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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Family reveals so very much, 2 Sep 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Mornings on Horseback (Paperback)
I read this book after reading the Pulitzer-Prize winning "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt", another excellent biography of TR. When I started "Mornings On Horseback", I felt that I was armed with more information about this President than I had going into "Rise"; however, once I completed "Mornings", I realized that I was armed with an entirely different type of knowledge. David McCullough gets us into the Roosevelt house and makes the people in TR's life come alive. "Nurture" is a vital componant of anyone's development and in this book, one sees just how family shapes a great personality such as his. To truly understand TR from a historical perspective one must examine his roots. This book is a joy to read, very informative and well-paced.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mornings on Horseback debunks Roosevelt myths, 4 Jun 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Mornings on Horseback (Paperback)
David McCullough is a master at revealing history as it truly took place, and people as they truly were. His account of Teddy Roosevelt's remarkably innocent childhood debunks the myths that have long clouded Roosevelt biographies. While TR would grow to be a fearless Rough Rider and a President who took on corporate monopolies, he began his life as a pathetically weak, asthmatic boy clammering for his parents' attention. It was through the love, rather demanding at times, of Roosevelt's wonderfully demonstrative father that Teddy grew into his tough adult self.

Mornings on Horseback challenges the notion that yesterday was more idyllic than today. Though Roosevelt had a close family, they did not remain unscathed by the Civil War, nor by illnesses that have since fled the earth. Throughout it all, it was their sense of family, as well as their great self-motivation to improve the lot of the world, that pushed them beyond misfortune.

McCullough is a patient historian. He does not abide by myths, or falsehoods. His prying beneath the historical record is done with sound tools of investigation. Throughout it all, his voice is so entrancing, and his capture of detail so intricate, that we come to feel that we truly understand his subjects. When they are tossed about by fate, we regard their misfortunes with empathy. McCullough knows how to make history as readable as fiction.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Character Study, Not A Biography, 29 Feb 2004
By 
James Gallen (St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mornings on Horseback (Hardcover)
“Mornings on Horseback” is more of a character study than a biography. Stretching from TR’s birth until his marriage to Edith Carow, McCullough’s purpose is to cover the factors which molded TR into the man that he became. The book ends when, McCullough believes, TR’s character was formed.
What I found most interesting about this book is not only what is featured, but what is not. McCullough obviously believe that family played a major role I shaping TR’s character. The first, and probably greatest influence on TR was his father, Theodore Roosevelt, Sr., Greatheart to his family. It was his father who was his role model and whose charitable works planted the seeds of TR’s social conscience. It was Greatheart who opened TR’s mind to foreign cultures during the trips across Europe and on the Nile. It was his father’s observation that TR had the mind but not the body which started TR on a body building program to give him a body to match his mind.
Miscast as a business man, Greatheart used his inheritance in philantrophic work, supporting the Children’s Aid Society, the Orthopedic Hospital, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the American Museum of Natural History, living his belief that social status came with accompanying duties. Out of deference to his Georgia born wife, Mittie, Greatheart hired a substitute to take his place in the Union Army, while he initiated programs to help the soldier and his dependents, meeting Abraham Lincoln in the process. This action is often cited as having created a debt which TR sought to pay during the Spanish American War.
Greatheart’s death at age 46 was one of the greatest tragedies of TR’s life. During his first day in the White House, TR felt as if his father’s hand was on his shoulder.
Other significant familial influences on the youthful TR were his uncles, James and Irvine Bulloch. Exiled to England after their service in the Confederate States Navy, James, particularly, played a major role in developing TR’s interest in naval affairs.
McCullough obviously believes that TR’s youthful asthma was a major factor in molding his character. The reader receives a medical education on asthma, including the theory that its attacks are often anxiety driven. McCullough then explains how he believes that TR’s asthma attacks reflect what was happening in his life at the times of the attacks.
Alice Lee, TR’s first wife, completely captured TR’s love before her passing drove him into cattle country exile.
The critical high points in TR’s early political career are well reported. The incidents of his entry into politics, an unseemly profession for most of his class, the challenges and disappointments of his legislative career all lead up to the 1884 Republican National convention, after which TR, frustrated in his efforts to deny nomination to James G. Blaine, chose to stick with party rather than to bolt to the Reformers.
Some of the topics which fill so many pages in standard biographies are deamed to be less important to the theme of this book. TR’s early interest in animals and natural history barely attracts McCullough’s attention, probably because after its abandonment, it had little lasting effect on his character. While attention is devoted to his time in the Bad Lands and his hunting trips, they do not receive the attention that they do in standard biographies.
“Mornings On Horseback” is written in a style which will always hold the readers’ interest. Unlike some books dealing with a subject’s youth, this one focuses on TR’s experiences which had lifelong impacts.
I do not recommend “Mornings On Horseback” as an introduction to TR. I do recommend it as a character study for those who are already familiar with the facts of TR’s life and who desire to develop a deeper understanding of his character. For this it is excellent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent "making of a great man" bio., 18 May 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Mornings on Horseback (Paperback)
Mr. McCullough has done it again. This time, he shows Theodore Roosevelt from a child to a young man, and reveals the influence of his family. Many books try to explain how a person becomes "great," but this one succeeds. Roosevelt came from an unusual family and its influence on him is illustrated. Excellent background on an extraordinary president.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Perspective On A Legendary Family, 3 April 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Mornings on Horseback (Paperback)
This book offers something new to the history of Theodore Roosevelt:
The reader gets a close look at the environment and family life that shaped and molded this great leader.
After reading this book you will have new insight into seeing why T.R. acted as he did.
The author mentions in the preface that he was told by a relative of T.R. that the one thing all the other bigraphies and books on the Roosevelts lacked was seeing how the family was part of a clan - that this was indeed a huge influence on T.R. This book will show you what this means.
Mr. McCullough is a brilliant and entertaining author. This book will also be enjoyable for those of you who enjoyed him in the Presidents series on PBS.
Highly Recommended
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5.0 out of 5 stars A well-written and unusual biography of a fascinating man, 11 Aug 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Mornings on Horseback (Paperback)
David McCullough is a great historical writer. Here, as in Truman and The Great Bridge, he makes people and events live again. Yet his personable style is always supported by facts and research -- one never thinks "how could he know that?" This book focuses on TR's early life, to about the age of thirty. Surprisingly, there is a lot to be learned about Roosevelt before he became a nationally known figure -- especially his family background and his medical troubles. I really enjoyed the book and am busy reading McCullough's others.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bully!, 28 Aug 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Mornings on Horseback (Paperback)
This book was dee-lightful! I recommend it to anyone who has an interest in American history, biographies of our presidents. It was easy to read and wonderful. The inclusion of so many paragraphs from personal letters was particularly fun because Teddy does seem like fun. I didn't know much about him before but now I am going to check out other biographies recommended by the author. I am also going to read Truman (by the author) and as many of his other books as I can! (If they continue to be as good as this one!)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bully!, 29 Oct 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Mornings on Horseback (Paperback)
This is the best biography I ever read. It was a fascinating page-turner. I always thought well of TR, but now I feel like I understand who he was and how he became that person, and I like and admire him even more. For anyone interested in the Roosevelts, TR, or just a history-lover, this is the book for you. I can't say enough good things about it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling inside story of the great Roosevely clan., 28 Jan 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Mornings on Horseback (Paperback)
McCollough gets inside the upbringing of Teddy and his siblings, and explores the relationships between the siblings . Great build-up of pacing which serves to punctuate the incredible life-force of Theodore. I thought it would be dry, but the use of family letters throughout kept it personal and engaging. A terrific read--I feel enriched.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Finest biography of TR's early years available, 30 Jan 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Mornings on Horseback (Paperback)
I cannot moderate my appreciation of this book. Well crafted and expertly researched, it is both history and literature. Reading McCullough, once gets the impression that he knew his subjects intimately -- that he spent long hours with TR and his family to learn their story. After reading this book, you will, too.
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Mornings on Horseback
Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough (Paperback - 1 Jan 1986)
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