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Mornings on Horseback

Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanquished Way of Life, and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt is historian David McCullough’s 1981 biography of America’s 26th President. McCullough became fascinated with Roosevelt while researching his previous book, The Path Between the Seas, which describes the construction of the Panama Canal. Mornings on Horseback won the National Book Award (McCullough’s second) and the Los Angeles Times Prize for Biography.

Mornings on Horseback

McCullough opens the book in 1869, introducing the Roosevelt family: Theodore Roosevelt, Sr., his wife Mittie Bulloch Roosevelt, and their four children: Anna, Theodore, Elliot and Corinne. Theodore Roosevelt was born in 1858 in New York City and spent much of his youth in poor health. He was plagued by severe asthma, but also had a highly inquisitive mind, which included a lifelong interest in zoology. As a boy, he kept numerous specimens of taxidermy animals in his room, which he called the “Roosevelt Museum of Natural History.”

The family traveled extensively, including trips to Egypt and Europe between 1869 and 1872. Theodore soon discovered that physical exertion minimized his asthma, and led to his adoption of vigorous physical exercise. Roosevelt began studying at Harvard University in 1876, but his father died two years later. The book ends with Roosevelt’s engagement to his first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee, who died two days after giving birth to their daughter.

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