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Mornings on Horseback

Narrated by: Nelson Runger
Length: 19 hrs and 22 mins
5 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

From the number-one New York Times best-selling author of John Adams

Winner of the 1982 National Book Award for Biography, Mornings on Horseback is the brilliant biography of the young Theodore Roosevelt. Hailed as a masterpiece by Newsday, it is the story of a remarkable little boy - seriously handicapped by recurrent and nearly fatal attacks of asthma - and his struggle to manhood.

His father - the first Theodore Roosevelt, "Greatheart" - is a figure of unbounded energy, enormously attractive and selfless, a god in the eyes of his small, frail namesake. His mother - Mittie Bulloch Roosevelt - is a Southerner and celebrated beauty.

Mornings on Horseback spans 17 years, from 1869, when little "Teedie" is 10, to 1886, when he returns from the West a "real life cowboy" to pick up the pieces of a shattered life and begin anew, a grown man, whole in body and spirit.

This is a tale about family love and family loyalty... about courtship, childbirth and death, fathers and sons... about gutter politics and the tumultuous Republican Convention of 1884... about grizzly bears, grief and courage, and "blessed" mornings on horseback at Oyster Bay or beneath the limitless skies of the Badlands.

©2007 David McCullough (P)2011 Simon & Schuster

Critic Reviews

  • National Book Award , Biography, 1982

"We have no better social historian." ( The New York Times)

What members say

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The Master Historian

This is the 3rd McCullough I have read, such a fan. He brings you into the subjects world with all it's trials, triumphs and tribulations - truly wonderful.

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  • Randall
  • 05-11-2018

Did not like this one

I am in the process of listening all of McCullough's titles. Now I only have Truman left, and I am wondering if I want to take a chance.
This book seemed so incomplete , and left me wanting. The author is usually so detailed that you feel you know every detail possible on the biography . It seems like that McCullough just got board with his subject, and skipped two thirds of Roosevelt's important achievements . I don't know what happened or why this is so incomplete.

I was aware that the description of the book said it covered the years between 1869 to 1886, and I am hoping that McCullough does a follow up bio of the rest of the Roosevelt life. I will purchase the second volume if it ever comes out, but will feel a bit ill used by needing to purchase the second volume.

Another major complaint in this book is the reader (Nelson Runger), reads soooooooo slowly that I listened at 1.5 speed.

108 people found this helpful

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  • Paul Ellis
  • 19-07-2017

Tedious and boring at times.

I have enjoyed David McCullough's works many times before, but this one disappointed for some reason. Unusually tedious, and at times boring. I couldn't wait to be done.

49 people found this helpful

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  • Fred H Bowers
  • 10-10-2016

Should have researched before reading....

I did learn a great deal about TR, but did not realize that the book did not discuss his presidency. This was a major disappointment, which I should have investigated in advance.
I also found the discussion of TR's asthma attacks and the lengthy dwelling of the author on his psychological theories concerning these overdone.
While I do not regret listening to this title, it does not compare to the same author's biography of Truman.

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  • C. Sharp
  • 29-04-2017

Not as good

McCullough writes what we would be interesting enough fair for other authors but after having read his other works on Truman and Adams, I found this one lacking. It isn't necessarily his fault as the character and the background of Roosevelt are much less interesting. While quite a character, he was given everything while so many during his time had so little. I found connecting to his upbringing very challenging and thus the story wasn't as powerful.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 26-07-2018

A bit dull.

This book is packed with information. At times it seemed like overkill. Like early on when the author drones on about asthma, or the meticulous detail given about people not named Teddy Roosevelt.

42 people found this helpful

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  • Mr. C.
  • 02-05-2017

Disappointed in the character

After finishing the marathon that is Truman, I wanted to explore another character of American history from David McCullough's thorough perspective. I thought Truman was fantastically written and provided details on events for which I wanted great detail.

Mornings on Horseback, on the other hand, felt monotonous and dragged on with details of the silver spoon lives of the Roosevelts in the mid to late 1800s. Listening for an hour about asthma was not what I had in mind. In the author's notes, he explains how he wanted to learn what formed this extraordinary character of history. Based on this book, I came away disappointed in who Teddy Roosevelt was as a person. I didn't find him heroic or admirable, not that it's the author's job to do those things. I guess I expected it to be more interesting and captivating.

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  • Amy
  • 28-01-2012

The performance was awful - story just okay

I was expecting a better story considering this was on best-selling book lists. While the story had some interesting parts, I may have enjoyed the book better if it had been abridged - the parts where the book delves deep into what asthma is and the psychology behind it was BORING - made worse by the very flat performance of the narrator. There were also other parts of the book, like Harvard history - when the school color officially became crimson rather than magenta - that made seemed unneccassary. At first, I had a hard time getting into the book because the performance was so monotone and you could actually hear when the narrator was taking deep breaths from his nose. It was a great book to fall asleep to. Also, the book changed my opinion about Theodore Roosvelt - I don't think I like him much after listening to this book.

53 people found this helpful

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  • Katie
  • 29-04-2017

Just ok...

Not the best teddy book I have read. Now as a disclaimer I thought it was solely going to be about teddy Roosevelt the president and didn't realize it would cover the entire family. It was interesting but I don't care about Mitty or bami! Give me more teddy!

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  • P. Evans
  • 16-09-2013

Narrator a great disappointment

Ordinarily, I would be providing glowing reports on any of David McCullough's books. However, the narrator was so poor-- slow reader, poor intonation, even mispronounced words-- that I abandoned it at about halfway.

I notice there is an abridged version of this same text with a much better narrator, Edward Hermann. I have not listened to it, but since I think Hermann is an excellent reader, it surely is heads and shoulders above this rendition.

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  • MP
  • 12-12-2016

I almost fell asleep driving

I have heard good things, but goodness. I couldn't get past the first two hours. I bought this for a road trip and had to turn it off because I almost fell asleep at the wheel. Terribly boring narrator, paired with a less than engaging book isn't a good combination.

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  • raggedstaffman
  • 20-01-2015

Early life only, and indifferent reader.

What did you like best about Mornings on Horseback? What did you like least?

The author has written a fine book, but it is not a general biography of TR, just a discussion of how he came to be who he was, his family, his background. That's fine - if you already have read a bio of TR, but if you haven't, you really need to read one first. So there's nothing - save brief mention at the end - about the Rough Riders, nothing about his Presidency, nothing about his later life, really, i.e. what makes him a great man.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

To be fair to the author, he does say in his introduction that this is not a general biography - but for some reason Audible put this at the end, not the beginning! The cover does, on reflection, probably explain this, but it is normal for most biographies to at least cover the main events of their subject's life. Essentially I chose it because of the author's reputation.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

I didn't like Nelson Runger's narration. He is slow, and I don't like the voices he puts on for the subjects of the book. Probably just personal taste.

Was Mornings on Horseback worth the listening time?

Yes, but only just. It was not the general explanation of TR's genius that I was looking for, but as I explain above, it is perhaps not entirely fair to criticise the book or the author for that - just take care that this book is what you really want.