Michael Patrick Cullinane
Theodore Roosevelt's Ghost
The History and Memory of an American Icon
Louisiana State University Press 2017
That Theodore Roosevelt remains one of America’s most recognizable presidents nearly a century after his death is due in no small measure to the flamboyant image he presented. Yet as Michael Patrick Cullinane reveals in Theodore Roosevelt’s Ghost: The History and Memory of An American Icon (Louisiana State University Press, 2017), credit is also due to the efforts of his both family and friends to memorialize his accomplishments after his death. These efforts began with the news of Roosevelt’s untimely death in 1919, which prompted a wave of assessment as to his legacy. Over the course of the next decade, proposals for memorials moved on a number of fronts, with his widow and children playing a prominent role. Cullinane explains how in the 1930s the resurgent political career of Theodore’s cousin Franklin prompted a split within the family, as the two sides warred over the meaning of Theodore’s career and who was best suited to determine it. In the 1950s the approach of the centennial of Roosevelt’s birth prompted a new round of celebrations and monuments, now increasingly shaped by a generation of Americans for whom Roosevelt was only a memory. The decades that followed demonstrated the endurance of Theodore Roosevelt as a national figure, one whose wide-ranging achievements offered something for nearly every American to admire.