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

Doris Kearns Goodwin. Simon & Schuster, $40 (960p) ISBN 978-1-416-54786-0
Bestselling author Goodwin (Team of Rivals) continues her presidential coverage in her latest history book, this time constructing a narrative around the friendship of two very different Presidents, Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. The complex relationship and soured political camaraderie between Roosevelt and Taft is beautifully played out over the course of the book in quotes and letters. When they angrily part ways it has ramifications for them and the country, eventually leading to Woodrow Wilson's election. Though the book is primarily concerned with the intervening private lives of two politicians, a prominent second narrative emerges as Goodwin links both presidents' fortunes to the rise of ‘muckraking' journalism, specifically the magazine McClure's and its influence over political and social discussion. Women figure largely in both narratives. In addition to journalist Ida Tarbell, both wives, Nellie Taft and Edith Roosevelt appear to have shaped history in their own ways. By shining a light on a little-discussed President and a much-discussed one, Goodwin manages to make history very much alive and relevant. Better yet—the party politics are explicitly modern. Agent: Amanda "Binky" Urban, ICM. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/18/2013
Release date: 11/01/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
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