Theodore Roosevelt was a phenomenon. Reading this absorbing account of his eight years in the White House, I’m reminded of the days when it was not exceptional for half a dozen qualified men to fight it out for the presidency. Consider the line-up in 1968. On the right, Richard Nixon, who was to win, and three governors of major states – John Rockefeller of New York, George Romney of Michigan and Ronald Reagan of California; and among the Democrats, Vice-President Hubert Humphrey and three senior senators: Robert Kennedy, Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern. Not once in the past thirty years have the two major parties offered American voters such a choice – nowadays, the field is all too often overcrowded with political dwarfs struggling for ‘name recognition’.
When Theodore Roosevelt came to office in 1901, he was already a legend – and only forty-three, younger than any American president before or since. After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard he became a rancher. He wrote good histories,