I finished The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt last night. It was one of the absolute best books I’ve ever read in my life. One reason is that it was so well done. The other reason is that TR was such a guy.
From reading a couple Jon Krakauer books I get the impression that Jon has some kind of mild obsession with people who are really academically smart but also tough athletic guys. I too find those types of people interesting because the stereotype and the reality in most cases is that geeks are physically unfit and good in one area to the exclusion of many others. I always find it interesting when people are geniuses or at least competent in a number of disparate areas.
TR was definitely one of those people. He wrote a fuckload of books but he wasn’t just a nerd. One time in a bar a guy was threatening people with a gun and TR punched him in the face (or something like that, I don’t remember). There were also some guys out west who stole a boat and escaped in it and TR chased after the guys and captured them and brought them back to the town, which was a really dangerous thing to do. He could have just said oh well and let the guys go but he was too much of a badass. TR also famously led a group of soldiers called the Rough Riders into the Spanish-American war. The Spanish were shooting at them and guys were dying everywhere but TR didn’t even get down from his goddamn horse. Oh yeah, and he came from a really blue-blooded background but he wasn’t some dainty dandy or something, obviously.
TR also started life as a skinny weak kid who got sick all the time. His dad told him “You have the mind but not the body,” so he said “I’ll make my body,” and he transformed himself into a burly badass by working out all the time.
This book was long as fuck but it only covered TR’s birth to the time McKinley got assassinated. The next book in the three-part series is called Theodore Rex. Definitely have to read that one.