From the University of Chicago Press: “Never has there been a president less content to sit still behind a desk than Theodore Roosevelt. When we picture him, he’s on horseback or standing at a cliff’s edge or dressed for safari. And Roosevelt was more than just an adventurer—he was also a naturalist and campaigner for conservation. His love of the outdoor world began at an early age and was driven by a need not to simply observe nature but to be actively involved in the outdoors—to be in the field. As Michael R. Canfield reveals in Theodore Roosevelt in the Field, throughout his life Roosevelt consistently took to the field as a naturalist, hunter, writer, soldier, and conservationist, and it is in the field where his passion for science and nature, his belief in the manly, “strenuous life,” and his drive for empire all came together.
Drawing extensively on Roosevelt’s field notebooks, diaries, and letters, Canfield takes readers into the field on adventures alongside him. From Roosevelt’s early childhood observations of ants to his notes on ornithology as a teenager, Canfield shows how Roosevelt’s quest for knowledge coincided with his interest in the outdoors. We later travel to the Badlands, after the deaths of Roosevelt’s wife and mother, to understand his embrace of the rugged freedom of the ranch lifestyle and the Western wilderness. Finally, Canfield takes us to Africa and South America as we consider Roosevelt’s travels and writings after his presidency. Throughout, we see how the seemingly contradictory aspects of Roosevelt’s biography as a hunter and a naturalist are actually complementary traits of a man eager to directly understand and experience the environment around him.”
Advance praise for Theodore Roosevelt in the Field:
Edward P. Kohn, author of Heir to the Empire City: New York and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt
“While other authors have explored Theodore Roosevelt’s time in the Badlands or his love of nature, Canfield is the first to highlight a distinct pattern in Roosevelt’s life.Roosevelt did not just experience the outdoors in an ad hoc manner, flitting to and from dilettantish forays in the American West, Africa, or the Amazon. Instead, Roosevelt engaged with the outdoors with his entire being, simultaneously as a natural scientist, intellectual, and writer. For every formative moment Roosevelt spent in politics, Canfield rightly points out that there existed an equally formative moment spent ‘in the field.’”
Candice Millard, author of The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey
“Canfield is the perfect writer for this subject, and what a subject it is. This is Theodore Roosevelt at his most electric and alive—the great naturalist in the field, which was far more his natural habitat even than the battlefield or the political arena.
With his masterful writing and carefully researched details, Canfield reveals Roosevelt not just as we remember him, but as he truly was: vibrant, brilliant, and endlessly fascinating.”
Janet Browne, author of Charles Darwin: A Biography
“This amazingly interesting book documents an amazingly interesting man…Canfield gives us a real treat in bringing these encounters with the natural world together in a single account that helps to explain Roosevelt’s passion for the wilderness and deep understanding of the wide variety of American landscapes and wildlife. Vividly written and historically accurate, this is an ideal book for anyone interested in natural history.”