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Burns begins the book with the Spanish-American War then goes into TR’s relationship with his youngest child, Quentin. TR had six children and was a doting father. Quentin was a fragile child and became his father’s favorite. TR was also a fragile, illness-prone asthmatic child. TR claims he overcame his ailments with a rigorous exercise regime. As the youngest child, Quentin grew-up in the White House. Burns tells of the escapades of the “White House Gang” led by Quentin. TR brought up his children with a strong sense of noblesse oblige. Most of the information in the book is well known to students of TR. Burns presumably attempts to show TR as a father, but Burns spends more time discussing TR than his children. I would have loved to learn more about Quentin and his siblings. Unfortunately, Quentin died young. He was an Army aviator during WWI and was killed when his plane was shot down over France.
I was disappointed at the number of factual errors in the book. There were so many of them I wondered if Burns did not do his research or the publisher failed to have the book edited. I will provide you with two examples of simple easily verifiable errors. The first one: Burns said Quentin signed up for the Army Air Corp. The Corp did not exist until 1926. During WWI, it was the Army Air Service. The second example: Eric Burns states Quentin flew an American made fighter plane when in fact, he flew a French Nieaport28. The USA did not make a combat plane during WWI. The book is medium length at just over seven hours. The book could have been a delight but between the factual errors and the concentration on TR, with little on the father-child relationship, the book for me was spoiled. This is the first book by journalist Eric Burns that I have read. I cannot recommend this book unless the reader knows little about TR.
Traber Burns does a good job narrating the book. Burns is an actor and audiobook narrator.
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