“Power and Responsibility: The Life and Times of Theodore Roosevelt” is William Harbaugh’s 1961 biography of the twenty-sixth president. For at least three decades it was considered the single best biography of Roosevelt, and it remains a favorite of many historians. Harbaugh was an avid scholar of TR and a professor for several decades. He died in 2005 at the age of eight-five.
The reason for this biography’s sterling reputation is quickly clear. It is sober, thoughtful, penetrating and often quite interesting. And while it serves to rehabilitate TR’s legacy (which was mixed in the decades after his death) contemporary readers will find it uniquely balanced in its coverage.
Enhancing its early sense of balance, Harbaugh is rarely shy about noting the perspectives of earlier biographers – including Henry Pringle (who was notoriously critical of TR) and John Blum (who authored a brief but exquisitely insightful study of…
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