Nothing new in Teddy Roosevelt biography | AspenTimes.com

Nothing new in Teddy Roosevelt biography

Maybe it’s because we’re in an election year that I’ve had a renewed interest in those who have occupied the Oval Office.

For a while I took a crack at Scott McClellan’s book, “What Happened,” on his relationship with George W. Bush and their time in the White House. But after 100 or so pages, I simply needed something new, because, frankly, I’m pretty burnt out on Bush and the way he operated (The Nov. 4 election results demonstrated I was not alone).

And having seen McClellan give countless interviews on the book ” a book the GOP faithful claimed was a hit piece ” I decided I’d heard enough and could pursue something else. That might be a shallow excuse but, as Donald Rumsfeld famously said, it is what it is.

So I switched gears and arrived at Theodore Roosevelt, an American icon I could stand to learn more about. “The Lion in the White House: A Life of Theodore Roosevelt,” is a decent boilerplate biography about the 26th president of the United States, and arguably the nation’s most colorful chief executive.

Aida D. Donald’s book cuts the mustard because of her subject. The life of Roosevelt, perhaps the most intellectual and sophisticated president in U.S. history ” not to mention the most prolific writer the Oval Office ever saw ” never gets boring, no matter whom writes about it.

Donald does a nifty job of wrapping up Roosevelt’s life, and she’s not afraid to squeeze in her disdain, for better or worse, about the evolution of the GOP; she freely mentions Abraham Lincoln as one of T.R.’s idols and inspirations.

It’s a brisk read, and Donald’s take on Roosevelt’s spectacular rise to power at times appears laced with blind adoration. While her scholarship about Roosevelt is indisputable, serious Roosevelt fans are probably better pursuing a more in-depth take on TR.

Stuffing T.R.’s life into 265 pages is a noble attempt and a great introduction to an American icon, but “Lion in the White House” falls short if you’re yearning for new details about his life.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com


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