Theodore Roosevelt's History of the United States – Book Review

Daniel Ruddy says in the book’s introduction that he decided to compile this book after realizing that if he could talk with anyone from American history, living or dead, that person would be Roosevelt. His approach was to "create Roosevelt’s part of the conversation, " based exclusively on the soldier-politician-adventurer’s own words. Those words come from T.R.’s own books, letters, speeches, newspaper articles about him, and the accounts of those who recorded what they heard Roosevelt say. Ruddy sorted those writings by subject and stitched those original words together to create individual paragraphs.

By the author’s admission, though he says he went to great pains to avoid any distortion, this approach means the book is "the best possible representation of Roosevelt’s beliefs, as I saw those beliefs, " (Ruddy’s emphasis) and other writers would have emphasized things he downplayed and vice versa.

Does that approach work? Yes, it does, because this is not an objective examination of the history of the United States. It is a book that shows us how Roosevelt interpreted that history, his opinions of selected people and events. And, boy, did he have opinions.

If you don’t find something to offend you in this book, you just aren’t trying. Roosevelt pulled no punches. It is unlikely anyone will agree with all of his black-and-white, good vs. evil interpretations.

But it is T.R.’s strong opinions that make the book eminently readable. In our modern era, when we guard what we say to avoid offending one group or another and politicians generally express strong opinions only when they calculate such a stand will win them votes, Teddy Roosevelt’s unabashed statements seems like a breath of fresh air. Reading this book is much like listening to an opinionated, beloved uncle hold forth; it is almost a romp through American history.

Roosevelt was unyieldingly pro-America, even complaining that giving our cities names like Memphis and Cairo showed a lack of imagination; we should have made a clean break with the "old world" and made everything we created uniquely American. Yet, he also wrote disparagingly, "There are always men who consider it unpatriotic to tell the truth, if the truth is not very flattering." Elsewhere, in discussing Abraham Lincoln’s opposition to James K. Polk’s war with Mexico, he states, "Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president."

Though he said, "I am as proud of the South as I am of the North, " he had complete disdain for Southern secessionists who tried to break up the country he loved; he has great praise for Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, however. (He was about 10 when the Civil War ended, a conflict he called "a great war for righteousness." One of his uncles built CSS Alabama.) At one point he describes the people of Charleston, South Carolina, by writing, "The Charleston aristocrats offer as melancholy an example as I know of people whose whole life for generations has been warped by their own willful perversity."


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  • Avatar cool I need names of book shops in chennai where can i get tamil nadu state board books. i don't want it in online?
    Mar 13, 2010 by cool | Posted in Geography

    Book shops in chennai to purchase tamilnadu state board books.
    can anyone tel me the names of book shops in chennai where can i get state board books.i dont want those books in online , i need it as books.

    • Ya sure there are no. of books which provide state board books
      1)P.C.M Book house,T.Nagar
      2)Bhavani book store,Station road
      4)and a serveral number of stores in ranganathan street

  • Avatar Kumar Where can i get tamil nadu state board text books in pondichery?
    Apr 06, 2013 by Kumar | Posted in Geography

    I don't want online material.

    • In large shops