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Theodore Roosevelt: Champion of the American Spirit


People often associate Theodore Roosevelt with the Rough Riders, the volunteer cavalry regiment that he led to vic-tory in 1898 in the Spanish-American War. But the list of accomplishments of the 26th president of the United States is long: besides holding office as vice president, governor of New York State, and police commissioner of New York City, he was a writer, cowboy, historian, conservationist, and soldier. Above all, he ushered the United States into the ranks of the world’s great powers. His incredible ...

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People often associate Theodore Roosevelt with the Rough Riders, the volunteer cavalry regiment that he led to vic-tory in 1898 in the Spanish-American War. But the list of accomplishments of the 26th president of the United States is long: besides holding office as vice president, governor of New York State, and police commissioner of New York City, he was a writer, cowboy, historian, conservationist, and soldier. Above all, he ushered the United States into the ranks of the world’s great powers. His incredible exuberance and strength continue to inspire, and his progressive views on government and corporate corruption, labor laws, and feminism are still relevant today.

Award-winning author Betsy Harvey Kraft has written a sweeping biography that draws from diverse sources, including Theodore Roosevelt’s journals, correspondence, and autobiography, as well as the memoirs of family and friends and newspaper reports of the time. This excellent book also features archival photographs, political cartoons, and drawings by Roosevelt himself. Endnotes, bibliography, index.

A biography of the energetic New Yorker who became the twenty-sixth president of the United States and who once exclaimed "No one has ever enjoyed life more than I have."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"colorful biography...carefully chosen details...reproductions of Roosevelt's illustrated letters are particularly captivating...a lively portrait of an American hero." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY Publishers Weekly

"an excellent job of portraying...Roosevelt's larger-than-life persona...captured in both the text and...many period photographs...highly recommended" VOYA (VOICE OF YOUTH ADVOCATES) VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

"Kraft 'talks history' to her readers...strong narrative...paint[s] a picture of both character and temperament...adriotly includes historical background" THE HORN BOOK Horn Book

"handsome biography...Kraft has a knack for beginning chapters with a storyteller's flair, drawing readers in...vivid portrayal...informative... entertaining" BOOKLIST Booklist, ALA

"Richly illustrated . . . this handsome book provides a fascinating glimpse into . . . a major figure in American history."—School Library Journal, starred.
School Library Journal, Starred

Publishers Weekly
Kraft (Mother Jones; Sensational Trials of the Twentieth Century) marshals Theodore Roosevelt's ebullience and forceful character to animate this colorful biography. The narrative traces how the sickly boy born in 1858 to New York aristocrats channeled his considerable will and intellect to become an athlete, fighter, naturalist, conservationist, cowboy, author and, of course, the 26th president of the United States. Carefully chosen details illustrate Roosevelt's larger-than-life enthusiasms (one senator recalls a hiking trip: "When we came to the stream, instead of deviating and seeking a bridge, Roosevelt strode right through the water, which was well up to the tops of his shoes, with never a break in his flow of speech, and just as if this was the most natural thing in the world to do"). Readers will enjoy Kraft's descriptions of Roosevelt's role as the adoring father of six famously rambunctious children, and they will admire his battles against corruption and his efforts to preserve wilderness. The author effectively employs quotes from Roosevelt and his contemporaries (including some from enemies); reproductions of Roosevelt's illustrated letters are particularly captivating. The institutional design does little to enliven the subject, several issues lack sufficient context (e.g., Roosevelt's role in a military controversy in Brownsville, Tex., that alienated black Americans) and some episodes seem superficially dismissed (e.g., during a grueling post-presidential expedition through Brazilian jungles, Roosevelt lost "much of the boyish spirit that had propelled him all his life"). These drawbacks aside, the biography delivers a lively portrait of an American hero. Illustrated with period photos, political cartoons and Roosevelt's own drawings. Ages 10-14. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Kraft ends this book saying that Roosevelt was not swept into office because of war or a financial depression. Instead, he created his own momentum. The book itself has that momentum. Roosevelt's determination and indomitable energy and spirit fairly jumps from every page. This is a well-told story of a man who is unlike any other that I know of in politics. His concern for the poor, the immigrants, the workers, the conservation of our lands, the curtailing of business monopolies, and the destruction of dirty politics energized him throughout his life. He was a man who wanted to leave a positive mark on his world and he very much did. Kraft did a meticulous research job and her writing is so engaging, I literally could not put the book down. Perhaps the greatest testament to her writing is that I finally found a Republican I could get behind! 2003, Clarion, Ages 10 to 14.
— Joan Kindig, Ph.D.
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt is best known as president of the United States, a role he inherited when President William McKinley was assassinated. Only sixty-one years old when he died in 1919, Roosevelt lived with unmatched energy and enthusiasm. Kraft, author of Mother Jones: One Woman's Fight for Labor (Clarion, 1995), does an excellent job of portraying Roosevelt's political career, his heroic leadership of the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War, and his vigorous pursuit of outdoor activities. Roosevelt's larger-than-life persona is captured in both the text and in the many period photographs liberally used throughout the book. With his trademark wire-rim glasses and bushy mustache, he was as comfortable standing on a platform delivering a speech as he was wielding a gun over a big game animal or perched atop a Yosemite cliff. The well-researched, intimate details, which are often the difference between a mediocre biography and one that succeeds, show another side of the tough outdoorsman with enormous political clout. Roosevelt was crushed when his beloved first wife died two days after the birth of their daughter, but he married again and had five more children who made the White House years quite lively with their boisterous antics. Roosevelt was devoted to his children, often writing them letters punctuated with little sketches when he was away. Several photographs of these charming letters are pictured in the book. Kraft includes a list of books, videos, and Web sites for further investigation, places to visit, and a chronology of important events. This title is highly recommended for biography collections in school and public libraries. Index. Illus. Photos. Biblio. SourceNotes. Further Reading. Chronology. VOYA Codes: 5Q 3P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2003, Clarion, 180p,
— Kim Zach
From The Critics
Theodore Roosevelt was born into a wealthy New York family. As a child, he spent much time outside keeping detailed notes on nature. He also was an avid reader. As an adult, he was successful in establishing national parks to protect America's natural resources. An honest man who loved a good fight, Roosevelt put together a volunteer "Rough Riders" unit to fight the Spanish in Cuba. He also worked hard to eliminate corruption in government and break up corporate monopolies in U.S. business. Roosevelt was a problem-solver; he backed Panama in gaining independence from Columbia, to enable the building of the Panama Canal. His charismatic personality helped negotiate peace between warring nations, industry, and their labor force and strengthen the U.S. Navy. Readers will appreciate the author's storytelling approach. Kraft has written a book that will keep readers turning the pages to follow Roosevelt's adventures. This would be a good choice for an overview of Roosevelt's life, but it lacks the depth to use for research papers. 2003, Clarion Books, 163 pp. Ages young adult. Reviewer: Ruth Prescott
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Roosevelt emerges from the pages of this biography as an exuberant, energetic, larger-than-life personality, making it easy to understand his daughter Alice's description of her father as a man who "always had to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral." Kraft captures his complex character, which encompassed many seemingly contradictory aspects. Although he came from an aristocratic, wealthy background, Roosevelt was determined to make big business abandon corrupt practices and obey the law. He was an avid big-game hunter as well as an ardent conservationist. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for his diplomatic efforts during the Russo-Japanese War, but held a firm belief in U.S. military preparedness. A popular president, a champion of women's and working-class rights, and a devoted husband and father, Roosevelt claimed near the end of his life that "No man has had a happier life than I have led." Richly illustrated with period photos, political cartoons, engravings, and many of Roosevelt's own drawings from letters to his children, this handsome book provides a fascinating glimpse into the public and private life and the wide range of accomplishments of a major figure in American history.-Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618142644
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 6/23/2003
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 192
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 980L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Betsy Harvey Kraft is a former editor of children's books and the author of several nonfiction books for young readers, including Mother Jones: One Woman's Fight for Labor. She lives in Washington, D.C.

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