Sunday, August 02, 2009

Teddy Roosevelt and The River of Doubt

I have always been fascinated by Teddy Roosevelt. On the one hand, his abrasive heavy-handedness towards Latin America has always bothered me. But perhaps that is something that comes in hindsight. However, this same stubborn ruggedness has also made Roosevelt into a kind of outdoors icon in American history. He probably would be considered a pretty strong environmentalist were he to be alive today. I also think his embrace of science would have made him a partisan of evolution and also someone who would readily embrace the idea that humans most certainly do have determinative (and harmful) longterm effects on the environment. Of course, we can never know for sure, but I am convinced that Teddy Roosevelt would be on Al Gore's side in the global climate change debates of today.

I am currently reading a wonderful book about Roosevelt's expedition down the Brazilian Amazon's "River of Doubt." The book, titled The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey and written by Candice Millard, is very engaging and illustrative. It reads like an adventure novel and paints quite an admirable picture of Roosevelt, who was ahead of his times in many, many ways. Even though he was a President from the Republican Party, his enigmatic character caused him to shun both the Republicans and the Democrats in 1913 for a run at the Presidency for a third term under a third party banner, the Progressive Party. So, I don't think he can be ideologically pigeonholed that easily. I kinda like the dude. But, regardless, he lived an unusually fascinating life for a U.S. President. And if anyone has an interest in the history of the Brazilian Amazon, I highly recommend this book.

1 comment:

mominem said...

Although somewhat later the only other person I can know of who had a similar breadth of accomplishment is Winston Churchill. TR won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 while President.

Churchill won a Nobel prize for Literature, almost as a consolation prize.