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The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America    by Douglas Brinkley order for
Wilderness Warrior
by Douglas Brinkley
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

'"We regard Attic temples and Roman triumphal arches and Gothic cathedrals as of priceless value," Roosevelt decreed, full of wilderness warrior fury. "But we are, as a whole, still in that low state of civilization where we do not understand that it is also vandalism to wantonly destroy or to permit the destruction of what is beautiful in nature, whether it be a cliff, a forest, or a species of mammal or bird. Here in the United States we turn our rivers and streams into sewers and dumping-grounds, we pollute the air, we destroy forests and exterminate fishes, birds and mammals not to speak of vulgarizing charming landscapes with hideous advertisements."'

So spoke Theodore Roosevelt on his belief that Americans are destroying their country piece by piece. He declared that we were honor bound to leave nature as we found it so that our children and children's children will be able to enjoy what we have seen and enjoyed. Roosevelt fought hard and long for his contention that we owed this to future generations. I can't see that things have really changed that much in this regard in the last one hundred years since he left the presidency.

He came into the presidency in 1901 and left it in 1909, leaving behind a legacy that would stagger others. He created or enlarged 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reservations, 4 national game preserves, 6 national parks, and 18 national monuments. All of this done by a driven man with more energy and enthusiasm than seems natural for anyone. It has been posited that he might have been bipolar which could account for his quick enthusiasms. He also suffered from asthma which helped account for his desire to live out in nature where it was less of a problem. His high pitched voice and glasses made him seem effeminate a classification he fought within himself, and in so doing accomplished great things

Roosevelt was one of the first naturalists and conservationists. A prolific and well-known author, he wrote about his treks to the American West as well as a book on the War of 1812 and one on Thomas Hart Benton. He became a congressman for New York, then its governor and then President of the United States. He accomplished a great deal more than conservation but there is not enough room in this review to list his achievements. '"One distinguishing characteristic of really civilized men is foresight," Roosevelt said. "We have to, as a nation, exercise foresight for this nation in the future; and, if we do not exercise that foresight, dark will be the future."'

I find it impossible to present a brief outline of the man. The author of this tome, Douglas Brinkley, took 817 pages to cram Roosevelt's conservationist life into print. There are also 100 pages of bibliography. I have read every page and wanted more. Treat yourself to a very worthwhile book that will give you insights into nature that would never have occurred to you otherwise. Roosevelt was not a perfect man. He made mistakes along the way. But his achievements far outweigh his misjudgments.

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