What Theodore Roosevelt Read in a Two-Year Period

I recently finished the second volume of Edmund Norris’s trilogy on Theodore Roosevelt. (Earlier this year, I read The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, and this month I finished Theodore Rex. I recommend both.)

In Theodore Rex, Norris mentions a letter that Teddy Roosevelt send to Nicholas Murray Butler, then President of Columbia University, in which Roosevelt lists the books he’d read for the previous two years. It’s a mind-blowing list, especially when you consider that he read all this while President of the United States.

You can find the list here: what Roosevelt reads. Roosevelt didn’t read these books in their entirety. He wrote:

“Moreover, more than half of the books are books which I have read before. These I did not read through, but simply took out the parts I liked.”

But this is balanced by his statement that he’d forgotten about some of the books that he’s read, and so these works aren’t included on the list:

“Of course I have forgotten a great many, especially ephemeral novels which I have happened to take up; and I have also read much in the magazines.”

Sometimes Roosevelt only mentions the author’s name, and in those cases I don’t know which work(s) he read. Also, it is notable that some of these were books in French. Teddy Roosevelt wasn’t simply reading an almost unbelievable number of books, some of what he was reading was not in his native language

  1. The opening part of Waverly.
  2. His favorite scenes in Pickwick.
  3. His favorite essays in Macaulay.
  4. Some poems of Keats. (He hadn’t read probably 90% of Keats’ poetry, though.)
  5. Some poems of Browning. (He hadn’t read probably 90% of Browning’s poetry, though.)
  6. Parts of Herodotus.
  7. 1st and 7th books of Thucydides.
  8. All of Polybius.
  9. A little of Plutarch.
  10. Aeschylus’ Orestean Trilogy.
  11. Sophocles’ Seven Against Thebes.
  12. Euripides’ Hippolytus.
  13. Euripides’ Bacchae.
  14. Aristophanes’ Frogs.
  15. Part of Aristotle’s Politics.
  16. Ridgeway’s Early Age of Greece.
  17. Wheeler’s Life of Alexander.
  18. “Some” six volumes, reading “chapters here and there” of Mahaffey’s Studies of the Greek World.
  19. Two volumes of Maspero’s early Syrian, Chaldean and Egyptian Civilizations.
  20. Marbot’s Memoirs.
  21. Three or four volumes of Gibbon.
  22. Three or four chapters of Motley.
  23. Life of Prince Euguene (in French).
  24. Life of Admiral de Ruyter (in French).
  25. Life of Turenne (in French).
  26. Life of Sobieski (in French).
  27. The battles in Carlyle’s Frederick the Great.
  28. Hay and Nicolay’s Lincoln.
  29. Read completely and then reread parts of Lincoln’s Speeches and Writings.
  30. Bacon’s Essays.
  31. Macbeth.
  32. Twelfth Night.
  33. Henry the Fourth.
  34. Henry the Fifth.
  35. Richard the Second.
  36. First two Cantos of Paradise Lost.
  37. Some of Michael Drayton’s Poems. (“There are only three or four I care for.”)
  38. Portions of the Nibelungenlied.
  39. Portions of Carlyle’s prose translation of Dante’s Inferno.
  40. Church’s Beowulf.
  41. Morris’ translation of the Heimskringla.
  42. Dasent’s tranlation of the sagas of Gisli and Burnt Njal.
  43. Lady Gregory’s and Miss Hull’s Cuchulain Saga.
  44. Lady Gregory’s and Miss Hull’s The Children of Lir.
  45. Lady Gregory’s and Miss Hull’s The Children of Turin.
  46. Tale of Deirdre and other books by Lady Gregory and Miss Hull.
  47. Les Precieuses Ridicules.
  48. Le Barbier de Séville.
  49. “Most of Jusserand’s books.”
  50. Holmes’ Over the Teacups.
  51. Lounsbury’s Shakespeare and Voltaire.
  52. “Various numbers of the Edinburgh Review from 1803 to 1850.
  53. Tolstoi’s Sebastopol.
  54. Tolstoi’s The Cossacks.
  55. Sienkiewicz’s Fire and Sword (“and parts of his other volumes”).
  56. Guy Mannering.
  57. The Antiquary.
  58. Rob Roy.
  59. Waverley.
  60. Quentin Durward.
  61. Marmion (parts).
  62. Lay of the Last Minstrel (parts).
  63. Cooper’s Pilot.
  64. “some of the earlier stories and some of the poems of Bret Harte.”
  65. Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer.
  66. Pickwick Papers.
  67. Nicholas Nickleby.
  68. Vanity Fair.
  69. Pendennis.
  70. The Newcomes.
  71. Adventures of Philip.
  72. Conan Doyle’s White Company.
  73. Lever’s Charles O’Malley.
  74. Brockden Brown’s Romances.
  75. An “occasional half hour’s reading in Keats, Browning, Poe, Tennyson, Longfellow, Kipling, Bliss Carmen.”
  76. Poe’s Tales.
  77. Lowell’s Essays.
  78. “some of Stevenson’s stories.”
  79. Allingham’s British Ballads.
  80. Wagner’s Simple Life.
  81. The Rose and the Ring.
  82. Hans Andersen’s works.
  83. “some of Grimm.”
  84. “some Norse Folk Tales.”
  85. “stories by Howard Pyle.”
  86. Joel Chandler Harris’s Uncle Remus.
  87. Joel Chandler Harris’s other stories.
  88. “two or three books by Jacob Riis.”
  89. Mrs. Van Vorst’s Woman Who Toils (“and one or two similar volumes”).
  90. “the nonsense verses of Carolyn Wells.”
  91. Kenneth Grahame’s Golden Age.
  92. Somerville and Ross, All on the Irish Shore.
  93. Somerville and Ross, Experiences of an Irish M.P.
  94. Townsend’s Europe and Asia.
  95. Conrad’s Youth.
  96. Phoenixiana.
  97. writings by Artemus Ward.
  98. “Octave Thanet’s stories.”
  99. “various books on the Boer War.” (He references three books specifically, so he read more than three books just on this topic.)
  100. Pike’s Through the Subartic Forest.
  101. Peer’s Cross Country with Horse and Hound.
  102. “a number of books on big-game hunting.”
  103. “several volumes on American outdoor life and natural history, including the rereading of much of John Burroughs.”
  104. Swettenham’s Real Malay.
  105. David Gray’s Gallops.
  106. Miss Stewart’s Napoleon Jackson.
  107. Janvier’s Passing of Thomas.
  108. “other stories” of Janvier’s.
  109. Benefactress.
  110. The People of the Whirlpool.
  111. London’s Call of the Wild.”
  112. Fox’s Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come.
  113. Hamlin Garland’s Captain of the Gray-horse Troop.
  114. Tarkington’s Gentleman from Indiana.
  115. Churchill’s Crisis.
  116. Remington’s John Ermine of the Yellowstone.
  117. Wister’s Virginian.
  118. Wister’s Red Men and White.
  119. Wister’s Philosophy Four.
  120. Wister’s Lin McLean.
  121. White’s Blazed Trail.
  122. Conjuror’s House.
  123. Claim Jumpers.
  124. Trevelyan’s American Revolution.

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