About the Author
H. W. Brands
Henry William Brands (1953- ) writes and teaches about American history and is
the author of 22 books and coauthor or editor of five more. His books and articles cover topics from the 18th century to the 21st, and include works of narrative history, interpretive history, and biography. He examines politics and foreign policy, business and economics, society and culture in his writing, which has received critical and popular acclaim. His biography of Benjamin Franklin, The First American, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 and the Los Angeles Times Prize, as well as a New York Times bestseller. In 2009, he was again nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for his book, Traitor to His Class.
Brands graduated from Stanford University in 1975 with a B.A. in history and received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Texas in 1985. He worked as an oral historian at the UT Law School for a year, then became a visiting professor of history at Vanderbilt. Currently, he is the Dickson Anderson Centennial Professor of History and Government at the University of Texas at Austin, where he has taught since 1987. He has frequently appeared at the annual Theodore Roosevelt Symposium held at Dickinson State University each fall.
T.R.: The Last Romantic.
In his time, there was no more popular national figure than Theodore Roosevelt. It was not just the energy he brought to every political office he held or his unshakable moral convictions that made him so popular, or even his status as a bona fide war hero—the man who led the Rough Riders up San Juan Hill in Cuba during the Spanish-American war. Most important, Theodore Roosevelt was loved by the people because this scion of a privileged New York family loved America and Americans. His highly exaggerated and often uncompromising ways drove many of his business and personal friends
crazy. His historical writings, which Brands quotes from extensively, are
nothing if not a portrait of a boy’s endless macho fantasies. He was often so
full of himself that his speeches and writings were the frequent subject of
fierce satire in their time. Even more revealing, according to Brands, was
Roosevelt as son, brother, husband, and father. According to Brands, to
understand both the public and private life of Roosevelt one must understand the impact of his father’s death while he was still a child, denying him the
opportunity to come to terms with his own manhood.
When his first wife Alice died of complications from childbirth, leaving behind a baby daughter Alice, his response was to run away to shoot buffalo in the West [to the Badlands of North Dakota], leaving the newborn infant to the care of his unmarried sister Bamie. When his second wife Edith was seriously, perhaps fatally ill, he left her to fight in the Spanish-American War. His only concern when his brother Elliot, who had been his only friend as a child, became an alcoholic, was to hide the news from the public. Determined that his four sons would not dishonor his belief that men, to achieve their manhood, must test themselves in war, he arranged for each to serve, often in the frontlines, during World War I. His youngest son Quentin would die in that cause. Beautifully written, powerfully moved by its subject, TR is a biography appropriate to today’s critical times.