The King and the Cowboy: Theodore Roosevelt and Edward the Seventh: The Secret Partners

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Overview

"In The King and the Cowboy, highly acclaimed historian David Fromkin reveals how two colorful figures - Edward the Seventh of England and Theodore Roosevelt - assumed leadership of the English-speaking world at the beginning of the twentieth century. Working together, secretly, they turned the alliance structure of the civilized world upside down." "As human beings, the two men could hardly have been more different. A lover of fine food, drink, beautiful women, and the pleasure-seeking culture of Paris and Monte Carlo, Edward had previously been ...

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Overview

"In The King and the Cowboy, highly acclaimed historian David Fromkin reveals how two colorful figures - Edward the Seventh of England and Theodore Roosevelt - assumed leadership of the English-speaking world at the beginning of the twentieth century. Working together, secretly, they turned the alliance structure of the civilized world upside down." "As human beings, the two men could hardly have been more different. A lover of fine food, drink, beautiful women, and the pleasure-seeking culture of Paris and Monte Carlo, Edward had previously been regarded as nothing more than a playboy. The public - and Queen Victoria even more so - doubted Edward's ability to rule the British Empire. Yet Edward would surprise the world with his leadership, and his canny understanding of the fragility of the British Empire at the apex of its global power." "Across the Atlantic, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt, the aristocrat from Manhattan, fashioned his own legend, going west to become a cowboy: A deputy sheriff in the Montana badlands who tracked down horse thieves with a rifle in his arms and a Tolstoy novel in his saddlebags, he succeeded to the presidency after President McKinley's 1901 assassination. The nation expected little from Roosevelt: Henry Adams, political gatekeeper and descendant of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, claimed that Roosevelt "acts by the instinct of a school-boy at a second-rate boarding school." Mark Twain called the president insane. Rising above criticism, Roosevelt became one of the nation's most beloved presidents." The King and the Cowboy provides new perspective on both Edward the Seventh and Theodore Roosevelt, revealing how, at the oft-forgottenAlgeciras Conference of 1906, they worked together to dispel the shadow cast over world affairs by Edward's ill-tempered, power-hungry nephew Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. At Algeciras, the United States and major European powers allied with Britain, defeating Germany's bid for European hegemony. In an unlikely turn of events, and with maneuvering behind the scenes by the Americans and the British, the conference served to isolate Germany, and set the groundwork for the forging of the Allied forces. We see the birth of the special relationship between America and England - and of the intimacy between England and France.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this problematic book, Boston University professor Fromkin (A Peace to End All Peace) asserts a personal strategic relationship between president Theodore Roosevelt and King Edward VII during the Algeciras Conference of 1906. The gathering was to mediate the future of Morocco; France, backed by other European powers, argued for protectorate status, while Germany, wanting to end French dominance in Morocco, argued for independence. The bulk of the book recounts the lives of Edward VII, his tempestuous nephew Kaiser Wilhelm II, and of TR prior to Algeciras. In emphasizing a collaboration between Roosevelt and Edward, neither of whom attended the conference, Fromkin seems to discount the roles of lead mediator Henry White, and his capable assistant Samuel R. Gunnmere, in orchestrating the results, which were largely unfavorable to Germany. Fromkin likewise discounts the machinations of the British Foreign Office, which outweighed any influence the monarch might have had. Only one direct communiqué-secret or otherwise-between TR and Edward, dispatched after the conference, is cited, making Fromkin's assertion of a close "secret partnership" a reach. Overall, Fromkin's volume is without a raison d'être. Illus. (Sept. 5)

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Library Journal

Fromkin (international relations, history & law, Boston Univ.; Europe's Last Summer: Who Started the Great War in 1914?) is exceptionally well qualified to tell the story of Theodore Roosevelt and King Edward VII, who both came into positions of power in 1901, albeit with a difference. As Americans tend to confuse their presidents and get absolutely lost among British monarchs, Fromkin first provides readers with the essential Victorian background. In large part because of Victoria's dominance as the longest-serving British monarch, her oldest son, the future Edward VII, became an aging playboy. Yet he was a playboy with a serious side, more open to the world than his mother, ultimately emerging as a "people's king." Fromkin argues that both Roosevelt and Edward were in part "self-invented" characters who ultimately came to share world views. The bad guy in this narrative is the future Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, Edward's nephew. Born with a withered arm, he has long been described as trying to make up for that with other expressions of power. Fromkin brings to light the Morocco Crisis of 1905-06 to show, ironically, that it was a prudish president and a playboy king who joined forces then and effectively established an alliance against Germany. A joy to read, this book will appeal to Roosevelt and royalist readers alike. Highly recommended for general and academic libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ5/15/08.]
—William D. Pederson

The Barnes & Noble Review
Historian Fromkin's focus isn't so much on the personal history between President Teddy Roosevelt and King Edward VII of Britain (indeed, the two men never actually meet in Fromkin's narrative), as it is about the shifting national alliances in the Atlantic world before World War I. Fromkin skillfully describes how Edward, after the 1901 death of his mother, Queen Victoria, moved his country toward an alliance with France and in opposition to Germany, ruled by his nephew Kaiser William II. President Roosevelt and the king both favored this crucial diplomatic shift, which would later lead to the two world wars of the 20th century.

As Fromkin shows, much of the European diplomacy of this era was personal. The Great Powers were mainly monarchies with family interconnections. Fromkin analyzes the kaiser's "passionate dislike of his uncle," King Edward, and traces that animosity to William's strict military upbringing, compared with Edward's playboy lifestyle. Kaiser "William's whole view of Great Power foreign policy over the course of two decades," Fromkin explains, "was colored by his undying hatred" of his royal British uncle.

Fromkin also explores how Roosevelt helped Edward reach his goals: Roosevelt, writes the author, "was Anglophile" and believed the English-speaking peoples were destined to rule the world. When the kaiser attempted to destroy Britain's new diplomatic arrangement with France, Roosevelt sided with Edward. Germany "charged it was being encircled by its enemies," concludes Fromkin, and would unsuccessfully fight two wars to shift this established strategic alliance. --Chuck Leddy

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616802981
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/11/2008
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


David Fromkin, University Professor, is a professor of international relations, of history, and of law at Boston University, as well as the author of The Independence of Nations and A Peace to End All Peace.

Paul Boehmer, who has appeared on Broadway, on television, and in films, narrated an award-winning unabridged recording of Moby Dick.

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