June 07, 2014

Roosevelt's high horse

Roosevelt loved horse-jumping, of course. Even more, he loved pictures of himself. So when he got a picture of himself on a horse jumping over a fence he gave AUTOGRAPHED COPIES TO MEMBERS OF HIS CABINET. I hope these copies still exist as treasured family heirlooms.

I have picked up where I left off almost a year ago, as Roosevelt is settling in to his role of president in 1902. The main issues he has to deal with in the term he inherited from McKinley are trusts, monopolies, a coal strike, and its consequences for labor nationwide. Although these are not the mythical tasks Roosevelt dreams himself to be born for, he's uniquely suited for them — as someone who grew up among the upper class in New York and Harvard but has also ranched in North Dakota and fought on the front lines (of a war that he started), he can identify with both the industrialists and the workers, and both sides trust him to understand their position, if not to back it.

Edmund Morris's chapters are mercifully short - averaging around 10 pages - during this time, as if he knew that he'd have to break railroad merger negotiations into digestible bits. God bless Edmund Morris.

And if I may; thanks so much to those of you who have contacted me via the comments, twitter, or email over the past year to ask if At Times Dull was going to be Forever Dull. I did not intend to neglect it for so long. I've been much busier with other writing projects for the past year, which is a great thing, but unfortunately ATD is the easiest thing to put off. I'm hoping to balance them more successfully going forward. After all, I made it to the 20th century! I must make it to the 21st!


  1. Thrilled to see you back at it. I know how it goes. I have been (mostly not) working on a memoir for years. But you got me reading presidential biographies for my memoir. My next one is JFK. I haven't settled on which one yet. Best wishes from one of your biggest fans.

  2. Yay! You're back! That makes my day so happy!

  3. I've read a lot of presidential biographies, and the Morris series on Roosevelt is my favorite. Could be the author, could be the subject. Probably some magical synergy between the two.