The Best Books About Theodore Roosevelt

By Clay Risen

The Books I Picked & Why

Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt

By David McCullough

Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt

Why this book?

So much of the story of Theodore Roosevelt – the story told about him, and the story he told the world – is rooted in his experience as a sickly child of an all-powerful yet kind aristocratic father. McCullough dives into all of this, piecing myth apart from reality while using Roosevelt’s early years in upper-crust New York to paint a picture of America as it moved from the Civil War era to the Gilded Age.


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The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

By Edmund Morris

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

Why this book?

A landmark of political biography, Morris’s trilogy is epic in scope and length. Among its many strengths is Morris’s ability to match wits with Roosevelt, clearly and compellingly explaining his forays into everything from ranching to antitrust policy to international diplomacy. There is a touch of hagiography here, though not wholly unwarranted.


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Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life

By Kathleen Dalton

Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life

Why this book?

This is easily the best single-volume account of Roosevelt’s life. Dalton writes with an understated verve and an attention to detail that will pull along even biography-averse readers. While Morris’s trilogy is still the definitive account, Dalton’s is more persuasive, as she is more willing to cast a skeptical eye on Roosevelt’s excesses and shortcomings.


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The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey

By Candice Millard

The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey

Why this book?

Millard’s book is a thrilling account of Roosevelt last big adventure, an attempt to chart Brazil’s Rio da Dúvida, or “River of Doubt,” later renamed Roosevelt River. Millard is a gifted narrator, who uses the story of a former president risking his life in the jungle to explore the motivations that drove this very complicated man through his entire life.


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The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America

By Douglas Brinkley

The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America

Why this book?

Here, Brinkley manages to write both a conventional biography of Roosevelt and a study of his impact on America’s natural heritage. In doing so he casts light on stories and evidence that most other biographers have overlooked. And it doesn’t help that Brinkley’s angle shows Roosevelt at his most exciting, climbing the Alps, trekking through the West, and exploring the Amazon.


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