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  24. This is definitely a book I would read, and if I had my druthers, I'll always lean toward biographies. I've been watching the Roosevelt documentary, too, and it is really good. You need to check it out, girl. Sorry to arrive late - we've been hopping this weekend!

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    1. I'll get to the Roosevelts on PBS eventually. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

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  25. I find it interesting that back then they didn't think people should remarry, even if their wives died. I'm sure there are still some older-generation people who believe that, but younger people seem to have no problem with it!

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    1. I don't think it was a problem for most people. TR held himself to an unusually high moral standard.

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  26. Janie, this was a fantastic review of one of the best books ever! I love Agatha Christie-type mysteries and biographies. Have you read "Dearest Friend"? It's an amazing compilation of letters between Abigail and John Adams that I think you would enjoy.

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  27. Happy Editing, JJ! I've been playing catchup and reading your recent posts. I really enjoyed your book review on Teddy Roosevelt. I have always admired his conservation work. A number of years I read "Brighty of the Grand Canyon" to my third graders, and Roosevelt was a character in the novel.

    The Cephalopod Coffeehouse sounds like such fun, but I can't take on more right now. There's so much I still want to do, and I feel time speeding up. Your sister wrote a beautiful tribute to Snowball. Enjoy the rest of your week!

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    1. Brighty of The Grand Canyon is probably one of the few Marguerite Henry books I never read. For a man who loved hunting, killing, and taxidermy, Roosevelt did a great deal to preserve our land.

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  28. I always feel bad about not reading enough. I'm writing enough but not reading enough books. LOL

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    1. It's difficult to do everything we want to do. I don't r write enough. Editing takes precedence over my writing. I love to read, but the writing and the editing take precedence over reading. But reading good books makes me a better writer. I am a puppy dog chasing her tail. I will never catch it.

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