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Mornings on Horseback is a 1981 biography of the 26th President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt written by popular historian David McCullough, covering the early part of Roosevelt's life. The book won McCullough's second National Book Award[1] and his first Los Angeles Times Prize for Biography.[2]

Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life, and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt
Mornings on Horseback cover.jpg
AuthorDavid McCullough
SubjectBiography/U.S. History
PublisherSimon & Schuster
Publication date
May 1982
Pages370 pages
Preceded byThe Path Between the Seas 
Followed byBrave Companions: Portraits in History 



"The process by which a spindly, ailing boy grew into this man is one of the enduring American mysteries." – Geoffrey Ward[3]

The story begins in New York in 1869 by introducing the family: father Theodore Roosevelt, Sr., mother Mittie Bulloch Roosevelt and their children Anna (called Bamie), Theodore, Elliott (who becomes the father of Eleanor Roosevelt) and Corinne (called Conie). McCullough then flashes back to the backgrounds of Theodore, Sr. and Mittie, followed by their courtship and marriage, then the stories of their children, ending with Theodore's engagement to Edith Carow.

Writing processEdit

"My intention was not to write a biography of him. What intrigued me was how he came to be." – David McCullough[4]

During his research for The Path Between the Seas, describing the history of the Panama Canal and Theodore Roosevelt's role in its construction, McCullough says "I was interested in knowing what was involved in the metamorphosis of this most conspicuous animate wonder."[4]

Discovering thousands of letters in the Theodore Roosevelt Collection at Harvard's Houghton Library between the members of the Roosevelt family, "I realized what a truly marvelous and very large subject I had."[4] The wealth of correspondence allowed him to reveal the life of a well-to-do Victorian American family in depth heretofore unseen. He says "I've tried to see that individual, not just in the context of his family who were the closest to him and most important to him, but also to see the family in the context of a particular social class in which they were prominent."[5] McCullough speaks of the value in knowing who raised the future President: "If there was one discovery or revelation that meant the most, it was coming to know Theodore Roosevelt, Sr., who is central to this book, as he was in the life of his small namesake. I think it is fair to say that one can not really know Theodore Roosevelt...without knowing the sort of man his father was. Indeed, if I could have one wish for you the reader, it would be that you come away from the book with a strong sense of what a great man Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. was"[6] McCullough chose to end the story "when I thought he was formed as a person, when I felt I could say, when the reader could say, there he is."[4]


  • Denver Post "A fine account of Roosevelt's rise to manhood, well written and, like its subject, full of irrepressible vitality."[2]
  • Detroit News "This is a marvelous chronicle of manners and morals, love and duty, and as captivating as anything you will find between book covers in a long while."[2]
  • Barbara Tuchman "An extraordinary and fascinating picture of the family, home life and background that created the endlessly interesting man and President."[7]
  • John Allen Gable "...a masterpiece"[7]
  • The New York Times Book Review "...a beautifully told story, filled with fresh detail."[7]
  • Gore Vidal "Mr. McCullough's book belongs to a new and welcome genre: the biographical sketch."[8]


  1. ^ "National Book Awards – 1982". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2008-04-24.
  2. ^ a b c "Mornings on Horseback". Retrieved 2013-02-28.
  3. ^ "THE MAKING OF THEODORE ROOSEVELT". Retrieved 2013-03-07.
  4. ^ a b c d David McCullough (1982). Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life, and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt. Simon & Schuster.
  5. ^ "History is the Story of People. Not Events". Archived from the original on 2008-05-18. Retrieved 2013-03-01.
  6. ^ David McCullough (2001). Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life, and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt, reprint 2011 with new introduction. Simon & Schuster.
  7. ^ a b c "Powells". Retrieved 2013-02-28.
  8. ^ "Theodore Roosevelt: An American Sissy". Retrieved 2013-03-08.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit