I have my reasons for being interested in reading up on Teddy Roosevelt. First of all, I wanted to know about his attitudes toward conservation, secondly I wanted to understand the driving force behind his level of success, and lastly I wanted to know about the times he lived in and how they could correlate to today.
Of all the biographies out there of Teddy Roosevelt, I chose to read Edmund Morris' version. It came highly recommended as his follow up to the Pulitzer Prize winning The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. I chose this book because although I love biographies of the great men and women who influenced our civilization, I don't really care about childhood experiences. Although we can control our adulthood and the decisions we make, the quality of our upbringing is really a matter of chance. People today often wrongly devalue the nurture component of successful rearing of children, I am even less impressed by those given opportunities not given to others. The notion of those who are "born on third base but think they hit a triple" exasperates me, and isn't a mark of excellence for me. There are those exceptions though, and the great Teddy Roosevelt transcends every mark.
Roosevelt held the best interests of the future generations, which is something unfortunately our leaders have sorely forgotten. Although he was in the pro capitalist party of the early 20th century Republicans, he was not as out of touch as those in the GOP today who's ideology has been surpassed by reality and relegated to electoral irrelevance. He was a political genius, who leveraged the interests of all parties involved, and often bucked the rationalities of the conservative leaders in his own party to do what was right for the nation. He took on big business, realized the dangers of monopoly, while rallying Wall Street to his support. He balanced many interests, while outplaying his opponents every step of the way. He was hard charging, dedicated, and effective. He was given an opportunity, and ran with it. He became larger than life, although he was a dedicated family man and avid outdoor enthusiast, and will be forever known as the best example of leadership in a string of presidents who left office without any great achievements or impact.
There are very few presidents like Teddy Roosevelt. It's often said the National Park System is the best idea the United States has created. Conserving and preserving land for the public, to be held in trust for all people, is his greatest gift to us. And although there are politicians who think the federal government should not own property, luckily the American people have retained Roosevelt's sage advice and pushed towards his policies of protecting what we have now and forever.
Teddy Roosevelt for me has been an inspiration. He respected men who lived an adverse life, who overcame obstacles and charged headlong into the fray. I've definitely improved the breadth of my reading, my attitude towards work, and the use of my time. I will never compare to this man, but, I can take what I have learned from his life and try to apply what I can.