Books

Theodore Roosevelt in the Field, Michael R. Canfield

TR in the Field coverFrom 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.”

Praise for Theodore Roosevelt in the Field:

“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.”  – Edward P. Kohn, author of Heir to the Empire City: New York and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt.

“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.” – Candice Millard, author of The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey.

“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.”  – Janet Browne, author of Charles Darwin: A Biography.

Field Notes on Science and Nature, Michael R. Canfield, ed.

Released from Harvard Press in 2011, Field Notes on Science and Nature contains actual pages from the notebooks of a dozen eminent living field scientists and naturalists alongside reflections on note-taking and fieldwork from those authors. Taken together, this volume provides an examination of how fieldwork is recorded and conveys some of the adventure and romance of the field.

A selection of press reviews of Field Notes on Science and Nature:

Nature, June 16, 2011, “Records in the field” review of Field Notes by Sandra Knapp.

The Wall Street Journal, “Spiral-Bound and Spellbound” review of Field Notes by Jennie Erin Smith

New Scientist, “Research Notes from the Wild Side” review of Field Notes by Jack Ashby

Barnes and Noble Reviews, review of Field Notes by Tess Taylor.

 

 

 

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