His Father’s Son
The Life of General Ted Roosevelt Jr.
Penguin Random House, New York, 2017, 340 pages
Book Review published on: May 12, 2017
Following in your father’s shoes can sometimes be an easy job for a young man, but at other times it can seem like an insurmountable task. President Theodore Roosevelt led a dashing life. He was a great outdoorsman, an officer in the U.S. Army, president of the United States, and above all, a father. This last part is key, as Tim Brady’s book His Father’s Son: The Life of General Ted Roosevelt Jr. focuses on the life of one of Roosevelt’s children, his namesake—Ted Roosevelt Jr.
Brady shows his audience the type of life Gen. Ted Roosevelt was raised in. Immediately, we are shown a world where a charismatic father continuously placed duty and personal honor above all else, including family. This is not to say that the elder Roosevelt was a neglectful father. To the contrary, while in Cuba, his son accompanied him and saw how the future president carried himself in the presence of his soldiers. Roosevelt’s need to be the example and to always place the needs of his soldiers first were imprinted on Ted Roosevelt Jr., greatly influencing him as he eventually made his own name.
The book takes us from the cradle to the grave of Gen. Ted Roosevelt Jr. It covers briefly the whole scope of his life. Like his father, he was an avid outdoorsman; he hunted in some of the most remote parts of the world. He was a warrior of two world wars. In the First World War, he made his mark as he led soldiers in the first U.S. action of the war. Ultimately, he did not finish the war in the fashion he would have liked, as he was critically wounded. Nevertheless, his wounds did not keep him down. Following the war, he spearheaded the creation of the American Legion and eventually made his way into politics, much like his father.
The political world was not as receptive of Roosevelt as it was of his father, Brady points out. The Republican Party liked him, but that’s where it stopped. Whether from fear or distrust, we are left undecided as to why this man never became president. We are shown, however, that it did not stop him. With the breakout of World War II, Roosevelt found his calling by rejoining the Army. His old friend, now Gen. George Marshall, saw to it that Roosevelt’s actions from the previous war were not to be discounted, and Roosevelt was promoted to brigadier general.
The book finishes with Roosevelt’s untimely death at the age of fifty-six due to a string of heart attacks, which he attempted to keep secret from his men. Brady’s tale shows us the life of a man marked by success after success. His writing style makes for an easy and leisurely read. In the end, I would recommend this book for anyone interested in learning about the life of one of America’s lesser known legends.
Book Review written by: Capt. Eugene M. Harding, U.S. Army National Guard, Auburn, Indiana