A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by HaperCollins to see if I would be interested in reviewing a new book on Theodore Roosevelt. Not knowing a whole lot about our 26th president I said “sure”. Two weeks ago today the book arrived. The Wilderness Warrior by Douglas Brinkley is a hefty tome clocking in at over 800 pages, but don’t be put off by it’s size. Brinkley’s writing style is incredibly readable and grabs your interest from the start.
Brinkley shows us a side of Roosevelt that most of us are not familiar with. Most people remember him as the manly president who loved to hunt. You know, Roosevelt the Rough Rider or Roosevelt who said “speak softly and carry a big stick”. You might have heard of the “Square Deal” and the Bull Moose Party, but how many of us his lifelong love of animals or his excitement of seeing a bird in the wild. Nature seemed to energize the man whenever city life and pressures dragged him down.
Roosevelt in many ways was a man of contrasts. Even though he was a sickly individual he challenged his body to it’s limits. As much as he opposed cruelty to animals he was a big hunter, as much as he projected a “macho man” image he was both compassionate and at times possessed a childlike excitement. Brinkley’s book brings out all these sides of Roosevelt and more. As Brinkley weaves his tale he also connects Roosevelt with other conservationists of his day giving us brief vignettes of the people who had a major impact on the birth of environmentalism.
I have to say that The Wilderness Warrior is a must read for anyone with an interest in either Theodore Roosevelt, conservation, or actually if your just looking for a good book.