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Mornings on Horseback

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  17,553 Ratings  ·  999 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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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
Jay Connor
Feb 17, 2011 Jay Connor rated it really liked it
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
Dec 09, 2015 Hana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Theodore Roosevelt--pioneering naturalist, Rough Rider, hero of San Juan Hill, populist reformer, trust buster, champion of the National Park system, the President with his "big stick", the Bull Moose--he seems like a force of nature, something unstoppable. But how did it happen? How did a sickly, asthmatic child who was not expected to live become this towering wave of pure human energy? Both nature, nurture and self-will shaped the boy and the man and McCullough does a masterful job discoverin ...more
Oct 26, 2007 Janis rated it it was amazing
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 horseback and dressed in full "dude" outfit, telling his cowboys to "h ...more
Apr 30, 2015 Arminius rated it it was amazing
Shelves: presidents
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
May 04, 2016 Joe rated it liked it
Shelves: listened-to
My 4th book on Teddy Roosevelt. I just can't quit this guy! This book was okay but probably could have been called "White Privilege: The Book" instead. It does give the reader a good idea about Teddy's upbringing and his family. He definitely had some tragedies in his life: His first wife and his mother died within hours of each other. He also struggled with asthma as a child. But most of his early life was that of a filthy rich little kid getting to go on outrageous adventures. It's no wonder h ...more
Marjorie Hakala
Sep 08, 2008 Marjorie Hakala rated it really liked it
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
Apr 01, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it

“Mornings on Horseback” is David McCullough’s 1981 biography covering Theodore Roosevelt’s childhood and was the 1982 Pulitzer finalist in the biography category. McCullough is a well-regarded author and historian best known for his biographies of John Adams and Harry Truman. His latest book “The Wright Brothers” will be published this May.

Covering the first twenty-eight years of Roosevelt’s life, McCullough’s narrative provides a fascinating perspective o
Kressel Housman
Sep 07, 2016 Kressel Housman rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 19, 2008 Trudy rated it liked it
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
Gabriela Paige
Sep 15, 2016 Gabriela Paige rated it really liked it
Amazing. I did not know that Theodore Roosevelt had such an incredible and interesting story.
Aug 24, 2009 Craig rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2009
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
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
Dec 27, 2008 Lightreads rated it really liked it
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
Erik Graff
Sep 16, 2012 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  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
Dec 15, 2009 Melani rated it it was amazing
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
Teddy Roosevelt, David McCullough, and Edward Herrmann - a trifecta of legendary proportions. Excellent narration, excellent writing, excellent subject.

This book takes a step back in time, before Teddy ever became President. Back when he was Teedie and idolized his father. Back to his childhood and my oh my it was fantastic. You know those books where you just want to gush over them IN ALL CAPS AND !!!! That is Mornings on Horseback.

This larger-than-life figure had a lot to live up to with his f
May 23, 2010 Dayna rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle
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
Oct 23, 2008 Diane rated it it was amazing
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
Robert Melnyk
Apr 26, 2013 Robert Melnyk rated it liked it
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
Apr 13, 2014 Tamhack rated it liked it
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
Beth Cato
Apr 05, 2014 Beth Cato rated it really liked it
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
John Cass
Apr 23, 2011 John Cass rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, audio
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
Aaron Lenentine
Nov 29, 2012 Aaron Lenentine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I have yet to read anything from this guy that's not five stars! The only downfall to his writing style is that he is so incredibly thorough in his research and development phase that it takes him years to complete a project.

Obviously, that's also one of his best qualities since I've yet to come across a historian who does a better job at capturing the character's true daily life, rituals and behaviors. All with a great prose! What more could you ask of a historian!?

McCullough also does a great

Extremely well written. It is evident that an extreme amount of research and time has gone into the making of this book. Although I had to read this as summer reading, I'm glad that I chose this one out of all the options, never once regretting my decision to choose the lengthier, arguably more boring one. This is not just biography about Theodore Roosevelt's early life, it's about his family, his early political career, his struggle with asthma and so much more.

The parts I thoroughly enjoye
Aug 30, 2013 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Probably 3.5 stars

To call this biography of the Theodore Roosevelt Sr. family comprehensive would be an understatement. Master Storyteller David McCullough relates more than a chronological history of this family. To help us understand who Teddy Roosevelt was and what made him this way, McCullough goes into detail about any myriad of things that had an influence on him or his siblings (including an in-depth analysis of asthma).

After all, we are more than just our own story. Lives overlap. Cultu
May 24, 2009 Josh rated it it was ok
Sadly I found this book disappointing. I think that the problem centered around McCullough having a ton of research at his fingertips, recognizing that no other author had tackled this subject, but not having a clear direction what he wanted to give his readers. The book is divided into three sections and each section goes off in different directions. The first third deals with Teddy Roosevelt's parents, how they met, and their lives. The second third deals with the Roosevelt household's adventu ...more
Aug 20, 2012 Bobbi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, five-stars
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
Jun 23, 2011 Tim rated it liked it
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
Jul 30, 2009 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
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
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Literazzi: Mornings on Horseback 7 14 Dec 03, 2011 05:07PM  
  • Colonel Roosevelt
  • Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield
  • T.R.: The Last Romantic
  • Grant
  • Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln's Legacy
  • Eisenhower: Soldier and President
  • Mr. Jefferson's Hammer: William Henry Harrison and the Origins of American Indian Policy
  • Eleanor and Franklin
  • President James Buchanan: A Biography
  • Washington: The Indispensable Man
  • Madison and Jefferson
  • Nixon Agonistes: The Crisis of the Self-Made Man
  • John Tyler: The Accidental President
  • Coolidge
  • Woodrow Wilson: A Biography
  • The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope
  • John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, a Private Life
  • A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent
David McCullough has been widely acclaimed as a “master of the art of narrative history,” “a matchless writer.” He is twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize, twice winner of the National Book Award, and has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.

(update: His most recent book is The Wright Brothers, published on May 5th 2015 by Simon & Schuster.)

Mr. McCullou
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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.” 4 likes
“I feel that as much as I enjoy loafing, there is something higher for which to live.” 3 likes
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