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The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for Americaby Douglas Brinkley
Synopses & Reviews
In this groundbreaking epic biography, Douglas Brinkley draws on never-before-published materials to examine the life and achievements of our naturalist president. By setting aside more than 230 million acres of wild America for posterity between 1901 and 1909, Theodore Roosevelt made conservation a universal endeavor. This crusade for the American wilderness was perhaps the greatest U.S. presidential initiative between the Civil War and World War I. Roosevelt's most important legacies led to the creation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and passage of the Antiquities Act in 1906. His executive orders saved such treasures as Devils Tower, the Grand Canyon, and the Petrified Forest.
Tracing the role that nature played in Roosevelt's storied career, Brinkley brilliantly analyzes the influence that the works of John James Audubon and Charles Darwin had on the young man who would become our twenty-sixth president. With descriptive flair, the author illuminates Roosevelt's bird watching in the Adirondacks, wildlife obsession in Yellowstone, hikes in the Blue Ridge Mountains, ranching in the Dakota Territory, hunting in the Big Horn Mountains, and outdoor romps through Idaho and Wyoming. He also profiles Roosevelt's incredible circle of naturalist friends, including the Catskills poet John Burroughs, Boone and Crockett Club cofounder George Bird Grinnell, forestry zealot Gifford Pinchot, buffalo breeder William Hornaday, Sierra Club founder John Muir, U.S. Biological Survey wizard C. Hart Merriam, Oregon Audubon Society founder William L. Finley, and pelican protector Paul Kroegel, among many others. He brings to life hilarious anecdotes of wild-pig hunting in Texas and badger saving in Kansas, wolf catching in Oklahoma and grouse flushing in Iowa. Even the story of the teddy bear gets its definitive treatment.
Destined to become a classic, this extraordinary and timeless biography offers a penetrating and colorful look at Roosevelt's naturalist achievements, a legacy now more important than ever. Raising a Paul Revere-like alarm about American wildlife in peril — including buffalo, manatees, antelope, egrets, and elk — Roosevelt saved entire species from probable extinction. As we face the problems of global warming, overpopulation, and sustainable land management, this imposing leader's stout resolution to protect our environment is an inspiration and a contemporary call to arms for us all.
"This book has Rooseveltian energy. It is largehearted, full of the vitality of its subject and a palpable love for the landscapes it describes." New York Times Book Review
"Magisterial and timely, given the manifold environmental crises facing the current administration." Kirkus Reviews
"This very readable biography showcases an impressive amount of research.... Best suited for academics, armchair historians, or the most avid of biography enthusiasts." Library Journal
"Gifted and versatile historian Brinkley foregrounds Roosevelt's profound passion for nature in a biography as expansive and radiant as the glorious landscapes Roosevelt zealously preserved." (Starred Review) Booklist
"What an absolutely perfect match between subject and writer. This is a major contribution to our understanding not only of Roosevelt but of the historic movement to save our wilderness." Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals
The New York Times-bestselling historian has written an extraordinary and timeless biography that looks at the influence the natural world played on Theodore Roosevelt. b&w photo insert.
Award-winning historian Brinkley examines the life and achievements of America's Naturalist President. The author argues that it was Theodore Roosevelt — by setting aside 230 million acres of Wild America for posterity — who turned conservationism into a universal endeavor.
"Douglas Brinkley brings to this magnificent story of Theodore Roosevelt's crusade on behalf of America's national parks the same qualities that made TR so fascinating a figure—an astonishing range of knowledge, a superb narrative skill, a wonderfully vivid writing style and an inexhaustible energy."
—Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals
A vast, inspiring, and enormously entertaining book.”
From New York Times bestselling historian Douglas Brinkley comes a sweeping historical narrative and eye-opening look at the pioneering environmental policies of President Theodore Roosevelt, avid bird-watcher, naturalist, and the founding father of Americas conservation movement—now approaching its 100th anniversary.
Ian Tyrrelland#8217;s eye-opening book is both a cohesive picture of Teddy Rooseveltand#8217;s engagements with the natural world but, far more important, a compelling portrait of how Americans used and worried about natural resources in a time of burgeoning empire. Industrial commodities such as wood, water, and oiland#151;as well as and#147;natureand#8221; itselfand#151;were for the first time seen as central to the countryand#8217;s economic health, spiritual integrity, and international might. Contrary to traditional narratives, Tyrrell shows that the domestic conservation movement had global significance, as it entailed not merely drawing attention to beautiful vistas; rather, it was key to domestic security and to defining American interests around the world.
Theodore Roosevelt first set foot into the field as a very young man, started a natural history museum at 8 years old, and reveled in expeditions in the field throughout his life. His adventures defined him--his policies and his personaand#151;and are wonderfully chronicled in his journals and notebooks. TRand#8217;s constant quest and passion for the outdoors influenced his experiences from the Spanish American War, to negotiations with Cuba, to hikes through Yellowstone with John Muir.and#160;
Michael Canfield uses the notebooks to illuminate the force of nature in TRand#8217;s life.and#160; He isolates the elements that drove Roosevelt-- his love of science and nature, his need to express manliness, his drive for empireand#151;all of which share a common thru line, that of a propelling wish to act these out in the field.and#160; The outdoors to Roosevelt was like a perfect field jacket, which had a specific purpose, and yet which he donned for many pursuitsand#151;hunting, fishing, hiking, natural history study.and#160; This work invites readers to join TR on his adventures, with Canfield as a guide, and in the pages of his writings unearth a better understanding of what drove one of historyand#8217;s most remarkable characters.
Never has there been a president less content to sit still behind a desk than Theodore Roosevelt. When we picture him, heand#39;s on horseback or standing at a cliffandrsquo;s edge or dressed for safari. And Roosevelt was more than just an adventurerandmdash;he was also a naturalist and campaigner for conservation. His love of the outdoor world began at an early age and was driven by a need not to simply observe nature but to be actively involved in the outdoorsandmdash;to be in the field. As Michael R. Canfield reveals in Theodore Roosevelt in the Field, throughout his life Roosevelt consistently took to the field as a naturalist, hunter, writer, soldier, and conservationist, and it is in the field where his passion for science and nature, his belief in the manly, andldquo;strenuous life,andrdquo; and his drive for empire all came together.
Drawing extensively on Rooseveltandrsquo;s field notebooks, diaries, and letters, Canfield takes readers into the field on adventures alongside him. and#160;From Rooseveltandrsquo;s early childhood observations of ants to his notes on ornithology as a teenager, Canfield shows how Rooseveltandrsquo;s quest for knowledge coincided with his interest in the outdoors. We later travel to the Badlands, after the deaths of Rooseveltandrsquo;s wife and mother, to understand his embrace of the rugged freedom of the ranch lifestyle and the Western wilderness. Finally, Canfield takes us to Africa and South America as we consider Rooseveltandrsquo;s travels and writings after his presidency. Throughout, we see how the seemingly contradictory aspects of Rooseveltandrsquo;s biography as a hunter and a naturalist are actually complementary traits of a man eager to directly understand and experience the environment around him.and#160; and#160;
As our connection to the natural world seems to be more tenuous, Theodore Roosevelt in the Field offers the chance to reinvigorate our enjoyment of nature alongside one of historyandrsquo;s most bold and restlessly curious figures.
Long before people were andldquo;going greenandrdquo; and toting reusable bags, the Progressive generation of the early 1900s was calling for the conservation of resources, sustainable foresting practices, and restrictions on hunting. Industrial commodities such as wood, water, soil, coal, and oil, as well as improvements in human health and the protection of andldquo;natureandrdquo; in an aesthetic sense, were collectively seen for the first time as central to the countryandrsquo;s economic well-being, moral integrity, and international power. One of the key drivers in the rise of the conservation movement was Theodore Roosevelt, who, even as he slaughtered animals as a hunter, fought to protect the countryandrsquo;s natural resources.
Inand#160;Crisisand#160;of the Wasteful Nation, Ian Tyrrell gives us a cohesive picture of Rooseveltandrsquo;s engagement with the natural world along with a compelling portrait of how Americans used, wasted, and worried about natural resources in a time of burgeoning empire. Countering traditional narratives that cast conservation as a purely domestic issue, Tyrrell shows that the movement had global significance, playing a key role in domestic security and in defining American interests around the world. Tyrrell goes beyond Roosevelt to encompass other conservation advocates and policy makers, particularly those engaged with shaping the nationandrsquo;s economic and social policiesandmdash;policies built on an understanding of the importance of crucial natural resources.and#160;Crisis of the Wasteful Nationand#160;is a sweeping transnational work that blends environmental, economic, and imperial history into a cohesive tale of Americaandrsquo;s fraught relationships with raw materials, other countries, and the animal kingdom.
About the Author
Douglas Brinkley is a professor of history at Rice University and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. The Chicago Tribune has dubbed him "America's new past master." Six of his books have been selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year. His most recent book, The Great Deluge, won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He lives in Texas with his wife and three children.
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