Lion in the White House “A Life of Theodore Roosevelt by Aida D. Donald

Lion in the White House “A Life of Theodore Roosevelt by Aida D. Donald




Lion in the White House “A Life of Theodore Roosevelt by Aida D. Donald


            In the American history, the first modern American president, Theodore Roosevelt lived a whirlwind life of action, venture, and colossal accomplishment, which was unexpected at that time. A number of institutions and people who incorporate the lessons into educational systems recognized the contributions made by Theodore Roosevelt. Among the prominent subjects is that of history that tries to identify the stages of development and origin of the profound character (Lansford, 2005). The author, Aida Donald is a renowned historical writer who has proved relevant in tracing the historical background behind Roosevelt. Aida Donald has been an American history Editor-in-chief of Harvard University Press for a number of years. She has been part of the publisher Hill and Wang, the Massachusetts Historical Society, and the Johns Hopkins University Press. Having acquired a Doctorate in Philosophy in American history, Donald has been a teacher at Columbia University. The book has 308 pages. It was published in 2008 by Basic Books (Donald, 2007).

In Donald’s Details about Lion in the White House: A Life of Theodore Roosevelt, a descriptive discussion of the astonishing life of a man who reshaped the executive and forged modern America chronicled in a thrilling, lyrical new life history (Donald, 2007). It also highlights a number of relevant issues and the life history of the modern American president while connecting them to issues that are being experienced in the recent dispensation. Roosevelt played the part of a war conqueror for the Spanish-American War and was a dynamic reformer and supporter for the typical American citizen. Donald attempts to compress the events and activities that were carried out by Roosevelt in the many pretexts. This review provides a comprehensive analysis of the life and impact of Theodore Roosevelt and the influence that was seen in American history since 1865 (Donald, 2007).


            Over the years, the United States has had a number of presidents who have proved relevant in elevating the status of its citizens to a global level. The book by Donald expresses various ideas among them being the fact that Roosevelt was one of the modern presidents who were recognized as world leaders and had the belief that the United States was a prospective world power. Donald begins at the grassroots where the family of Roosevelt lived. It identifies the early life of the modern president and tries to determine whether they had an impact in shaping the future. Roosevelt was born of a family of six that lived in Broadway, New York. The zeal to become one of the prominent people in politics could have emerged from the indifference that the parents to Roosevelt had regarding politics. His mother was an associate sympathizer while his father was a staunch Republican (Donald, 2007). Recently, hereditary form of governance has incorporated into a number of countries where fathers involve their sons in the political scene to take over the family heritage.

As Roosevelt grew, so did his aura and passion for becoming a political force. Donald portrays Roosevelt to be a man of frenetic energy, charismatic personality and polarizing rhetoric, a trait that is required if a person is to survive in the political scene. Considering that Roosevelt had high admiration for his father, he decided to pursue a different course from that of law education and join the Republican Party to uphold and elevate its virtues and philosophies. It displays utter confidence in penetrating the political scene. According to Donald, Roosevelt thought he would restructure the government through introducing various civil service reforms and laws. Drawing theories and references from former President Lincoln, in terms of wisdom, philosophy, and politics, Roosevelt intended on changing the Republican scene.

Roosevelt fame “Rose like a Rocket” between the years 1886 and 1897 (Donald, 2007). During the second half of US History, most countries were recovering from the civil war. At this point, Roosevelt was appointed as the assistant secretary of the Navy and was later appointed civil service commissioner. He played a tremendous role in tackling issues relating to racism, immigration, and conservation of the American resources. He made sure that any issue that prevented the country from attaining global recognition was eliminated. Roosevelt was among the people who spearheaded movements to preside over the amendment of civil rights, voting policies and laws as well as the restructuring of the environmental legislation.

The strengths of this section are seen where Roosevelt attempts to create equality among the people. Roosevelt acts as an activist to represent the opinions of the people diverting complete attention from the government. He also achieved an eight-hour workday and an increase in factory inspections in an attempt to break up tenement sweatshops. At a time where inequality, degradation, and capitalism were the norms, Roosevelt proved to be a relevant figure in history. He presided over the Spooner Act in 1902, which endorsed the president to obtain the designation of the New Panama Company (Donald, 2007). The Hepburn Act controlled the railroad construction, and the Pure Food and Drug Act prohibited the manufacture, trade, and transport of deceptively labeled food and drugs in the country. The Naturalization Act and the McCumber Act were both effort to restructure the immigration rules in America and allow pension to all heroes of the Civil War each month. These acts were relevant parts of creating an improved country that was steered by safety and performance. They also prove relevant for developing countries that aspire to become global nations.

During this tenure, Roosevelt immensely increased the jurisdiction of the executive government, built a solid foundation of the anti-trust laws, encouraged and achieved conservation of about 16 million acres of forestland, and was a key player in the settling of the Russo-Japanese war (Lansford, 2005). Although the outcomes of such activities appeared to be beneficial, there were also some negative effects visible. In some cases, the movements often caused damage and controversy where the government was forced to use brutal force to disperse the people. Similarly, the policies that were enacted limited the manufacture and environmental sector to the benefits they would accrue from various business dealings and activities. Moreover, once the executive was granted increased power over affairs of the country, the feeling and fear that the wrong candidate would misuse such powers was not ignored. Donald attains transition in the sections through a developmental approach that ensures the readers acquire detailed knowledge and can expand their perception on Roosevelt.


            Donald covers important aspects that prove relevant while trying to understand one of the philosophical characters in history. Their contribution to the American situation during a time that was crucial remains unique and valuable. As a reader, I believe that the information provided by Donald is a comprehensive and educative piece of historical literature that is only attainable by keen scholars. Donald builds a piece from the grassroots and transitions situations through time to accelerate the comprehension of the readers. I would recommend others to read this book since it is an elucidation of the recovery period for America after the civil war. It highlights how the U.S restructured its systems through a modern president. I learned that the present condition of a person does not define the future situation. Roosevelt was from a basic family with no desire for politics but grew to be an admirable figure in American politics.



Top of Form

Donald, A. D. P. (2007). Lion in the White House: A life of Theodore Roosevelt. New York: Basic Books.

Top of Form

Lansford, T. (2005). Theodore Roosevelt in perspective. New York: Novinka Books.


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