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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

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Did not like this one

I am in the process of listening all of McCullough's titles. Now I only have Truman left, and I am wondering if I want to take a chance.
This book seemed so incomplete , and left me wanting. The author is usually so detailed that you feel you know every detail possible on the biography . It seems like that McCullough just got board with his subject, and skipped two thirds of Roosevelt's important achievements . I don't know what happened or why this is so incomplete.

I was aware that the description of the book said it covered the years between 1869 to 1886, and I am hoping that McCullough does a follow up bio of the rest of the Roosevelt life. I will purchase the second volume if it ever comes out, but will feel a bit ill used by needing to purchase the second volume.

Another major complaint in this book is the reader (Nelson Runger), reads soooooooo slowly that I listened at 1.5 speed.

52 of 53 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

39 of 40 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Eric
  • ANGIER, NC, United States
  • 10-23-15

Drags on and on

What would have made Mornings on Horseback better?

Maybe I should have got the abridge version. From the very start there are minute and useless details given. I got about 3 hours into and it was still talking about Roosevelt's childhood. I even skipped ahead several hours trying to get to his adult life and it was still droaning on and on about useless details.

Any additional comments?

Can I get a refund?

38 of 39 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • charles
  • lake charles, LA, United States
  • 12-24-12

boreing

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Slow,very drawn out,no action

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

No

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Nelson Runger?

Really cant blam him,story has no action

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointments

Any additional comments?

Title leads you to belive this ia a action book

38 of 39 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

37 of 38 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointed in the character

After finishing the marathon that is Truman, I wanted to explore another character of American history from David McCullough's thorough perspective. I thought Truman was fantastically written and provided details on events for which I wanted great detail.

Mornings on Horseback, on the other hand, felt monotonous and dragged on with details of the silver spoon lives of the Roosevelts in the mid to late 1800s. Listening for an hour about asthma was not what I had in mind. In the author's notes, he explains how he wanted to learn what formed this extraordinary character of history. Based on this book, I came away disappointed in who Teddy Roosevelt was as a person. I didn't find him heroic or admirable, not that it's the author's job to do those things. I guess I expected it to be more interesting and captivating.

37 of 38 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Just ok...

Not the best teddy book I have read. Now as a disclaimer I thought it was solely going to be about teddy Roosevelt the president and didn't realize it would cover the entire family. It was interesting but I don't care about Mitty or bami! Give me more teddy!

37 of 38 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

37 of 38 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

37 of 38 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

I couldn't get past chapter 7.

The narration is so slow and dull I could never connect with the book. I really like the Authors other books in the genre, so this has ledt me feeling very disappointed.

37 of 38 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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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.