The Happy Hunting-Grounds (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading) [NOOK Book]


Written in the spirit of his father Theodore Roosevelt's wilderness books, The Happy Hunting Grounds is a collection of hunting stories, some of which recount the expeditions Kermit took with his father. Theodore once said of his son, "It is rare for a boy with his refined tastes and his genuine appreciation of literature -- and of so much else -- to be also an exceptionally bold and hardy sportsman." The Happy Hunting Grounds has something for everyone, giving insight into American leaders, nature and ...
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The Happy Hunting-Grounds (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading)

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Written in the spirit of his father Theodore Roosevelt's wilderness books, The Happy Hunting Grounds is a collection of hunting stories, some of which recount the expeditions Kermit took with his father. Theodore once said of his son, "It is rare for a boy with his refined tastes and his genuine appreciation of literature -- and of so much else -- to be also an exceptionally bold and hardy sportsman." The Happy Hunting Grounds has something for everyone, giving insight into American leaders, nature and exploration, and game hunting.
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Meet the Author

Kermit Roosevelt (1889-1943) was born at Oyster Bay and committed suicide in Alaska while on active duty at Fort Richardson. His father, Theodore Roosevelt, took him on his post-presidential adventure travels to Africa and South America and ascribed his son with saving his life. After traveling to China with his brother, Theodore Jr., the two co-wrote Trailing the Great Panda, and after his youngest brother died in World War One, Kermit published Quentin Roosevelt: A Sketch with Letters.
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I am fond of politics, but fonder still of a little big-game hunting."

- Theodore Roosevelt

In April 1909 young Kermit Roosevelt left his studies at Harvard University and set out with his father, Theodore Roosevelt, the twenty-sixth president of the United States, on a year-long adventure into the wilds of eastern Africa. His father, now fifty and blinded in his left eye by a boxing injury, was relying both on Kermit's youth to compensate for his own lost physical ability and on his ability to write and work with the camera to ensure that the right image of their regal adventure made it to press. Preparations for what was to be the largest and most ambitious hunting expedition ever in Kenya began in his childhood home, the White House, a year before, where a practice firing range was set up to assist in honing their marksmanship skills. They enlisted the advice of the well-traveled Frederick Selous and Edward North Buxton and the expertise of Kenya's two most famous hunters, R. J. Cuninghame and William Judd, and engaged Nairobi's premier safari outfitter. The expedition departed amidst great fanfare aboard the German steamship Hamburg from New York harbor and met up with the Admiral from Naples for the journey across the Red Sea and Indian Ocean to Mombassa. While an already impressive undertaking, this was only the beginning of the Roosevelts' travels. Five years later the father-son team set out again to explore the Amazon jungles of Brazil and fifteen years later Kermit embarked on another hunting trip to China with his brother in search of great pandas. Theirs was a time of exploration, a time immortalized by his personal friend, Rudyard Kipling,whose far-flung tales of adventures excited the imaginations of the Roosevelt children in their childhood and inspired Kermit in particular to set out to explore some of the world's most remote territories as a kind of rough rider in his own rite. Like so many big-game hunters and explorers before him, Kermit turned to writing, recounting some of these almost incredible real-life adventures in this eloquent and unvarnished gem, The Happy Hunting-Grounds

Kermit Roosevelt, was born in Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York in 1889, the second child of five children in the Roosevelt family. As his siblings had, he attended public school and later transferred to Groton, the prestigious Connecticut prep school, where his father had also been a student. Although gone from university for a year on safari, he still managed to complete an accelerated degree at Harvard, after which he worked as a manager in the National City Bank in Buenos Aires and took off again on expedition to the Amazon. At the beginning of WWI, he married the daughter of an American ambassador to Spain in Madrid and enlisted as a captain in the British armed forces in Mesopotamia. His military experiences fighting with the British can be found in his War in the Garden of Eden (1919). Having contracted malaria, he was then transferred to the United States army in France until the end of the war, after which he established and ran the lucrative Roosevelt Steamship Lines in the 1920s. It was then in his late twenties and thirties that he began documenting his wildlife adventures in The Happy Hunting-Grounds (1920). The volume opens with his account of the Mombassa hunting expedition in equatorial Africa followed by the tales of later treks taken after his return to his studies, his trips to the American Southwest to hunt mountain sheep, explorations into the Canadian and South Dakotan outback, the Mexican desert, and with his father, almost a decade after Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1902), into the heart of the Amazon in the Brazilian wilderness to trace the uncharted River of Doubt (Rio Roosevelt), a harrowing trip which almost cost his father's life. The narratives, while providing readers with a privileged look into the private life of Teddy Roosevelt as both father and outdoorsman, are also fascinating historical accounts of the sport of big-game hunting and count among some of the first authentic and unapologetic reactions of "civilized" Westerners to wilderness and other cultures at the turn of the century. One can imagine from the wealth of priceless original photos and drawings by Kermit, who was also the photographer and press liaison on many of these expeditions, that his travel experiences must have seemed to him like childhood adventure stories come to life. After completing East of the Sun, West of the Moon (1926), his account of collecting fauna in Eastern Turkistan and Trailing the Great Panda (1929), which appeared after searching for pandas with his brother in the hinterlands of Tibet, Kermit ran into hard times in the Depression, became an alcoholic and resigned before being recomissioned under Churchill and serving the British army in Norway and Egypt. Kermit's wife arranged for him to be stationed in the desolate U.S. army post at Fort Richardson, Alaska, where he assisted in bombing raids against the Japanese in the Aleutian Islands in WWII. But his bouts of depression never left him, and he committed suicide in Alaska in 1943, where he is buried.

Kermit's early literary experiences, transmitted as they were through the powerful figure of his father, indeed had a lasting influence on his imagination and the direction his life would take. An accomplished writer of adventure tales himself, Teddy Roosevelt initiated all of his sons at an early age into a pedagogy of both sports and literature. He proudly acknowledges the result of Kermit's upbringing in a letter he wrote to Ethel on their African journey: "It is rare for a boy with his refined tastes and his genuine appreciation of literature -- and of so much else -- to be also an exceptionally bold and hardy sportsman." For him, adventure literature, whether written by their family friend Rudyard Kipling, Henry Thoreau, Jack London, or published in sportsmen's magazines, as the actual adventures themselves, was an opportunity for boys to learn about nature, but also about becoming men. Roosevelt rejected romantic depictions of blissful nature as he did Mark Twain's protests against hunting, insisting instead on nature's inherent violence and cruelty, which he felt justified man's vigorous uses of power. The late Victorian era was after all the age of Darwinism, which featured an aggressive confidence in the triumph of the fit. For the nineteenth-century American male, on display in public sports like boxing and big-game hunting, fitness implied both physical and moral superiority and was an essential ingredient of, indeed equated with "manliness," an idea of exceptional importance to contemporary males and in particular to the identity of Theodore Roosevelt and his "Rough Riders," (his well-known cavalry unit of a few hundred Dakota and other cowboys, Ivy league football players, New York City cops, and about fifteen Native Americans). Despite recent evolutionary theory and conservationist policy, for the Roosevelts nature was still man's proving ground and the sport of hunting created the space for that contest to be dramatized.

As a result, hunting narratives were tremendously popular at the time with the male reading public of all ages, especially with Kermit's father, who was an avid collector, particularly of those books dealing with the chase of exotic big game; such as John Barrow's Account of Travels into the Interior of Southern Africa (1804) and Samuel and William Daniell's Sketches Representing the Native Tribes, Animals and Scenery of Southern Africa (1820). Big-game hunting had from the start been identified with upper-class hegemony and it was initially within this class amongst the world's most privileged that such tales found their audience. Even by the end of the nineteenth century big game literature still remained "short and simple annals of the rich," despite some democratization of the sport encouraged in part by the evolution of the steam engine, which allowed less wealthy writers as well access to those remote site locations. The genre eventually became conventionalized, typically beginning with some reference to trip planning and the ceremony of cleaning guns. The stories proceeded to mention supply statistics, the astounding size of the hunting party (sometimes including as many as 9,000 individuals), and the exotic meats consumed during the ordeal. The numerous difficulties and dangers encountered along a trail are then emphasized to magnify the hunters' accomplishments, and finally there is the trophy count, synecdochic proof for the taxidermist of the vanquished. Told from a first-person narrative perspective, these tales, while recounting boisterous male camaraderie in wilderness encampments, also often revealed their blunders, misjudgment, setbacks, and overcome fears in order to heighten readers' appreciation for the difficulty of the challenges confronting them. These accounts took what might have been frivolous tales of self-serving wealthy vacationers and enlarged them into valiant inspirations of male braggadocio, courage, and prowess. It is not clear where Kermit first encountered this literary form, but, although he does not include information about their travels prior to their arrival in the African bush in his first narrative, we do know that he made the acquaintance of Frederick Selous, one of the great masters of the genre, who entertained the hunting party for days on board the Admiral from Naples to Mombassa with his hunting tales of Africa, while Kermit's father recounted his frontier stories. If the spoils of the big-game hunter powerfully evoked the conquest and domination of exotic territories, written accounts, such as Kermit's, made his exploits seem still more inspiring and more widely accessible. Even more than the trophy collections, the narratives written by the protagonists fanned public appreciation of the heroic big-game hunter, who, having engaged in Hemmingway-type contests of brute cunning between man and nature, emerged as both the ideal and the definitive type of the empire builder.

During the late Victorian era at the height of imperialism, it was fashionable for European political leaders intent on preserving their remote protectorates to assert their ownership not only by publicizing their presence in foreign lands by being photographed there, but also by adorning their residences back home with animal souvenirs collected in these lands. The hunting exploits of Roosevelt's contemporary political leaders, such as those of Germany's Wilhelm II and the Prince of Wales, were already legendary in Europe. Such extravagant expeditions, the likes of which have rarely been seen since, yielded not only notoriety and bragging rights to these male leaders, but also served to bring these northern societies into contact with formerly unknown exotic cultures and ecosystems. Some of the rare wildlife bagged on these ventures, the lions, hippopotami, giraffes, ostriches, and wapiti, was given away as diplomatic gifts to other leaders, either for their walls or for their small resident menageries. Other animals were sold to the entertainment sector, to public zoos and circuses. The remaining specimens became the property of science academies and museums of natural history, which typically financed the expeditions and used them to expand their collections. Kermit's expedition in chapter one to Africa, in chapter three to the Mexican desert, and his trek to collect moose, caribou, and beaver in Canada in chapter four, were all conducted under the auspices and support of the National Museum of Natural History, a branch of the Smithsonian Institute. The African safari was further underwritten by Scribner's Magazine, who promised Kermit's father an additional $50,000 for twelve articles on the journey. Similarly, his hunting expedition to China was supported by the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History and perhaps not surprisingly he was later made president of the Audubon Society, a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History, and vice president of the Bronx Zoological Society. Naturally, for the investment, these organizations expected to be rewarded with significant spoils for their animal and plant collections. From the one scandalous African safari alone, the Roosevelts brought back 14,000 specimens, among them countless elephants, rhinos, hippopotami, zebras, giraffes, buffalo, and lions. While clearly embarked on for scientific and political profit, the public accounts of national presidents on hunting holiday at the turn of the century typically emphasized the sheer sport of these frivolous expeditions.

While there is no doubt that these adventures had educational value for zoologists and anthropologists, the real reward of these costly enterprises was the adornment of political image, a kind of triumph over the animal and tribal kingdoms, an aggressive vitality, and strength of leadership. The prospect of political gain was behind the Roosevelt adventures as well. Throughout his presidency, Kermit's father, like no other before him, worked tirelessly to put the nation's natural resources and wilderness protection on the American political agenda. Despite the influential power of lobbyists from burgeoning industries, his campaign to introduce the country's first conservation legislation and add 150 million acres to the national forest and park system was successful and with the Reclamation Act of 1902, he reclaimed countless acres of eroded land and reestablished it as game reserves. His success rested in no small part on popularizing the notion of taming wilderness, in bringing remote wilds into the public's experience, in part through wilderness-park vacations and through the literary discourse of wilderness writing. Ultimately, these American narratives of imperialist adventures into nature allowed average citizens to engage, at least by proxy, in a kind of reenactment of conquest that had previously been confined to the privileged classes. The connection between triumphing over a dangerous animal and subduing native cultures was direct and obvious, and the association of the big-game hunter with the march of empire was literal as well as metonymic.

Jennifer Ham is a writer and scholar who lives in Wisconsin.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2014

    Uunn nnhhhn hu jnnhunu uunun nuuu iu bhnh j uhmunn n un j nj nj nnunnuh ..nnujuu h hhh n nh .n..hinhn u uj hhhnhnnjujuj n.h nuh nh

    Nnynnu nhnun njnn nn huu. Nmnhu h. njun unu n j. Nuuh nhuun u uy nhnn jj mnin h. nh jhmjiu nNununn yhnhnh u unn nhnn u h h nu minh un njkh.jim.. uhu hn n. Nnnu nh hunj H njhmnni un . h ihhnjun I h u n. hhh unhunjuunhunu h.mnhuunnu. u n hun nj hnynnunhbnnhnnnuuuu n n uuu n n hi hn jnhnjjuuu ni u nhnujunnnh . n. J.jj uiij k nn u nuujh nn nnuu u mnnunum nnmkjnnn un .njuu jhu u nnnn j junjn. n h u unn. nhu nhnhhh. Uu nhu u.h hun. Jn nj.hnNhhunjh. Ny uun uh. Nguyen. UNn jUu uun j huhu uh hnkh. Unnjuk. hu u h. ju.hnn u nuj hn.n h JnNnnhjnhu un . Jun N un nmu. nu munun nn juununjjn.hjuhnnn h uu. U N uk j j.n j hu h .j.h Nhu njn.j u . Nu jujnhmhuunn . un hnun njjh ukuhhu nu u. h nnhjnu muuhhh.nnnu huuu .juh nun juii u n Nu unu.u. unu h n hnmUuunh jjnuUhn un u nuhu nu.hNu hnn nuhn Unh jju hH. nhn ujh. Hnnnunu H uu unjkunnuhju uun nnun.h. N y h u n j j hh. Yj. Unn

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2013



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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2013


    It drops prim and sees a wolf. Scardly she retriets.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2013


    *he walks around quitly looking for prey*

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2013


    Bite the neck of the elk on the life giving artery and it started to bleed

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2013


    The elk soon dies and Shattered wags her tail.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2012


    Comes here and finds a moose. Ooh this is gonna be good food. He pounced it and claws the neck. Its dead now. He takes it back to merlin.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2012

    A large boulder

    A large boulder hosts several adders, not prey, but potential threats to Goldenclan. It would be great if someone could finish them off...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2012

    A grassy clearing

    A grassy clearing in the midst of the forest gives food to a family of hares. Theyre to carefree to notice that there are hungry cats in the area...

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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