The Strenuous Life: Theodore Roosevelt and the Making of the American Athlete

The Strenuous Life: Theodore Roosevelt and the Making of the American Athlete

by Ryan Swanson
The Strenuous Life: Theodore Roosevelt and the Making of the American Athlete

The Strenuous Life: Theodore Roosevelt and the Making of the American Athlete

by Ryan Swanson


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Featuring an amazing cast of historical figures, this is the story of how President Theodore Roosevelt led an American sports and fitness revolution.

Give up exercise, Theodore Roosevelt was told by a doctor while attending Harvard, or you might die of a heart attack! This after being plagued by crippling asthma, myopic eyesight, and other ailments as a child. Roosevelt's body was his weakness, the one hill he could never conquer.

But, oh, how he tried!

In vivid detail, The Strenuous Life shows how Roosevelt developed an obsession with athletics, carried it to the nation's highest office, and championed a new age of American athleticism. As President, Roosevelt boxed, practiced Ju-Jitsu, played tennis, conducted harrowing "point-to-point" walks, and invited athletes to the White House. He also made certain that each of his children played sports. Not surprisingly, Roosevelt's personal quest had broad reverberations. During his administration, America saw an unprecedented rise in sports and recreational activities. With Roosevelt in office, baseball's first ever World Series took place, interscholastic sports began, and schools placed a legitimate emphasis on physical education. Additionally, the NCAA formed, and the United States hosted the Olympics for the first time.

Yes, the "Bull Moose," as he'd come to be known, resided squarely in the midst of this upheaval. Filled with amazing anecdotes, a who's who of American political and sports figures from the early 20th century, and Rooseveltian gusto and humor, this book is the play-by-play and color commentary on Roosevelt's "Strenuous Life."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781635766127
Publisher: Diversion Books
Publication date: 08/20/2019
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Ryan Swanson is an Associate Professor of history at the University of New Mexico's Honors College. He earned his Ph.D. in history from Georgetown in 2008 and has been studying and researching Theodore Roosevelt and his role in athletics in the United States for the past ten years. He is the author of When Baseball Went White: Reconstruction, Reconciliation, and Dreams of a National Pastime, which won the 2015 Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) research award, and co-editor of Separate Games: African American Sport Behind the Walls of Segregation, which received a North American Society for Sport History (NASSH) book prize in 2017. Swanson has also published a wide variety of articles and book chapters on the role of athletics in the United States.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Hit the Line Hard 11

2 The Strenuous (Like, Really Strenuous) Life 35

3 Harvard and Its Harvardness 51

4 The Tennis Cabinet 71

5 Creating the Roosevelt Athletic League 93

6 1904 118

7 Ted's Dangerous Football Adventure 141

8 "Walking" 171

9 Baseball's Great Roosevelt Chase 188

10 Legacy 211

11 Wait…Jack Johnson? 229

12 One Last Race 249

Epilogue 277

Acknowledgments 287

Endnotes 289

Index 321

About the Author 328

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