Reading Theodore Roosevelt: A Book List for His Birthday

A list of books to revisit the 161st anniversary of T.R.'s birth.

October 26, 2019 8:56 am
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt in 1910.
Library of Congress

October 27 marks the 161st anniversary of Theodore Roosevelt’s birth. As presidents go, he lived one of the most fascinating lives imaginable, from his time in office to his work as Police Commissioner of New York. His work leading the “Rough Riders” and his third-party presidential run under the auspices of the Bull Moose Party are also fascinating and still make for gripping history today. And his views on conservation seem more and more relevant by the day. 

It’s no surprise, then, that Roosevelt has been the subject of a number of compelling, acclaimed books over the years. Books on his life have won major awards and have held readers enthralled. In honor of Roosevelt’s birthday, here’s a look at six books that offer interesting perspectives on this most larger-than-life of Presidents. 

The Crowded Hour: Theodore Roosevelt, the Rough Riders, and the Dawn of the American Century by Clay Risen

Since its release earlier this year, Clay Risen’s new book The Crowded Hour has earned a host of positive reviews in its depiction of the all-volunteer regiment Roosevelt led in the Spanish-American war. It’s a work that both tells a thrilling story in and of itself and explores the ramifications of those events years and decades down the line — a welcome way of exploring one element of Roosevelt’s historical legacy.

Edmund Morris book cover

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

The first part of Edmund Morris’s acclaimed biographical trilogy covering the life of Theodore Roosevelt focuses on the years before he became President — taking TR from 1858 to 1901. It’s also one of the most acclaimed biographies in recent memory, winning both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award

Theodore Roosevelt: A Biography by Henry F. Pringle

While we’re on the subject of award-winning biographies of Theodore Roosevelt, we shouldn’t overlook Henry F. Pringle’s work on the man’s life, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1932. For those seeking a concise single-volume look at Roosevelt’s sprawling life and the world in which he resided…well, there’s a reason this book is still read 90 years after its publication. 

Theodore Roosevelt book cover

The Rough Riders and An Autobiography by Theodore Roosevelt

If you’re looking for insights into Theodore Roosevelt’s life, you can’t go wrong with the man’s own words. This omnibus edition collects two books in which he looked back over his life: The Rough Riders tells the story of his involvement in the Spanish-American War and was published before his presidency, and An Autobiography finds him looking back on his life after his time in office. 

When Trumpets Call: Theodore Roosevelt After the White House by Patricia O’Toole

Theodore Roosevelt had more of the most fascinating post-presidential lives of them all — in part because he pondered throwing his hat back into the ring for another run for office. Patricia O’Toole’s acclaimed biography focuses on this element of his life, exploring the fascinating aspects of the final years of his life. 

The Alienist by Caleb Carr

It’s entirely possible that you’d prefer your literary takes on Theodore Roosevelt in fictionalized form. Thankfully, Caleb Carr’s thrilling novel The Alienist exists to scratch that metaphorical itch. Set during Roosevelt’s tenure as New York City’s Police Commissioner, this novel tracks the unorthodox hunt for a killer, and includes a substantial role for Roosevelt himself.

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