Mornings on Horseback
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Mornings on Horseback

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  11,041 ratings  ·  743 reviews
Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life, and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt is the brilliant biography of the young Theodore Roosevelt. Hailed as a masterpiece by Newsday, it also won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography. Now with a new introduction by the author, Mornings on Horseback is reprinted as a...more
Paperback, 445 pages
Published May 12th 1982 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1981)
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Michael
A satisfying and well written portrait of Roosevelt’s youth. It’s up to the reader to make the linkages between his origins and him as President. That’s the only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars. For what McCullough intends, it was very satisfying to me:

My intention was not to write a biography of him. What intrigued me was how he came to be. … There were pieces of the puzzle that fascinated me—his childhood battle with asthma, for example, his beautiful southern mother, the adoration he had for...more
Jay Connor
OK. Here's my definition of fanatic. After just finishing a wonderful extended look at Teddy Roosevelt post-presidency ("Colonel Roosevelt" - reviewed here and given 5 Stars last month); I went back and re-read David McCullough's excellent biography of Teddy's family history and his early years.

Don't let anyone convince you that "nurture" isn't a powerful contributor to who we are. Not the exclusive contributor -- Teddy's own brother Elliot bears witness to that -- but powerful, nonetheless. Tw...more
Janis
Oct 26, 2007 Janis rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: history buffs/readers of biographies
A biography covering the early life of Theodore Roosevelt, from his childhood through his years as a Dakota rancher, this book is also a fascinating account of the entire colorful Roosevelt family and the times in which they lived. I could hardly put it down. I especially loved the way the author was able to draw such vivid pictures of this dynamic man -- Roosevelt reading Anna Karenina while guarding thieves at gunpoint...in horseback and dressed in full "dude" outfit, telling his cowboys to "h...more
Marjorie Hakala
Sep 08, 2008 Marjorie Hakala rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Marjorie by: I nicked it off Liz's to-read list
I read this in two and a half days (hey, I was on vacation). I had no particular interest in TR going in, but once I got into this book, I kept missing bits of conversations because I was sneaking in a few more paragraphs about the Roosevelts' nineteenth-century rich-people escapades. McCullough packs in a lot of historical background here, and he got me to think twice about things like philanthropy in a time apparently without liberal guilt (with our vast wealth we'll give generously to many ch...more
Craig
I love David McCullough and think he is a national treasure. "Truman" is my favorite biography of all time, I loved Mr McCullough's narration of "The Civil War," and he is from Pittsburgh to boot.

I liked "Mornings on Horseback" a lot. It left me wanting to learn more about Theodore Roosevelt and visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the "Bad Lands" of both Dakotas. I now smile when I see video clips of "TR" and strive to be more like him (and his father) in some ways. For me, though, what...more
Lightreads
Combination biography of Teddy Roosevelt’s early years and historical portrait of a time and class. This is a book which emphasizes letters, much to my pleasure. McCullough writes good history in the way that he can pick just the right details to give you as complete a picture of people as possible without droning on for pages about, oh just for an example, what George Washington ate for breakfast on each successive day of the week. The portrait of aristocratic life in New York in the last decad...more
Arminius
This is another great book by one of history’s greatest story tellers. David McCullough describes the childhood of our 26th president Theodore Roosevelt in “Mornings on Horseback” with little known details of how Teddy Roosevelt became a great man. He begins with Theodore’s grandfather whom started the wealthy Roosevelt family. His name was Cornelius and he started a glass manufacturing company which was the sole glass making company in New York City in the 1800’s. He used this money to buy rea...more
Kressel Housman
Author David McCullough introduces this biography of Teddy Roosevelt by saying that his first encounter with "the president" was when his brother was playing him in a school production of "Arsenic and Old Lace." Because of that, I'm not ashamed to admit that an entertainment venue sparked my interest in this book also: the American Film Company is planning a movie called "Born in the Badlands" about Teddy Roosevelt's cowboy years in the Dakotas (coinciding with Laura and Almanzo's first four, in...more
Suzanne
Foremost historian David McCullough won several awards for this biography of Theodore Roosevelt's early life. McCullough was able to piece together the various personalities and events through personal correspondence, family records and news stories of the day. His goal was to uncover the events and people that helped shaped the future president's personality, drive and ambitions.

In this he succeeded admirably. Yet still, there was something about this work that didn't quite hold the same attrac...more
Lisa
Although billed as a biography of the early life of Theodore Roosevelt, it really is as much a social history as a biography. As one expects from McCullough, the work is well researched and well written.

It is a particularly engaging work because he has taken the time and effort to clearly develop the stories and characters of Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. and his wife, Martha Bulloch Roosevelt, known as Mittie. To a lesser extent, one comes to know the future president's siblings and his large and clo...more
Melani
I checked this out to listen to in the car on a whim. There was really nothing else at the library that I even remotely wanted to try out. I really had no interest in Teddy Roosevelt and only checked it out because I have liked the other books that I have read by McCullough.

Well let me say that McCollough did not disappoint. I was very quickly drawn into his depiction of New York high society in the post Civil War era. I was enthralled as I heard about Theodore Roosevelt Senior and his wife taki...more
Erik Graff
Sep 16, 2012 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Americans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
Having just finished a book about the Spanish American War and the U.S. military occupation of the Philippines, I decided to proceed to a biography of one of those responsible for all that unneeded misery: Theodore Roosevelt. Having recently read his 1776 with enjoyment, I selected McCullough's Mornings of Horseback.

It wasn't quite what I expected, being a biography of the man and his family going only up to his unsuccessful race for the mayoralty of New York, but perhaps it served as an antidot...more
Diane
To give a brief summary of the book, I'll just quote the subtitle of the book: "The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life, and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt. " It is not at all a comprehensive study of TR's life. Rather, it is a study of the family he came from, and how he became who he was. The book ends when TR is in his mid-twenties - just ready to launch his comprehensive political career. It was fabulous.

If you want to know more about TR - read Edmund Mo...more
Tamhack
I am a fan of David McCullough the author because of his great eye for detail and research that he puts into his into his books. I always learn something new. This book not only reported on Theodore Roosevelt but his colorful family and how they were fit into history.

One of the characters that I thought was interesting in more so than Theodore was his sister "Bamie" Anna Roosevelt:
Pg 32-"Bamie was the mainstay, then and for as long as she lived. For a girl born into New York society she was also...more
Beth Cato
It took me two weeks to read through this book, but not because it was dull. Quite the contrary--I found it much more compelling than I expected. There's a reason this book is still so highly acclaimed and reviewed after thirty years. McCullough creates an interesting narrative, but the source material helps. The Roosevelts are just plain quirky and interesting. Anyone who delves into research knows original source material is best, and the Roosevelt family kept an incredible number of diaries a...more
Tim
McCullough's book on the Roosevelt family and the environment that shaped young Teddy obviously required deep research into the entire family's correspondence and the author quotes that research at much length. Overall, it is an idyllic picture and removed from the larger history of the nation. The Roosevelt's are a family of wealth and privilege and the author rests on the details of that privilege. I would have loved more detail on Teddy's interest in natural history, the nature of his studies...more
John Cass
Mornings on Horseback is a meandering and slow paced biography covering the lives of three generations of Roosevelts. Living in Dutch New York at the end of the 19th century, the book tells of the fortunes, adventures, disappointments, and the daily lives in general of this prominent and privileged family.

The book's main focus is on the childhood of Theodore Roosevelt, who diligently kept a detailed diary as a young boy, which provides the bulk of the source material. This, together with the lar...more
Bobbi
I love David McCullough's books and this is one of his best. Instead of going through TR's time as President which has been told by many others, this book concentrates on his younger years, growing up in the wealthy Roosevelt family. (Did you know this branch of the Roosevelts made their money by importing plate glass? A surprise to me.) Teddy's father was a philanthropist and from all accounts an exceptionally caring person who, unfortunately died in his 40s, as did Teddy's mother. Equally inte...more
Trudy
Aug 19, 2008 Trudy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Trudy by: My son Jon
This book took me months to wade through, while I put it down to read another, went back to it, put it down again to read another, etc. Often it would put me to sleep. In short, I am not sure why everyone likes David McCullough's writing, though I shouldn't say that without reading one or two of his others.

What I didn't like about the book: 1. It wasn't written in a linear timeline; he jumped around or wasn't clear on when things he covered occurred. 2. He dropped all kinds of names of New York...more
Drew
A fine read, not surprisingly since it was written by David McCullough. I have not previously known anything about the Roosevelt family or about Theodore Roosevelt's parents--fascinating people. Roosevelt's childhood infirmities influenced him significantly and to our benefit--one huge example being our national parks.

This book is about Theodore Roosevelt's life from childhood until about the age of 40. It is no surprise that he became President tho the book ends prior to that time. Roosevelt ha...more
Dayna
The main reason I give this book a 3 is that I am comparing it to other David McCullough books I've read, and this is weaker than those. The beginning is great, Teddy's childhood and the detail about his amazing father is fascinating.I love the eccentricities of his parents and the luxurious vacations they took as a family. Even his stay at Harvard and his early marriage was interesting - but once it started to get into the detail of his early political career and his time as a rancher in the Ba...more
Greg
Holding true to form, I have never been disappointed in a book written by David McCullough.
This is a book that shouts the value of the unmatched influence of a family on one another. Father on mother, parents on children, and children on children. Granted, this family was one of means, but history has shown that a family of means holds no guarantee of happiness within or without a family circle. Their winter trip to the Nile could just as easily have been a family trip to a potato farm in Idaho...more
Rachel
Finally finished this morning during breakfast. This is a thoroughly enjoyable account of the childhood and early manhood of my favorite president and his fascinating family. It must have been a piece of work, putting together all of those letters and journal accounts to paint a picture of such an energetic and inspiring set of people. They were a thoroughly 'modern' family with thoroughly Old World values, but the contradictions read as delightful and endearing rather than hypocritical. Were I...more
Tracey
Borrowed audiobook from CrankyAsAnOldMan

Into chapter 3, where the family takes the Grand Tour of Europe in 1869. I'm really enjoying the story of this remarkable family & am impressed by the amount of history McCullough brings in to the narrative. Wonderfully narrated by Edward Herrmann (with some sort of interstitial/pinch hitting by a woman)- I'd like to find more of his work as well!
...
I really feel as if I've gotten to know this family, as well as quite a bit about the time period. I fo...more
Robert Melnyk
I enjoyed this book on TR, by David McCullough, although I don't think it was as good as the other two I read by him, John Adams and Truman. I think far too much time was spent on Roosevelt's early battles with asthma. It was interesting reading about it, but just too much time and detail was devoted to it. I would have liked it better if that had been cut shorter and some time was spent on Roosevelt's later political life, rather than ending it basically with his run for Mayor of NYC. All in al...more
Linda Howe Steiger
Re-read this for my book club, and it was a great success--producing much lively discussion. And I enjoyed the re-read, as I'd forgotten much of the detail, alas. McCullough writes of course with both lucidity and intensity of a popular novelist. Easy to read, and illuminating. What a family, the Roosevelts--among the good rich guys by and large, a socially responsible, incorruptible Republican--made their money in plate glass. Fell in love all over again with Theodore Roosevelt, Sr., Teedy's fa...more
Benita
Mar 02, 2014 Benita added it
Shelves: book-club
Fascinating childhood and early adult years--even more interesting family. Theodore Roosevelt's father seems like someone I would admire, but not necessarily befriend. His mother, with all her strange ways, and fragile beauty, I would definitely not befriend. Of course, that assumes we would be in the same social circles, and my origins are much too far down the social hierarchy for that to have happened. (Maybe I would have been on the staff of their mansion--except my family headed west...) An...more
Lester Sander
For one of my choice books I read "Mornings on Horseback" by David McCullough. Mrs. Kasten recommended it to me one night at cross country practice. Mrs. Kasten said Theodore Roosevelt grew up with asthma, and I also have asthma so she thought I would find it interesting. "Mornings on Horseback" is a biography about Theodore Roosevelt's life as he grew up to become our 26th president. I'll be honest this book was very boring. A few times while I was reading it I fell asleep.

However this book...more
Rich Law
People expecting a straight up biography may be disappointed. Of course, the subtitle makes clear that this isn't going to be your standard cradle to grave narrative, but still I was surprised to the extent that the book concerns itself with Theodore's family, each member of which gets their fair share of McCullough's attention and words, bringing them back to life in a way that admittedly even Edmund Morris's peerless trilogy of biographies didn't do.

Even then, this book doesn't follow typical...more
Chris
A classic, one of the best bios of TR, even though it only covers his early years. The depth of his story presented by McCullough even dwarfs Edmund Morris' classic first volume of his Roosevelt biographies, and the two books actually make wonderful companions because both are among the best of biographies. It's a grand story by a grand writer who is not afraid of writing a beautiful and engaging narrative about a subject he clearly adores.
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Literazzi: Mornings on Horseback 7 10 Dec 03, 2011 05:07PM  
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David Gaub McCullough is an American author, narrator, historian, and lecturer. He is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian award.

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, McCullough earned a degree in English literature from Yale University. His first book was The Johnstown Flood (1968); a...more
More about David McCullough...
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“A man who will steal for me will steal from me." Theodore Roosevelt, dismissing on the spot one of his best cowhands who was about to claim for his boss an unmarked animal.” 3 likes
“I feel that as much as I enjoy loafing, there is something higher for which to live.” 2 likes
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