In a life full of momentous episodes, Theodore Roosevelts fifteen-month post-presidential odyssey to Africa and Europe has never been given its due place. In 1909 and 1910, fresh from the presidency, Rooosvelt embarked on a grand expedition that fulfilled a long-held dream for the hunter-naturalist. Moving from Egypt to British East Africa to the Belgian Congo, Roosevelt hunted elephants and rhinos, parlayed with mercenaries and tribal kings, and observed the changes wrought by European colonialism. Along with his big game rifles, Roosevelt also brought his bully pulpit and accompanying ideals, lecturing diplomats and politicians on both continents on the exertions required to maintain the burden of empire.In this engaging narrative, J. Lee Thompson traces the exhilarating adventures Roosevelt undertook as well as periods of doubt and disillusionment. Even as TR realized one dream of nature on safari, he came to believe another, more vital to his heart and legacy, was being undermined at home by President William Howard Taft. Having initially assumed that the new president would continue his predecessors cherished conservation policies, Roosevelt came to realize that Taft, left alone in the political jungles of Washington, was directly undermining his legacy. This led to an acrimonious split between the two old friends, Roosevelts explosive return to the American political stage, and ultimately the election of Woodrow Wilson.A tale of daring adventure, international celebrity, a friendship lost, and a political legacy transformed,Theodore Roosevelt Abroad is the first full account of a critical episode in the life of an American icon.
This excellent book touches the audience who enjoyed David McCullough s biography of T.R., and is in that league. The writing is self-assured, evocative, and fair-handed; the character sketches (crucial in such books) are delightful and the Roosevelt family lore is fascinating. Thompson s writing is accessible, and the choice of quotations makes the characters live in the reader s mind. - R. J. Q. Adams, Distinguished Professor and Patricia and Bookman Peters Professor of History, Texas A&M University I warmly recommend this book to anyone interested in Theodore Roosevelt and his time. It is well-researched and well-written, as well as very timely. - Hans-Dieter Sues, Ph.D., Associate Director for Research and Collections, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History I learned a good bit reading it, especially the fact that Teddy could not be a viable candidate in these media-driven days. He said too much, too frankly, with no little amount of balderdash thrown into the mix. Still, he was a real American of the old- school, teaching corrupt and jejune old-worlders a thing or two whenever he had the chance. - Thomas Kennedy, Professor of History Emeritus, University of Arkansas