Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Entertainment

December 22, 2013

Book on Roosevelt, Taft offers lessons, wild tales

“The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism” (Simon & Schuster), by Doris Kearns Goodwin

In her beautiful new account of the lives of Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin spins a tale so gripping that one questions the need for fiction when real life is so plump with drama and intrigue.

“The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism” takes readers from cradle to grave of these men who led the nation during a pivotal time. Poignant details of their childhoods and courtships combine with painstaking explanations of the legislative battles they fought that helped shape the future of the country.

The former presidents are thoroughly humanized with accounts like these: Taft won over his future wife in part by offering to cut the meat for her younger sister at a picnic. Roosevelt’s earliest memories involve having asthma attacks and being unable to sleep except in the arms of his father, who would carry “the gasping child from room to room.”

Kearns Goodwin’s behind-the-scenes accounts put on full display life’s unexpected twists. Roosevelt’s mother and first wife died within the same day, a mere two days after his daughter was born; in his grief, Roosevelt escaped to the wilderness and considered a full-time career in ranching. Later in his tumultuous career, after party bosses nominated him as vice president in an attempt to muzzle him, Roosevelt was frustrated in the do-nothing role and made plans to begin law school. Soon after, President William McKinley was assassinated and Roosevelt became the nation’s youngest president.

Taft’s life dream was to be a Supreme Court justice and he often expressed dislike for politics. It’s ironic, then, that he felt compelled by prior commitments to decline Roosevelt’s numerous offers to appoint him to the bench, and ultimately became president himself.

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Poll

Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

I think it’s a good idea to feed all the students free of charge
I think those who can afford it should pay for their school meals
I think all students should be required to pay for their school meals
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