Tuesday, June 7, 2016
The Naturalist: Theodore Roosevelt, A Lifetime of Exploration, and the Triumph of American Natural History
This is a book that I requested and received from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I requested it, thinking it was simply a biography of a U.S. president I had admired, but knew little about. I found his life story interesting, his poor health as a young child and his hard work to make himself fit and well, and his early fascination with the study of animals. I admire him for his work to promote conservation of natural resources and of wildlife, but the unending accounts of killing grizzlies, bison, elephants, hippos and rhinos were distressing to me. I note one quote from the book in particular, a narrative on hunting hippos: "As Roosevelt later pointed out, the cow's (female hippo) object may have been as benign as an escape to deeper water, but its wide-open jaws seemed to indicate that it was 'bent on mischief.' " Seemed like Roosevelt was the one bent on mischief; the hippos were minding their own business. I confess, I am one of the "mushy sentimentalists" like those deplored by Mr. Roosevelt. That said, his legacy cannot be denied, that of natural history and of conservation.
Since writing this review, last night (June 7) I enjoyed watching a Nova episode on PBS (American public television) titled "Wild Ways". It was about modern methods of studying and conserving wildlife: tracking animals with GPS enabled collars, and trying to open up corridors for migration. Very interesting and encouraging!