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David McCullough, a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the United States highest civilian award. McCullough was born and raised in Pittsburgh. In his early years he attended Yale University earning a degree in English literature.
His first book was The Johnstown Flood; A story of a neglected damn breaking and killing over 2,000 civilians. He has since written seven more books, which are on the topics of Harry S. Truman, John Adams, and the Brooklyn Bridge. McCullough has also narrated multiple documentaries, as well as Seabiscuit. One of his mini-series was shown on the HBO network awhile back. He was also the host for American Experience for twelve years. Two of McCullough's books, Truman and John Adams, have been grafted into a TV film and mini-series. McCullough's next work, which is about Americans in Paris between the 1830s to the 1930s, is due out in late 2010.
David McCullough is currently married to Rosalee Barnes McCullough, whom he had met at age 17. He is a huge fan of sports, art history, and painting. The couple has five children and over a dozen grandchildren. His own son, David McCullough Jr, is a high school English teacher at Wellesley High School. His daughter, Dorie McCullough Lawson, is an author of two books, Along Came a Stranger and Posterity.
Let's look at his main character in the book "Morning's on Horseback" now.
The book centers on Theodore Roosevelt in his early days. Roosevelt was a politician and conservationist, actively participating in his community. He is better known for being the 26th president of the United States. Roosevelt is also known for his views on wildlife and the care of the Earth. He demonstrated this by setting aside land for national forests, establishing wildlife refuges, developing the farmlands of the American West, and advocating protection of natural resources. Throughout his life and work, Roosevelt remained focused on future generations and on the condition of the earth that they would inherit.
Roosevelt was born into a wealthy family, yet Roosevelt was an unhealthy child suffering from asthma. This caused him to stay at home and study natural history, a subject he immensely enjoyed. Because of his physical weakness he embraced an active life exercising every day. He later attended Harvard, where he boxed and developed an interest in naval affairs. A year out of Harvard, in 1881 he ran for a seat in the state legislature.
His first historical book, The Naval War of 1812, established his reputation as a true historian. After a few years of living in the Badlands, Roosevelt returned to New York City, where he gained fame for fighting police corruption. He was effectively running the US Department of the Navy when the Spanish American War broke out. He then resigned and led a small regiment in Cuba known as the Rough Riders, earning himself a nomination for the Medal of Honor which was received posthumously on his behalf on January 16, 2001. After the war, he returned to New York and was elected Governor; two years later he was nominated for an elected Vice President of the United States.
Now let's look at what the book is actually about. "Mornings on Horseback" by David McCullough traces the early life of Theodore Roosevelt. Throughout the book McCullough breaks down Theodore's love of the outdoors, his health, and his family relations. He also goes into great discusses about Theodore's time at Harvard University, his first marriage, and his introduction into politics. He describes how these experiences helped shaped and influenced Roosevelt's later years, as President of the United States.
Roosevelt's childhood was characterized by his loving and involved family and his bad health problems. He grew up in a prestigious household, being the son of Theodore, Sr. and Mittie Roosevelt. He had one older sister, Bamie, a younger brother, Elliott, and a younger sister, Corinne. The family was drawn together showing great love and affection. This can be seen most likely because of Roosevelt's asthma attacks.
The young version of Roosevelt loved the outdoors seeking the freedom and interest it gave. His whole family spent a year abroad on a Grand Tour of Europe. They also spent some time later in history traveling on the Nile River. Most summers were spent in the country and at Oyster Bay. As a young adult, Roosevelt collected bird and animal specimens, conducting his own taxidermy.
He attended Harvard University in the late 1800s, where he resided off campus in quarters that Bamie chose and furnished for him. His years at Harvard were happy ones all in all, yet they were marred by the death of his father. During his junior and senior years, he bloomed socially, and enjoyed attending parties and other gatherings.
While at Harvard, Theodore met Alice Lee, whom he fell in love with. He later proposed to her and they were married on October 27, 1880. This was several months after Theodore graduated from Harvard. The young couple then moved into his family's home in New York with his sister Mittie. One can see this as a "Happy Arrangement" but it was a short-lived one. On February 12, 1884, his wife Alice gave birth to a baby girl. Tradegy struck within days, on February 14, both Mittie and Alice died in a sudden manner. It was who Mittie succumbed to typhoid fever, and Alice died from Bright's disease. Roosevelt went into a downward spiral but recovered later. Theodore would end up remarrying several years later.
Roosevelt's early life can also be seen caring for children in the book. Many times he demonstrated his love by donating and even creating children's sanctuaries. HE endorsed many museums and even gave money to help create ones in New York. After growing up he began to look into politics.
Roosevelt's early political career was very eventful and helped lead the way for his later positions. He was elected to the New York State Assembly in the early 1880s. There, he began to quickly establish himself as a force to challenge. Oddly, he received quite a bit of attention at his first Republican National Convention, when he supported another nominee instead of the frontrunner, Blaine.
Theodore's life also brought him to the Wild West. This became place that would inspire him and be the forces of his writing in later life. He first went west in 1883, and over the next several years he would spend extended periods of time there. This was probably because of Alice's death. When he went west he also bought several thousand head of cattle, and built a house on a river in the Bad Lands.
One would begin to wonder how Theodore Roosevelt touched, and still manages to touch us today. When you read this book you begin to notice a few things about him. He was a very generous man and loved doing things for others. He endorsed and even contributed to many things including museums, colleges, libraries, and schools. One of his feats he created was the Children's Aid Society which is still around to day. It helps homeless children by giving them a place to stay. There are so many other examples of his generosity, although his biggest feat was becoming the 26th President of the United States.
After reading this book I understood Theodore Roosevelt almost more than I had wished. David McCullough went into such detail throughout the book; it made me lose interest in the book. Sure, I enjoy reading about Teddy's life adventures and his early days, but all the other additional details get old and boring. Also there are so many people who come into play which just jumbles up the story for people. I also found myself many times stopping in the book and going "Who the heck is this guy, or girl." The book could have been almost cut in half if McCullough removed the "bloat." I feel if Mr. McCullough would have kept to Roosevelt and his close family it would have made the book even better.
On that note I would also like to state that the book was however very informative. Although it was a bit boring and long for my taste I discovered a lot from reading it. The book should be read if you haven't read it and it helps to go back and look for characters you don't know. Rereading may even help you learn more facts. All in the entire book was pretty good, even though it was too lengthy for my taste. I will highly suggest it for anyone who wants to read a history book or enjoys David McCullough.