02 September 2013

The Wilderness Warrior by Douglas Brinkley

The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America turned out to be more of an undertaking than I had originally thought; at over 800 pages (not counting notes), it took quite a while to get through, especially since I interrupted it with other books every 200 pages or so.

Even so, it was a joy to read.  Theodore Roosevelt is a fascinating, entertaining character in our nation's history.  What The Wilderness Warrior did so well was to focus on him through the lens of his incredible contribution to our nation's Forests, Monuments, Wildlife Refuges, and Parks.  There were so many, I have no shame in saying I lost count early on, and had a hard time keeping track of more than a few.

The Wilderness Warrior started off with Roosevelt's early life, following his childhood fascination with wildlife and the pioneering work of Charles Darwin; the influence of the wilderness literature of the time; and his uncle, Robert Roosevelt, a notable conservationist himself.  It tracked him through his college years, adventures in the Dakotas, the Cuban campaign, all the way through the Presidency.  Brinkley did an excellent job presenting the puzzle that was our 26th President: the man who loved hunting and yet exalted the bison; who was determined to have a bear for his collection, and yet chose not to shoot one that had been harried and cornered by dogs in what he considered an un-sporting manner; who believed strongly in preserving nature and yet was whole-heartedly behind radically altering the landscape of the American southwest to make it more suitable for human habitation.

More than anything, reading The Wilderness Warrior made me more aware of the natural treasures of the U.S.  From Crater Lake to Yosemite to Devil's Tower and beyond, our nation is filled with beauty, and Brinkley's book has kindled in me a desire to see more of it.  Hopefully I will get to.

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Books: Working on The Cuckoo's Calling.  It promises to be a swifter read than The Wilderness Warrior.  After that, Dan Brown's Inferno.

Bottles: None lately.

Writing: Sigh...no.  But the mysteries and thrillers I have been reading have been great research and inspiration.

Guitar: Also no; been out of town.