A fantastic narrative about the friendship between Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft, and the lives of each individually. But more than that, it’s a story of how the two men(primarily Roosevelt) used the media to fairly promote themselves and their agendas. It’s about a time when journalists cared about their work and strove to produce great stories that could (and did) change the country.
I got the impression while reading that there really used to be honest politicians that worked for the betterment of society rather than for the empowerment of their corporate lobbyists (the narrative about corporate lobbying in this book is painfully familiar). For example, while Taft lived in the Philippines working to set up a new government just after the Spanish-American war, he sent his own children to one of the newly created public schools along with the native children. These days, politicians preach that they know what’s best for public schools, yet they send their own children to a private school (I’m looking at you, Scott Walker).
Goodwin’s politics are pretty obvious throughout the book, though not annoyingly so. She subtly demonstrates approval for Roosevelt and Taft’s efforts to reign in corporate power, and disapproval for those who opposed said efforts.
This rather large work of non-fiction reads like a novel, Goodwin having included plenty of amusing anecdotes to present a rich picture of her subjects. It took Goodwin seven years to write the book, and the majority of that time must have been spent doing research, much like the iconic journalists she writes about.
This is one of the best books I’ve read of any genre in the past year or so. It’s worth picking up your own copy. The hardcover isn’t cheap – the list price is $40.00. However, there are already used copies out there, and the Kindle edition is a more than reasonable $9.99.