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Winner of the 1982 National Book Award for Biography, Mornings on Horseback is the brilliant biography of the young Theodore Roosevelt. Hailed as a masterpiece by Newsday, it is the story of a remarkable little boy - seriously handicapped by recurrent and nearly fatal attacks of asthma - and his struggle to manhood.
His father - the first Theodore Roosevelt, "Greatheart" - is a figure of unbounded energy, enormously attractive and selfless, a god in the eyes of his small, frail namesake. His mother - Mittie Bulloch Roosevelt - is a Southerner and celebrated beauty.
Mornings on Horseback spans 17 years, from 1869, when little "Teedie" is 10, to 1886, when he returns from the West a "real life cowboy" to pick up the pieces of a shattered life and begin anew, a grown man, whole in body and spirit.
This is a tale about family love and family loyalty... about courtship, childbirth and death, fathers and sons... about gutter politics and the tumultuous Republican Convention of 1884... about grizzly bears, grief and courage, and "blessed" mornings on horseback at Oyster Bay or beneath the limitless skies of the Badlands.
National Book Award , Biography, 1982
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Joe on 04-04-14
This book is a scalpel
This is my second David McCullough book and they just get better and better. Here we have a story that will surprise you: not the biography of the TR that we know from history, but the shaping of him into that man. His father and mother were truly exceptional people, she a wonderful story teller coming from an eccentric southern family and he a patriot and charity-driven socialite. This book tells the story, as McCullough says in the afterward, of what formed the frail, asthmatic boy into the larger than life President. The books ends when he is finally the man we know.
And the journey there is amazing. He struggled throughout his childhood with sickness, his family lived a lifestyle that has long since vanished, he deals with amazing victories at an unprecedented early age and he survives the most devastating of losses. His character changes and grows and we watch with amazing precision as a new man emerges. This book is wonderful history, fantastic detail, an intimate character study, and ripping good fun. Enjoy it!
14 of 15 people found this review helpful
By Tim on 10-04-13
On The Back Burner
"Morning on Horseback" is my last book from David McCullough because I am finally caught up with his discography. It is painful for me to write this review of Roosevelt because I have enjoy McCullough's work thus so far. Other reviewers blames the poor reading from Nelson Runger, but he has narrated so many of David's books that I have become custom to his style of narrating. I didn't find Nelson's voice to be slow or irritating. His performance of telling Roosevelt's life was spot on with the pace of the book.
After reading all of McCullough's works from Harry Truman to the Americans in Paris, I have the up most respect for him, but this story about Roosevelt is not really compelling to get into. It seems like his life was pretty routine at the time and didn't really have any hardship while he was growing up, other than his Asthma.
Since Roosevelt had a privileged life, it felt like the author was grasping any kind of information that he could find. I'm surprised that Mr. McCullough didn't explain the paint in Roosevelt's room. It was that boring to me that I almost gave up.
Needless to say, I am sad that I don't have anything else to listen to from this great historian. I hope that they will record more of his books on audio, but if you happened to be a fan of this author, either read Morning on Horseback on the back burner or read it first because the rest of his titles are fantastic.
If I have known about his material in school, I would had become a history major instead.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By raggedstaffman on 01-20-15
Early life only, and indifferent reader.
What did you like best about Mornings on Horseback? What did you like least?
The author has written a fine book, but it is not a general biography of TR, just a discussion of how he came to be who he was, his family, his background. That's fine - if you already have read a bio of TR, but if you haven't, you really need to read one first. So there's nothing - save brief mention at the end - about the Rough Riders, nothing about his Presidency, nothing about his later life, really, i.e. what makes him a great man.
How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?
To be fair to the author, he does say in his introduction that this is not a general biography - but for some reason Audible put this at the end, not the beginning! The cover does, on reflection, probably explain this, but it is normal for most biographies to at least cover the main events of their subject's life. Essentially I chose it because of the author's reputation.
What do you think the narrator could have done better?
I didn't like Nelson Runger's narration. He is slow, and I don't like the voices he puts on for the subjects of the book. Probably just personal taste.
Was Mornings on Horseback worth the listening time?
Yes, but only just. It was not the general explanation of TR's genius that I was looking for, but as I explain above, it is perhaps not entirely fair to criticise the book or the author for that - just take care that this book is what you really want.