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The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  16,561 ratings  ·  1,857 reviews
Doris Kearns Goodwin, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of Team of Rivals, captures the Progressive Era through the story of the broken friendship between Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, culminating in their running against one another for president in 1912.
Hardcover, First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition November 2013, 910 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by Simon & Schuster
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Leanne I know you asked this question long ago, but I hope my comment can help in future. As others have noted, there is no 'reckoning' when you are finished…moreI know you asked this question long ago, but I hope my comment can help in future. As others have noted, there is no 'reckoning' when you are finished - you will take away what you need or want to from this and other long, detailed books.

I am a fast reader, but I rarely devote myself completely to these long non-fiction history books. I read them on the days the subject appeals to me, and often take a month or more to finish them. Let yourself read them on your own terms; it took me two months to read Truman's biography and even longer to finish Van Gogh's. But I truly enjoyed both.

I'm just starting this one, so we shall see how long it takes... (less)
Kenneth Cook I've worked at this in fits and starts. Got bogged down and walked away for weeks. I had to do catch up. Keeping the families straight has been diffic…moreI've worked at this in fits and starts. Got bogged down and walked away for weeks. I had to do catch up. Keeping the families straight has been difficult but I found the staffing of the magazine amazing. I have my degrees in history and had heard of all of them except Ray Baker and read a couple as required readings but never put it all together before. This period of American History was not my emphasis. I learned a lot.(less)

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Brina
Doris Kearns Goodwin is one of this country's master historians, so it is always a treat to read her books. In this tome, she compares and contrasts how the muckraking journalists influenced the Roosevelt and Taft presidencies. From a historical perspective, I get exhilarated by her writing to learn about the cast of characters and important issues of the day. I was captivated by Alice Roosevelt, leading me to read her biography later in the spring. I would think that originally Goodwin would ha ...more
Tony
Nov 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: presidents
I read about American Presidents - and I read a lot about American Presidents - in part because of the Shakespearean themes that confront them and the Shakespearean characters they become. Lyndon Johnson as Hamlet. Nixon as Macbeth. Kennedy as ...... Lothario? What kind of person wants such a position? The Presidency is not being King, where, you know, you get tenure. One has to run every four years with brutal, often dishonest opposition and scrutiny. And, once there, people expect results. It' ...more
John
Feb 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Written by the popular historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, "The Bully Pulpit" is an extremely engaging yet ultimately aimless book about the Progressive Era in American politics.

Like Kearns Goodwin's past books, "The Bully Pulpit" combines extensive research with lively writing and an eye for interesting characters in an attempt to illuminate the lives and times of particular American political leaders, in this case President Theodore Roosevelt and his friend and successor, President William Howard
...more
Melora
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I found this fascinating. The McClure's Magazine crew, Roosevelt, and Taft! Especially Taft. I really didn't know anything about him prior to this, and I was so impressed by what an utterly decent, dedicated man he was. Especially impressive in contrast with Theodore Roosevelt, who comes across here as dauntingly passionate and determined, but also as an egotistical warmonger. Taft, lacking Roosevelt's flash, was dutiful, but also loyal and forgiving. Goodwin does a wonderful job of presenting t ...more
Steven Z.
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
One of the most important friendships in American History was the relationship between Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. They had a strong bond that lasted for years and then over a short period of time their friendship began to sour resulting in a schism in the Republican Party that caused them to lose the presidential election of 1912 to the Democrat, Woodrow Wilson. Many historians have reached numerous conclusions as to why Teddy and Will went from being the best of friends to poli ...more
Aaron Million
Another excellent book by Doris Kearns Goodwin. This is more of a dual biography of Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft than it is a history of the Progressive era, although she seems to want to do both here. Goodwin is such a talented historian and biographer, successfully capturing the personal anecdotes and characteristics of her subjects while putting their actions into the context of their times.

Goodwin begins with the eagerly-anticipated return of former President Roosevelt from hi
...more
Joe
Mar 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: listened-to
Book Thirty-Six of my Presidential Challenge.

I was ready to love this book. Ultimately, I fell in like with it. I read this book because I needed a book on Taft but because I'm all about overkill, it was also about Teddy Roosevelt and Muck-racking Journalism.

What I really enjoyed:

- The exploration of Taft and Teddy's friendship. I'd always known that Taft was the hand-picked successor to Teddy, but I'd always just assured it had been a political marriage of convenience and nothing more. In reali
...more
Steve
Jan 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
http://bestpresidentialbios.com/2015/...

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and the Golden Age of Journalism” was published in 2013. Goodwin is a Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian whose 2005 “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” remains enormously popular. She has also authored biographies of John F. Kennedy, LBJ and Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

After completing “Team of Rivals” Goodwin set out to write a history of Th
...more
Jill Hutchinson
Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-history
This is not a biography of Roosevelt or Taft but an in-depth look at the political environment of the time with an extra added attraction of the role of journalism and muckraking that played a big part in shaping political opinion.
Roosevelt's dream was to be President.....Taft's dream was to sit on the US Supreme Court. These two men became fast friends and Roosevelt dragged Taft into his cabinet in his first term and as vice-president during his second. They were oil and water but seemed to com
...more
Shawn Deal
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Doris Kearns Goodwin is my favorite writing historian. In fact, she is one of my favorite writers period. Her intense love of detail and research flow through every piece of work she writes. However, what truly captures you, as a reader, is her writing style, which pulls you into the scene. She expertly weaves quotes in with her language seemlessly to provide a fully rich flow to her books.

This is one of her best. She does a lot in this book. We get a good history on the political lives of Theo
...more
Kristina
If Howard Taft and Teddy Roosevelt were alive today, they’d be appalled at the state of America and the Republican Party. Reading The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin has been a treat. It’s also a reminder of how bad things used to be and yet how much better they were. The political and economic similarities between then and now are astonishing.

Goodwin’s wonderful book follows the life of two Republican presidents fr
...more
Blaine DeSantis
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am done! I started this book way back in March and 7 months later I closed the cover on this book for the last time. Why did it take so long? Well, this is truly a weighty book with lots to digest and lots of really small type to navigate. It is a book that, in my opinion, one needs time to reflect upon and digest all that was going on over 100 years ago. So many similarities to today and such wonderful characters.
The bigger issue is where to begin in this review? The writing – superb but a
...more
Jaylia3
Jan 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Two men with very different temperaments but similar political goals are the best of friends and then bitter and public enemies in this dual biography of former presidents Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft that’s as gripping and deeply moving as a novel. Doris Kearns Goodwin, who also authored the Lincoln bio Team of Rivals, seems to have a knack for finding fascinating angles on history. The Bully Pulpit brings back to life the late nineteenth to the early twentieth century American Progr ...more
Liz
Phew! That was a long one. It was excellent, though maybe a bit TR heavy. But that is how the relationship between TR and Taft was, TR sprinting ahead and dragging everyone in his wake while Taft plods along but still makes progress. Very well written and researched with a bonus focus on the progressive journalism of the time and how much of mutual relationship they had with TR.

PopSugar Reading Challenge 2015 | Task 1: Book with more than 500 pages
Ted Hunt
Jan 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
I think I would rate this book more of a 3.5 than a 4. Doris Kearns Goodwin is a very fine writer and you can't go wrong with a book that has Theodore Roosevelt in it, but when I was finished, I found myself wondering what the thesis of the book was. She tells very well the story of the relationship between Roosevelt and Taft, bringing in details of their early friendship and Taft's time in the Philippines that I was unfamiliar with. I also enjoyed reading about the history of McClure's Magazine ...more
Scott Schneider
Nov 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Another great read from Doris Kearns Goodwin. Most people don't know much about the period in American History between the Civil War and WW I. We know a caricature of Roosevelt as the trust busting Rough Rider and Taft who couldn't fit in a regular bathtub. But they were much more complex individuals and Presidents. Roosevelt and Taft were reformers but were stymied at every turn by the Republican party bosses. They had an incredibly close relationship, until Taft became President and Roosevelt ...more
Roberta
Oct 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
Dear Ms. K-G:
Once again, I have abandoned one of your books before finishing it. Yours are the only books that have ever caused me to do this, sadly. As an avid fan of American history, I must admit that your books are really several books crammed together. "Bully Pulpit" is really three books: one about Roosevelt, one about Taft, and one about journalism during their presidencies. It's not the book lengths that are daunting: I am a voracious reader and have no issue with long, dense books. But
...more
Amy
Oct 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
On the whole, I did learn a lot from this book and I'm glad I read it as part of my presidential challenge. I learned that while he was a good president, I don’t much care for Teddy Roosevelt as a person. And I grew to greatly admire William Howard Taft as a person, although his presidency wasn’t much to write home about. And I pine for the golden olden days of journalism, when people would wait breathlessly for their copies of magazines with 30,000-word investigative articles about topics such ...more
Karla
Random thoughts:
* There's a sad irony that Nellie Taft's ambition to see her hubby president - persuading him to pass on being a Supreme Court justice to pursue higher "better" office - instead saw her suffering a stroke a month after the inaugural and becoming a virtual recluse during the whole of his administration. Her aim was to rule the social scene of being First Lady, and instead she shut herself away because she wasn't her old presentable self.

More as I think of them. :P
Ron Wroblewski
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
This is a marvelous book. I would give it more than 5 stars if possible. A long book, over 900 pages. It follows the lives of Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft plus others - especially journalists who helped them along their way. How close friends they were until 1912 when they ran against each other for the Presidency, but did resume that friendship years later. How much detail of their lives and the times, the battles they fought to prevent monopoly, breaking up the trusts. And how mu ...more
Christopher
One of the most persistent and pressing problems in recent U.S. history has been the ever widening gap between the rich and poor, the growing power of large corporations at the expense of workers, and the government's inability (or unwillingness) to address the problem seriously. Populist candidates on both the political right and left have gained a great deal of traction by criticizing our current state of affairs. As we face another election where the fate of Progressive politics for the next ...more
Gary K Bibliophile
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I checked this out through my local library. It caught my attention because I recognized Doris Kearns Goodwin as she shows up on several news programs I watch. She always seems to have insightful things to say and is knowledgeable on a great number of topics. I also recall Stephen King had reached out to her when researching 11.22.63. Well if she’s ok by SK - she’s ok by me 😀

Reading the GR blurb for the book I was a bit underwhelmed. Maybe they got to close to the max number of characters just l
...more
Jim Marshall
Feb 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing

Doris Kearns Goodwin has an uncanny knack for locating and describing historical events that anticipate and illuminate the present. In 1994, she gave us No Ordinary Time, a study of the complicated marriage between Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, just as Bill and Hillary Clinton were making their own power-marriage all too visible. In 2005, Goodwin wrote Team of Rivals, which described the political dynamics of Lincoln’s cabinet just as the decision on freeing the slaves was being debated in con
...more
Eric
Nov 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It's not often that I get misty-eyed at the ending of a history book. But the conclusion of this story of a great friendship did it to me.

At its heart, this book is about the friendship of two men. Theodore "The Colonel" Roosevelt: energetic, impulsive, combative, abrasive, but with a gung-ho charm that made him the most enduringly popular man in America for two decades. William Howard Taft: laid-back, thoughtful, guileless, genial, conciliatory, a true mensch who got along with everyone. I alre
...more
Dan Edgar
Jan 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
A very good telling about the peak kickoff of progressives in the US.

The Edmund Morris books, and River of Doubt have more detailed accounts of the life and presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.

This book does an amazing job retelling the presidential election of 1912 where Roosevelt forced a Republican Party split which allowed Woodrow Wilson to become president.

The author really makes Taft come to life. In my education I learned that Taft was more of a do nothing kind of guy. Nothing could be fu
...more
Caroline
Nov 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history
The American title for this book was 'The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism'. Presumably the publishers pulled Taft from the title and the cover since they assumed UK readers wouldn't know who he was? Theodore Roosevelt has long been one of my favourite political figures - such a vivid, vibrant larger-than-life personality, he's hard not feel a great deal of fondness for. Taft, on the other hand, was a character I knew very little about, so t ...more
Cassie
Oct 21, 2013 rated it liked it
As always, I learned a ton from reading this Doris Kearns Goodwin book. However, I generally enjoyed this one less than I've enjoyed her others because the marriage of the two topics--the rise of investigative, socially-minded journalism and these two presidents--felt forced. In the beginning, I believed her premise was that Teddy Roosevelt was a more successful president than Taft because of his ability to rein the power of the journalists for his own benefit. But by the end, it was no longer c ...more
Dawn
Sep 16, 2013 rated it liked it
The more things change….

“The cost to both his party and the country would be immense, [TR] believed, if ‘the people at large’ perceived ‘that the Republican party had become unduly subservient to the so-called Wall Street men – to the men of mere wealth, the plutocracy’.”

“The most important opinion Judge [Alphonso] Taft rendered on the superior court upheld the right of the local school board to prohibit the reading of the Bible in public schools…. ‘The school board has an obligation as well as
...more
Jennifer
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
Reading this book is another great example of how I am sadly under educated in history. So many critically important events and legislation occurred during this time period. I applaud all of Roosevelt's early work but I feel some of his later machinations were dangerous.

I empathize with Taft. There have been two other president's specifically that I feel could have had greater impact and legacies if they had used the media to their advantage versus waiting for history to decide or someone else
...more
Jimmy Reagan
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
You would have thought the design of this book would have caused it to collapse under its own weight. I mean how could a biography of two presidents along with the most influential journalists of the age possibly work? I mean the word that comes to mind is–unfocused! Believe it or not, Doris Kearns Goodwin pulled it off. Count this as one of the really enjoyable presidential biographies out there.

Having Teddy Roosevelt didn’t hurt its chances of holding interest with his colorful life. I’ve read
...more
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DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN’s interest in leadership began more than half a century ago as a professor at Harvard. Her experiences working for LBJ in the White House and later assisting him on his memoirs led to her bestselling "Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream." She followed up with the Pulitzer Prize–winning "No Ordinary Time: Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II." She earn ...more

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