THEODORE ROOSEVELT JR.: The Life of a War Hero

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THEODORE ROOSEVELT JR.: The Life of a War Hero, H. Paul Jeffers, Presidio Press, 2002, Novato, CA, 270 pages, $27.95.

There is no question President Theodore Roosevelt was a visionary in many aspects; truly a man ahead of his time. The diversity of his interests is rivaled only by his achievements. He was a Spanish-American War hero, a Medal of Honor recipient, Undersecretary of the Navy, an environmentalist, a driving force in the creation of the Panama Canal, President of the United States, and the list goes on. A man of his stature and unique nature casts a large shadow; some would aptly describe his as an impossible act to follow. But what if you were the son of such a man, more, the namesake? This was the life and difficult reality of Theodore (known as Ted) Roosevelt, Jr., who had no choice but to grow up in the shadow of a larger-than-life father. Yet, he became his own man and contributed to this country in a truly singular, remarkable way-a man with his own achievements, different from the father, but nonetheless important. Ted lived a remarkable life that has not often been chronicled. H. Paul Jeffers' book, Theodore Roosevelt Jr.: The Life of a War Hero, offers a contemporary look at the life of this important American.

Born in 1887, Ted was the eldest son in the rowdy, interesting Roosevelt clan. The book opens with Ted's arrival but quickly returns to his father's life, to lay down a background necessary to understanding the environment that influenced Ted's early life-an environment not short of structure or influence. By the time Ted was in his early teens his father had already been the governor of New York, a Spanish-American War hero, and president of the United States. To be ordinary was not in the Roosevelt genes. This fact was omnipresent in the Roosevelt home where normal houseguests shaped national and world events.

Ted had no choice but to achieve and live life to a higher order. Like his father, he had to overcome many challenges. He was neither a gifted student nor an athlete, but he possessed his family's spirit, overcoming any shortcomings that existed. His father was always present to lend a steady and sensitive hand. Even when Ted was in boarding school his busy president father found time to push and encourage him. President Roosevelt's letters show his sensitive understanding, wisdom, and careful words to his son. …