The Lion's Pride: Theodore Roosevelt and His Family in Peace and War

Edward J. Renehan, Jr., Author Oxford University Press, USA $55 (320p) ISBN 978-0-19-512719-5
In his examination of TR's last years, Renehan creates a story that is at once a family tragedy and the denouement of a way of thinking. For 39-year-old Teddy Roosevelt, the 1898 Spanish-American War was the fulfillment of a romantic martial ideal and compensation for a history of frail health and his father's use of a substitute to avoid conscription during the Civil War. His much-publicized exploits with the Rough Riders shaped his career and his sense of self to such an extent that he welcomed WWI as an opportunity for his sons and for the nation. But although TR's sons--Ted Jr., Kermit, Archie, Quentin--were eager to find the fastest way to the front, the nation and President Wilson were not. Renehan parallels TR's strident calls for military ""preparedness"" with his sons' efforts to train themselves for a war America would eventually join in 1917. Even in Europe--far from their father's influence--the boys goaded each other, going so far as calling Quentin a slacker because pneumonia prevented him from getting to the front fast enough. In the end, the Roosevelts suffered for their daring: TR would write a friend, ""[My sons] have done pretty well, haven't they? Quentin killed... Archie crippled... Ted gassed...."" But despite his bravado, TR was stricken and would outlive his youngest son by only a few months. Through previously unpublished family papers, judiciously chosen facts and a moving narrative that skillfully parallels the personal and political, Renehan reveals a great deal about American society and politics, and about the culture of war. But most of all, he tells a sad story of the end of an era and the end of a man. 36 halftones not seen by PW. BOMC, History Book Club alternate. Author tour. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/26/1998
Release date: 10/01/1998
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