Book Review Thursday: The Golden Lad: The Haunting Story of Quentin and Theodore Roosevelt


After reading several books in the last two years about the Roosevelts – Franklin, Eleanor, Alice and Theodore – I believe this one is perhaps the most poignant one of all as it explores the relationship between Theodore and his youngest son Quentin.  He adored his children, and they adored him right back (with the exception, of course, of his first child Alice with whom he had a sometimes-strained relationship).

This book by Eric Burns focuses on Theodore’s special relationship with Quentin, or Quenty-Quee as he liked to call his youngest son. Perhaps more than any other of his children, Quentin was most like his father.  They shared on particular thing in common – both suffered from one childhood malady or another – so much so that it pained Theodore to see his offspring suffer, especially “golden lad” Quentin who would be the frailest of all his children.

Quentin was the one who “got away” with more than the older children.  When the Roosevelts occupied the White House, Quentin and his friends were known as the “White House Gang”, running up and down the halls, playing pranks, making mischief.  His spirit and joie de vivre were so much like his father’s it’s no wonder the two had such a special relationship.

Many books have been written about Theodore Roosevelt, he being one of the most fascinating and colorful people to occupy the White House.  I expected this one to focus more on Quentin, given the title of the book.  Burns, however, spent a fair amount of time writing about Theodore while interspersing stories which highlighted their special relationship.

Theodore was thought by many to have been the most war-mongering president to ever occupy the office of United States President, even though during his tenure the nation was mostly at peace with the world.  Serving as a colonel during the Spanish-American War and charging up Kettle Hill (yes, it was Kettle Hill and not San Juan) did little to assuage his thirst for adventure, however.  Following his presidency, Roosevelt later pushed Woodrow Wilson to join our allies in Europe during World War I.

All of his sons, even young Quentin, signed up and sailed across the ocean to fight on foreign soil.  Sadly, his beloved young son was the one who didn’t make it back, buried by German soldiers in the field where his plane was shot down.  The news crushed Theodore Roosevelt’s spirit and in this we see yet another side of him – as grieving father, perhaps feeling guilty for his insistence to join the war effort.

It makes one wonder just how many more books can be written about “TR”.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed this book immensely simply because it broadened my understanding of what made him tick.  If you’re a fan of the Roosevelts, Theodore in particular, you will find it a quick (about 200 pages) and excellent read.

Rating:  ★★★★★

Have a GREAT day . . . someday it will be HISTORY!

© Sharon Hall (Digging History), 2016.

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