After Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, Doris Kearns Goodwin wields her magic on another larger-than-life president, and another momentous and raucous American time period as she brings Theodore Roosevelt, the muckraking journalists, and the Progressive Era to life.
As she focused on the relationships between Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt in No Ordinary Time, and on Lincoln and his team in Team of Rivals, Goodwin describes the broken friendship between Teddy Roosevelt and his chosen successor, William Howard Taft. With the help of the "muckraking" press - including legendary journalists Ida Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens, William Allen White, and editor Sam McClure - Roosevelt had wielded the Bully Pulpit to challenge and triumph over abusive monopolies, political bosses, and corrupting money brokers. Roosevelt led a revolution that he bequeathed to Taft only to see it compromised as Taft surrendered to money men and big business. The rupture between the two led Roosevelt to run against Taft for president, an ultimately futile race that resulted in the election of Democrat Woodrow Wilson and the diminishment of Theodore Roosevelt's progressive wing of the Republican Party.
Like Goodwin's chronicles of the Civil War and the Great Depression, The Bully Pulpit describes a time in our history that enlightened and changed the country, ushered in the modern age, and produced some unforgettable men and women.
©2013 Doris Kearns Goodwin (P)2013 Simon & Schuster
“Few audio productions this year are likely to match, or deserve as much praise as, this history of the Progressive Era and the presidential friendship that shaped, and was destroyed by, its politics… Edward Herrmann is simply her most simpatico reader…his steady, unflagging delivery is perfectly attuned to her narrative voice and, without mimicry, to the broad array of voices, personalities, and events that highlight this rich personal and social drama.” (AudioFile)
“Swiftly moving account of a friendship that turned sour, broke a political party in two and involved an insistent, omnipresent press corps. . . . It’s no small achievement to have something new to say on Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency, but Goodwin succeeds admirably. A notable, psychologically charged study in leadership.”(Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review)
I'm a writer of everything from children's picture books to fiction to memoir. I usually listen to nonfiction, mostly history, on Audible simply because I prefer to read novels on the page. The only exception to that rule is short stories and I'm partial to the Selected Shorts Anthologies.
Goodwin brings out the interesting tale of TR's great friendship with William Howard Taft. They complemented each other perfectly, and turned to one another on many occasions for advice and support as they each battled corporate interests in their own way. But in 1912, when TR decided to run on the Progressive ticket, the friendship soured to disdain. It wasn't until years later that these two men connected again in the years before Roosevelt died. The other fascinating part of this book is the description of the "muckrakers", Ida Tarbell, Ray Stannard Baker and Lincoln Steffen and their connection with S.S. McClure who brought them to print in his magazine, McClure's Magazine. Goodwin does an excellent job weaving all these characters together and Ed Herrmann is the perfect reader for this history. Highly recommended.
You really have to love history. The book is very detailed and based mostly off of personal letters written between Teddy and Taft. It can get a little long-winded at times, but that being said, I don't know what I would remove from book if asked to shorten it.
I really loved learning more about Taft, a little-known character in history. He was truly a great man.
I have listened to/read a lot of history. It is the rare feat when a writer can make history sound like a novel. DKG achieves it. Not only did I enjoy the writing style, I also enjoyed the structure of the book. I really enjoyed the discussion of Roosevelt, Taft, and the press. Looking at it through the lens of what is going on now (with the Tea Partiers, the call for eliminating income inequality) -- the underlying story really does have a modern feel to it. It was a book I did not want to end.
Rigorous, Penetrating, Exhaustive
Margaret MacMillan's The War That Ended Peace, both books are similarly well researched and written.
I especially enjoyed his subtle rendition of William Taft, the learned jurist.
No, because of the subject matter and penetrating depth of its subject matter, this book lends itself to slow, careful listening in small chunks. You want to make sure that you have time to digest the information before moving on to the next part.
I first encountered Doris Kearns Goodwin's writing in "A Team of Rivals" and became a fan of her writing. The Bully Pulpit has only served to make me an even more ardent reader of her work.
For starters I have read a lot of Doris Kearns Goodwin, but this is the first book I have listened to. To that end, I am starting to wonder if I should have READ this book as opposed to listening to it. Like her other books, I think it is very well researched. I think the issues I have with it are because of my tastes, which is what my ranking stems from. Here are some examples of aspects of the book that I do not like:
- Too much information about McClure's magazine. If the book ended with TR's presidency, this wouldn't have been an issue. But as the book winds down (finally!), and the story shifts to the rift between TR and Taft, I wonder if the long sections on the press were really necessary? I believe they were to the early part of the story, which is probably why the editor left them in the title.
- Given this, however, I feel like this is really two books in one. Book 1 was really about how TR used the press to move American opinion to his progressive agenda. Book 2 is about the relationship between TR and Taft. Their rift, split, and the start of a new party leading to the election of Wilson.
Overall, this is a very good work. I can't say that enough. It just isn't my favorite DKG work. For me, it falls down to fourth:
1) No Ordinary Time
2) Team of Rivals (more like 1A to the above)
3) Wait Till Next Year (*I'm a baseball fan, otherwise B.P. would fall in here)
4) Bully Pulpit
Runner, Commuter, Dietitian with a passion for U.S. History.
Normally, I find Doris Kearns Goodwin books among the best in historical biography, but this one didn't do it for me. William Taft, decent man and talented jurist that he was, doesn't provide engaging material for a sweeping history. Theodore Roosevelt (I get the hint and won't call him "Teddy") could hold my interest more, but in an annoying, frustrating type of way, As assistant secretary of the Navy, deceived his superior into taking an extended vacation so he could essentially set up a war, snapping up a leading role that propelled him into the oval office. Admittedly, TR bravely led his Rough Riders, but I couldn't help feeling sorry for the men once back home, in quarantine, recovering from Yellow Fever while Roosevelt boasts, "I had a bully war!" I would constantly doze off upon listening to the intricacies of the literary forays and social lives of the Mrs. Taft and Roosevelt. Through the biographies of the McClure's magazine writers I would slumber, only to awaken hours later to find myself in the Philippines with stodgy Mr. Taft and his wife who wore (gasp!) short skirts. I can't pinpoint the precise point in this mountain of details that I ended up liking TR less than before listening to the book. He was, after all, a good president, first rate conservationist, and skilled politician, and deserves his place on Mount Rushmore. Undoubtedly he was a fascinating individual, but I will promote this audiobook as the best non prescription sleep aid one could want, with no harmful side effects.
yes, the story is compelling and interesting. The way the author laid the groundwork for history, based on temperament is quite interesting. A good foundation
It was so distracting to listen to a book that was well researched and well written from a woman's perspective be read by a man, that I almost had to stop listening altogether on several occasions.
I love the last 150 years of history. Bully Pulpit and the Wilson biography absolute best!
The combination of Doris Goodwin's superbly interesting narrative and Ed Hermann's fabulous voice takes us back a hundred years and lets us walk around. A champ of a book! I was so sorry to finish it after 18 wonderful hours.
The Power of Connection
I could not pick a favorite. The author painted each so fully and lovingly, with strength and foibles, that to pick one would be an injustice to her craft.
He conveyed the emotion and social content that was the central theme which wove together these lives and made this more than a history.
The reconciliation of Taft and Roosevelt.
Doris Kearns Goodwin has a truly unique gift for weaving a tapestry of the connections and interactions of historic and political figures. She portrays how their networks of support, their rivalries and their weaknesses buoy them and drag them down. The human depth and character development she unfolds make her histories a joy to read.
What a great Book! The history of TR and Taft as well as the publishing industry of the day. Very informative and well performed. My only wish was that the book be shorter. Although very interesting their was much to much detail. These famous people who where much more liberal then any current day Republican could have been fleshed out with fewer words
What a way to learn about some of our most important political statesmen. a great listen. From Teddy Roosevelt to Woodrow Wilson all the in fighting and back room dealings a great insight.
Hermann's reading was fantastic! Of course he had great material to help him along the way with this very long book.
About two hours shorter would have been great!
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