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Publisher's Summary

From the number-one New York Times best-selling author of John Adams

Winner of the 1982 National Book Award for Biography, Mornings on Horseback is the brilliant biography of the young Theodore Roosevelt. Hailed as a masterpiece by Newsday, it is the story of a remarkable little boy - seriously handicapped by recurrent and nearly fatal attacks of asthma - and his struggle to manhood.

His father - the first Theodore Roosevelt, "Greatheart" - is a figure of unbounded energy, enormously attractive and selfless, a god in the eyes of his small, frail namesake. His mother - Mittie Bulloch Roosevelt - is a Southerner and celebrated beauty.

Mornings on Horseback spans 17 years, from 1869, when little "Teedie" is 10, to 1886, when he returns from the West a "real life cowboy" to pick up the pieces of a shattered life and begin anew, a grown man, whole in body and spirit.

This is a tale about family love and family loyalty... about courtship, childbirth and death, fathers and sons... about gutter politics and the tumultuous Republican Convention of 1884... about grizzly bears, grief and courage, and "blessed" mornings on horseback at Oyster Bay or beneath the limitless skies of the Badlands.

©2007 David McCullough (P)2011 Simon & Schuster

Critic Reviews

  • National Book Award , Biography, 1982

"We have no better social historian." (The New York Times)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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  • Joe
  • Kansas City, MO, United States
  • 04-04-14

This book is a scalpel

This is my second David McCullough book and they just get better and better. Here we have a story that will surprise you: not the biography of the TR that we know from history, but the shaping of him into that man. His father and mother were truly exceptional people, she a wonderful story teller coming from an eccentric southern family and he a patriot and charity-driven socialite. This book tells the story, as McCullough says in the afterward, of what formed the frail, asthmatic boy into the larger than life President. The books ends when he is finally the man we know.

And the journey there is amazing. He struggled throughout his childhood with sickness, his family lived a lifestyle that has long since vanished, he deals with amazing victories at an unprecedented early age and he survives the most devastating of losses. His character changes and grows and we watch with amazing precision as a new man emerges. This book is wonderful history, fantastic detail, an intimate character study, and ripping good fun. Enjoy it!

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

speed i[ up your player

the information presented is remarkable and interesting. the reader is sooooo sloooooow that i listened at 2x speed and it sounded "normal"

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Tim
  • United States
  • 10-04-13

On The Back Burner

"Morning on Horseback" is my last book from David McCullough because I am finally caught up with his discography. It is painful for me to write this review of Roosevelt because I have enjoy McCullough's work thus so far. Other reviewers blames the poor reading from Nelson Runger, but he has narrated so many of David's books that I have become custom to his style of narrating. I didn't find Nelson's voice to be slow or irritating. His performance of telling Roosevelt's life was spot on with the pace of the book.

After reading all of McCullough's works from Harry Truman to the Americans in Paris, I have the up most respect for him, but this story about Roosevelt is not really compelling to get into. It seems like his life was pretty routine at the time and didn't really have any hardship while he was growing up, other than his Asthma.

Since Roosevelt had a privileged life, it felt like the author was grasping any kind of information that he could find. I'm surprised that Mr. McCullough didn't explain the paint in Roosevelt's room. It was that boring to me that I almost gave up.

Needless to say, I am sad that I don't have anything else to listen to from this great historian. I hope that they will record more of his books on audio, but if you happened to be a fan of this author, either read Morning on Horseback on the back burner or read it first because the rest of his titles are fantastic.

If I have known about his material in school, I would had become a history major instead.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • MP
  • 12-12-16

I almost fell asleep driving

I have heard good things, but goodness. I couldn't get past the first two hours. I bought this for a road trip and had to turn it off because I almost fell asleep at the wheel. Terribly boring narrator, paired with a less than engaging book isn't a good combination.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Tedious

What would have made Mornings on Horseback better?

A focus on Roosevelt’s more interesting exploits. Well over an hour of this 19 hour tome is dedicated to every nuance of asthma. We get a detailed account of what asthma suffers experience along with a collection of historical & contemporary opinions on its causes. I get it was an important aspect of his character development but please... The book also suffered from horrible narration. Highly recommend you double the speed as it will make the narration cadence appear normal. If nothing else it cuts the pain in half. When they get to asthma turn it up to 3x.

Has Mornings on Horseback turned you off from other books in this genre?

No I really enjoy historical biographies.

Would you be willing to try another one of Nelson Runger’s performances?

Not if I can help it. Unfortunately he seems to narrate many of the books I gravitate to.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

It was good to get an inside look at one of America's legendary families. Just wished the author spent more time on the entree and less time on the appetizer

Any additional comments?

I was deeply disapointed in this book. I have enjoyed many of McCulloughs other works; John Adams, 1776 but can't recommend this one. He has managed to make one of our more influential and dynamic presidents a complete bore. Need to think long and hard about that Runger narrated 54 hour Truman book on my wish list...

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Amy
  • HARRISBURG, NC, United States
  • 01-28-12

The performance was awful - story just okay

I was expecting a better story considering this was on best-selling book lists. While the story had some interesting parts, I may have enjoyed the book better if it had been abridged - the parts where the book delves deep into what asthma is and the psychology behind it was BORING - made worse by the very flat performance of the narrator. There were also other parts of the book, like Harvard history - when the school color officially became crimson rather than magenta - that made seemed unneccassary. At first, I had a hard time getting into the book because the performance was so monotone and you could actually hear when the narrator was taking deep breaths from his nose. It was a great book to fall asleep to. Also, the book changed my opinion about Theodore Roosvelt - I don't think I like him much after listening to this book.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Nice work

The 2nd Half of the book with TR entering NY politics and his life in the West is absolutely riveting. Loved every bit of it. Found that the 1st Half which covers his childhood, family and Harvard was a bit slow.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Tedious and boring at times.

I have enjoyed David McCullough's works many times before, but this one disappointed for some reason. Unusually tedious, and at times boring. I couldn't wait to be done.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Not as good

McCullough writes what we would be interesting enough fair for other authors but after having read his other works on Truman and Adams, I found this one lacking. It isn't necessarily his fault as the character and the background of Roosevelt are much less interesting. While quite a character, he was given everything while so many during his time had so little. I found connecting to his upbringing very challenging and thus the story wasn't as powerful.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Fred
  • Princeton, NJ, United States
  • 10-10-16

Should have researched before reading....

I did learn a great deal about TR, but did not realize that the book did not discuss his presidency. This was a major disappointment, which I should have investigated in advance.
I also found the discussion of TR's asthma attacks and the lengthy dwelling of the author on his psychological theories concerning these overdone.
While I do not regret listening to this title, it does not compare to the same author's biography of Truman.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • raggedstaffman
  • 01-20-15

Early life only, and indifferent reader.

What did you like best about Mornings on Horseback? What did you like least?

The author has written a fine book, but it is not a general biography of TR, just a discussion of how he came to be who he was, his family, his background. That's fine - if you already have read a bio of TR, but if you haven't, you really need to read one first. So there's nothing - save brief mention at the end - about the Rough Riders, nothing about his Presidency, nothing about his later life, really, i.e. what makes him a great man.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

To be fair to the author, he does say in his introduction that this is not a general biography - but for some reason Audible put this at the end, not the beginning! The cover does, on reflection, probably explain this, but it is normal for most biographies to at least cover the main events of their subject's life. Essentially I chose it because of the author's reputation.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

I didn't like Nelson Runger's narration. He is slow, and I don't like the voices he puts on for the subjects of the book. Probably just personal taste.

Was Mornings on Horseback worth the listening time?

Yes, but only just. It was not the general explanation of TR's genius that I was looking for, but as I explain above, it is perhaps not entirely fair to criticise the book or the author for that - just take care that this book is what you really want.

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  • Greg Sale
  • 08-13-16

The Master Historian

This is the 3rd McCullough I have read, such a fan. He brings you into the subjects world with all it's trials, triumphs and tribulations - truly wonderful.