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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of the acclaimed multi-million copy best seller Team of Rivals, filmed by Spielberg as Lincoln, turns to the birth of America's Progressive Era - that heady, optimistic time when the 20th century is fresh. Reform is in the air, and it is time to take on the robber barons and corrupt politicians who have brought the country to its knees.

The story is told through the close friendship between two presidents: Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) and his handpicked successor, William Howard Taft (1909-1913). The decades-long intimacy strengthens both men as they reform America, breaking up monopolies, protecting the rights of labour, banning unsafe drugs and closing sweatshops.

Also at the heart of the story are the original 'muckrakers' - a brilliant group of investigative journalists at the celebrated magazine McClure's. They publish popular exposes of fraudulent railroads and millionaire senators, aiding Roosevelt in his quest for change and fairness.

As Roosevelt, Taft and the muckrakers confront corruption and expose exploitation, America is reborn.

©2021 Doris Kearns Goodwin (P)2021 Penguin Audio

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Outstanding

Overall the book does a good job of describing not only the careers of Taft and Roosevelt but it goes the extra mile in explaining the symbiotic relationship they had with the insurgent elements of the press. The chapters on the specific pioneering journalists I feel could have been compressed a little. Overall the book gives a strong account of Roosevelt and Taft with emphasis on the idea’s of the era and the forces that propelled them. Anyone who wants to know about these exceptional men and the era look no further because this book will stimulate you more than a simple dry biography of a career but rather it gets to the heart of the matters at play.

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  • Ben
  • 09-02-2022

wonderful historical work

this is how political biographies should be written. factual, engaging, illumininating. most peoole know the broadstrokes of theodore and his bull and moose party but I knew little of his successor taft and the story as to his split from the republican party. this story has all the makings of a greek tragedy bar a somewhat happy ending of a reunion. i grew to really like taft and seems to be a great man, a good politician, with human flaws. and maybe less respect for roosevelt. how could someone with his talent and intellect not forsee how large a mistake he was making running in 1912. blinded by selfish need for power perhaps and his own popularity.

its uncanny the parallels i kept drawing with him and trump. a cult of personality fed with large crowds and political speeches. 'stop the steal' slogans, knowing they'd been squarely beaten. both born into new york money, hounding the nyt for unfair articles, love hate relationships. of course theo is 100 times the man trump is, but his weaknesses mirror trumps. his progressive policies which would be left wing now in australia, and extremist in america the way trump could be considered xenophobically extreme.

i guess not much of that is relevant to this review but thats what this book did for me. every chapter i found myself wanting to annoy my wife or friends with information i had just read. i have to say the 3rd part of this book about the media at the time is pretty dull and hard getting through. if i was an editor i wouldve pushed to drop it completely, perhaps its too others tastes. either way its more than forgiven going on how fascinating this was.

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