Teddy Roosevelt was a very interesting man. This book covers the period of his life between his birth an his ascension to the presidency of the United States. It's the first volume in a planned three-volume history of Roosevelt's life.
Roosevelt was a man of contradictions. He was born so severely asthmatic that someone had to hold him upright in order for him to be able to sleep. With a fine disregard for his own health, though, he spent every possible minute outdoors. When laid up with asthma or related illnesses, he studied as feverishly as he explored. As a consequence, he became a very fine ornithologist and mammalogist.
Roosevelt had an almost eidetic memory. He read through books at multiple pages per minute, but had almost perfect recall of the contents, and more significantly, the meaning. While still a student at Harvard, he published the definitive work on the naval warfare of the War of 1812 -- a book that was used as a textbook in future college classes. The study for this book prepared him well to be the Assistant Secretary of the Navy in his future career.
The book is very well written -- almost like a novel. At the same time, it's well researched: 740 pages of text, more than 200 pages of references. Teddy Roosevelt had an almost appalling amount of energy. He couldn't stop moving. When he wasn't working, he was campaigning. When he wasn't campaigning, he was hunting. When he wasn't hunting, he was writing another book. When he wasn't writing a book, he was visiting with the luminaries of his day.
As presented in this book, his political philosophy was rather shallow, and mostly centered around the manifest destiny and greatness of the United States. He did some impressive things to push the nation in that direction. Prior to reading this book, I didn't realize how important a powerful navy is in protecting the nation. Hence the size and depth of the present American Navy.