Tony's Reviews > The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America

The Wilderness Warrior by Douglas G. Brinkley
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's review
Sep 18, 2009

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bookshelves: presidents
Read in September, 2009

Let there be no question who the 'environmental president' was. Brinkley establishes that in meticulous, painstaking detail. I think I now know every bird TR observed, every book on nature he read, every park he created. A monograph would have been enough. Oh, there are great anecdotes and analyses here. But this bordered on Too Much Information. And the problem is that TR was not just a conservationist president. By focusing only on TR's conservationist actions, Brinkley does TR and history a disservice.

For example, Brinkley tells wonderful stories about TR's relationships with Booker T. Washington and Holt Collier, an African-American bear hunter and truly great character. Not a peep about the Brownsville incident though, which is Roosevelt's low point. So, you are left with the belief that TR was the hippest president ever in regards to African-Americans, without a racist bone or tendency. Yet, TR was a product of his time, better than most, but not without issues. Also unintended, I'm sure, is the appearance that TR vacationed more than any other president. It seems so, because that is Brinkley's focus. Not international policy, or trust-busting; but, rather, whether he slept in the open or under cover on his many hunting trips.

And, although Brinkley covers TR from birth with a microscope about his nature forays, he stops abruptly at the end of his presidency. I'm not complaining, mind you, but it's ridiculously inconsistent. TR's African trip still loomed.

I applaud the scholarship, and much of the writing. Yet, I would recommend the many full biographies, which give a fuller picture of the man himself, including his environmental efforts and love.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Clif Good review. I wondered about the failure to cover the African adventure as well. Maybe Brinkley thought that because it didn't take place in the US but in a location over which TR had no authority, it didn't belong in the book. I would have enjoyed tagging along on that safari, though. The man was a character and a half.

message 2: by Michael (new) - added it

Michael Foley I don't believe that the author's intent was to write a full biography. From the title to the cover flaps, it is apparent that Brinkley's focus is going to be on the environment and conservation. There are numerous other biographies to choose from if ones interest lies with race relations or international policy.

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