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Clif's Book World

Adventures from reading books captured within short reviews.

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

Mornings on Horseback - David McCullough, Edward Herrmann This book has broad popular appeal because it is about the early family history of Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (Teedie to family members). It is also a story of the life and activities of a rich 19th Century family told in incredible detail. Family members wrote many long letters (most of them saved) and some also kept journals providing the author sufficient documentation to allow this surprisingly intimate account to be written over a hundred years later.

The ailment of asthma is discussed in considerable detail in the book. I found it fascinating that the author had sufficient documentation that he was able to recognize patterns in the timing of asthma attacks suffered by the young Theodore that were not noticed by Theodore himself or his contemporaries. The family appears to have suffered from more than their share of health problems. There are also descriptions of ailments that would probably be diagnosed as mental illness today.

Theodore’s father is portrayed as being a (almost) perfect father and family man. If he had a fault it was that he was so good that the rest of the family was made to feel inadequate for not living up to his standards. In general, the family and Theodore Jr. himself come across as being somewhat strange to the 21st Century reader. But one has to admit that almost any family examined this closely will appear a bit strange in their own ways.