Michael F. Blake, a two-time Emmy-winning makeup artist and respected film historian, has recently published The Cowboy President: The American West and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt (TwoDot).
Tackling a biography of the 26th president and his life out West was a lot of fun for the author, who traveled much of the same ground on horseback that TR had once ridden. “I felt right at home,” Blake noted.
With a lifetime of collecting Roosevelt books, choosing five was difficult, but Blake believes these titles should be in everyone’s library:
1) Ranch Life and The Hunting Trail by Theodore Roosevelt (Dover Publications):
Of all the books TR wrote, this is my favorite. His writing reveals how much he loved the West. Plus, his friend Frederic Remington illustrated it.
2) The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Rex and Colonel Roosevelt (three-volume biography) by Edmund Morris (Random House): It took Morris three books to explain Theodore Roosevelt, but this massive undertaking is simply the best biography written on the man.
3) Rough Riders: Theodore Roosevelt, His Cowboy Regiment, and the Immortal Charge Up San Juan Hill by Mark Lee Gardner (William Morrow): Author Gardner has written the definitive work which honors Roosevelt’s Rough Riders and made TR a true American hero.
4) The Selected Letters of Theodore Roosevelt edited by H.W. Brands (Cooper Square Press): Brands provides readers a fascinating glimpse into the political and private life of Roosevelt from 1868 to the end of World War I in 1918.
5) American Cyclone by John M. Hilpert (University of Mississippi Press): Hilpert offers a detailed, engaging look at TR’s political career as he stumped across America as President William McKinley’s vice-presidential candidate in 1900.