“Now we’ve got that damned cowboy as President!” Senator Mark Hanna exclaimed referring to Vice President Theodore Roosevelt after President William McKinley’s death in September 1901. Bully for Michel Blake’s The Cowboy President: The American West and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt (TwoDot, $16.95).
As a young man TR (don’t call him Teddy) was skinny and sickly. Arriving in Dakota Territory along the Little Missouri River in September 1883, all he wanted to do was shoot a buffalo before they were extinct. But he fell in love with the West, its wide-open spaces, its wildlife, and its hardworking independent people.
The West loved him back, and when it was through with him, he was “as strong as a bull moose” and transformed into a champion for the common man and the wise use of the people’s land for everyone’s benefit, not just a few. It’s fitting Theodore Roosevelt is the only President to have a national park named after him.
—Bill Markley, author of Deadwood Dead Men