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Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life, and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt
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Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life, and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  26,421 ratings  ·  1,389 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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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  26,421 ratings  ·  1,389 reviews

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Start your review of Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life, and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt
Elyse  Walters
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing

There was so much I didn't know about Teddy Roosevelt until this book. I had no idea the obstacles he had go through to be the 'Roosevelt' people would remember--given the accomplished man his 'father' was.

By the time I came to the end --my love for TR was tenfold. His childhood was challenging with asthma.... with horrible medications at the time. His early adulthood was marked by tragedy. As a political figure he's a man that change the world.

I loved Teddy Roo
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
Apr 13, 2014 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
Jay Connor
Feb 17, 2011 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
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love David McCullough. He writes books about things you did not know that you needed to know. “Mornings on Horseback” is yet another example of a book about a subject matter I thought I would have no interest in, but I was very wrong.
This text is about Teddy Roosevelt’s immediate family and his upbringing. It ends in the mid-1880s right after his second marriage. He is all of 28 years old, and the more “famous” aspects of his life are not even addressed. Moreover, it is utterly absorbing readi
Eric Lin
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This might be embarrassing to admit, but whatever. This book has a twist, since it starts off talking about a young Theodore Roosevelt. It took me maybe 25% of the book to realize that the Theodore Roosevelt that was being discussed at length was President Theodore Roosevelt's father. I think listening to this in audio format definitely made this 'reveal' more effective, since "Teddy", as his parents called him was pronounced "TEE-DEE".

30 min into the book: wait. I thought he married some woman
Oct 19, 2007 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
May 02, 2010 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
Apr 24, 2016 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
I recently finished River of Doubt, the saga of Roosevelt and company exploring a tributary of the Amazon. He did this after his presidency and after his unsuccessful attempt to regain that presidency in 1912.

I had to read more. What was Roosevelt like as a child? What formed him? What was his family like?

I got my questions answered. This book more than fit the bill.

I did listen to most on an abridged audio read by Edward Hermann. His voice is mellifluous. I am lucky his voice did not put me to
Sep 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Teddy was a man of vigor and action, but rather than thrusting us headlong into the travail and adventure of his youth, McCullough lacks commitment, perhaps even desiring to keep a distance. Maybe this is simply a byproduct of constraints. There is so much to cover, and in a book of only three hundred and some pages the writer is forced to jump quickly from one scene to the next. Still, I sensed a true reluctance from McCullough. He seems content to remain a detached observer, and it leaves us r ...more
J.M. Hushour
Jul 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is what I could call a 'formative biography', not so much about the real nitty-gritty of a life, but those early aspects that acted upon and around that most precious of things, the malleable human mind and spirit. When it comes to someone like Theodore Roosevelt, there are immediate, one-punch associations that come to mind and that tend to define the character of the man as we see him now and imagine him then. But behind all that, as McCullough shows us was something far more fascinating. ...more
This was absolutely fascinating and full of information that I immediately wanted to discuss with others (which they did not always appreciate!).
Kressel Housman
Jul 22, 2013 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
Apr 17, 2008 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
Barnabas Piper
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
The subject carried this book. It’s not one of the author’s best - felt like a research essay more than a full manuscript. That said, Roosevelt’s background is fascinating. Such a unique figure.
May 07, 2013 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
Marjorie Hakala
Sep 08, 2008 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
Marsha B
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
The author did a fantastic job of telling a story based on historical accounts, journals, and letters written by family and those closest to them. Honestly, I expected bias and that the story would be told seeing Theodore Roosevelt through rose colored glasses, and maybe that was the case in some instances, but overall this was not so. I saw goodness and fault throughout, and felt like I was truly able imagine the lives of this family, beginning with the courtship of President Roosevelt’s parent ...more
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Mornings on Horseback is another in long line of books on the biography of Theodore Roosevelt. I was a little disappointed and I blame myself for not reading the sleeve of the book that this is not a full biography of T.R. just his early life. What the reader gets is about 30% Teddy and the rest is about ancestors, random politicians of the age, his extended family and ends right before he becomes President. Yet, David McCullough did his usual job of researching and then weaving it into an exce ...more
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
Erik Graff
May 05, 2009 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
Aug 07, 2009 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
Sep 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book. It is brilliant. To understand Theodore Roosevelt you have to understand his family background. His father paid a substitute to fight for him in the Civil War, but was actively involved in social work and in trying to improve society. His mother came from a family in Georgia which was actively involved in the civil war. You also need to understand Theodore's place in the family and his parents attitudes toward raising children. Lots on information on Roosevelt's first marriage ...more
Porter Broyles
When compared to The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris, this book comes up short.

It is the weakest David McCullough book I have read. Of course, the weakest David MuCullough book is still better than most!
Matthew Caton
Jun 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very interesting book, especially regarding Teddy Roosevelt’s childhood.
Jimmy Reagan
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Though this book could not be classified as a regular biography, as the story of Teddy Roosevelt ended in this volume before the famous parts even began, it was still a joy to read. David McCullough is easily one of my favorite authors. I’ve read over half of the books he’s written, and he always writes in a style that appeals to me. He often makes his nonfiction works read with the energy of great fiction. Though I would not label this volume my favorite of his books that I’ve read, I still enj ...more
Dec 27, 2008 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
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography-memoir
It should be a crime to write a biography this good and end the biography halfway through the figure's life without writing any sequel to finish it out. I'm going to need to find another biographer to finish the job that McCullough left off here...

All that aside, this was truly excellent. It gave a rather full picture of Roosevelt's early life, and I found the politics of the late 19th century to be quite fascinating. A Republican party that's being corrupted by lust for power and choosing to el
Rachel Reads Ravenously
DNF (audiobook)

I listened to the audio version of this book. Back in the day I was a history major, so I was trying to get back in the swing of things. Theodore Roosevelt is one of the more interesting presidents IMO. But after 3 discs of listening to random things about his uncle's cousins stepsons wife's kid, I became extremely bored and the book lost me. It was hard to keep track of who was who. When I pick up a book about Teddy Roosevelt, I want to hear about him. Not about everyone in the f
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Literazzi: Mornings on Horseback 7 16 Dec 03, 2011 05:07PM  

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David McCullough is a Yale-educated, two-time recipient of both the Pulitzer Prize (Truman; John Adams) and the National Book Award (The Path Between the Seas; Mornings on Horseback). His many other highly-acclaimed works of historical non-fiction include The Greater Journey, 1776, Brave Companions, The Great Bridge, The Wright Brothers, and The Johnstown Flood. He has been honored with the Nation ...more

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