Theodore Roosevelt, a cowboy wearing a pince-nez

Theodore Roosevelt, a cowboy wearing a pince-nez


Теодор Рузвельт, ковбой в пенсне

Published a book about the most underrated President of the United States

This year marks 160 years since the birth of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th U.S. President, historian, journalist, research scientist, an outstanding political figure.

To this date, the subject of a book by American journalist and publicist Leonid Spivak River “Theodore”, published by the Russian publishing house “Moscow”.

The “book River “Theodore” is written in a very fun, – the columnist of the Internet magazine “Opinion” Larisa Maksimova. – To keep the reader’s attention, Spivak alternates chapters describing the life of Roosevelt with the story of his last expedition on the river with the telling name – the river of Doubt in Brazil… the River was always in the life of Theodore Roosevelt. Almost all of his expedition is sailing on the rivers when you do not know what is around the corner, where will the next bend, make do not cover do. River “Theodore” is a book about the fate of remarkable person.”

“The book of Leonid Spivak about the fate of Theodore Roosevelt made an impression on me, – says Vladimir Guga in “Nezavisimaya Gazeta”. – 26th President – real “cowboy pince-nez”, a character from the long stories that wove in the courts in the pre-Internet era. It’s amazing how he managed this short-sighted fat man (our analogue – Isaac Babel) to fight in the Boxing ring, and shoot the knee of Winchester, and cowboystiefel, and take a bullet (several attempts), and with the butt of the oligarchs, and to engage in international diplomacy, and still write tons of popular scientific works. Now such presidents do not do.”

Leonid Spivak, a graduate of new York University, originally from St. Petersburg. Since 1993, he lives in Boston. The author of numerous articles about Russian-American cultural relations of the 18-20 centuries. His book “the history of the city of Boston”, “Judas” and “the Loneliness of a diplomat” is devoted to the insufficiently known pages of the American and European history.

Correspondent of Russian service “voice of America” called to Boston author Leonid Spivak.

Oleg Sulkin: Leonid, as far as I know, you are not a historian, not a scientist-americanist. Why did you decide to write this book?

Leonid Spivak: History is my passion. As Chekhov said, medicine is my lawful wife and literature is my mistress. About Theodore Roosevelt there was very little written in the Russian language. There are two books about him and Anatoly Utkin Irina Belyavskaya Soviet era. This monograph socio-political nature, typical of that time criticized the “petty-bourgeois-minded” Roosevelt, and so on. And, perhaps, everything. Maybe due to the lack of adequate information Russian reader often confuses the 26th US President Theodore Roosevelt with the 32nd President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

O. S.: in Addition to biographical story actually about Theodore Roosevelt you make extensive excursions into the various events of his time, particularly in the Russo-Japanese war, the construction of the Panama canal and Russian-American relations. And an expedition into the jungles of the Amazon, you generally did like the Central event of his life. Why?

L. S.: Yes, I went to a certain risk, dropping the two parallel narrative threads, alternating biographical chapters with chapters of detailed, too, with the domes of the description of the expedition. Cinematic technique of parallel action, which, as you know, was invented and introduced into practice Griffith, must, I think, to quicken the perception of a book reader. After all, not everyone loves pure science, and I wanted to make the book more exciting.

O. S.: the Inevitable question: where did all the information? You are unlikely to work with primary sources?

HP: I read almost everything that came out of Roosevelt in the English language. It is written about him very much. There are four or five serious biographers, are the main sources on which I relied. Next, I read a lot on related topics. I want to mention: I’m not competing with American historians. I’m not an academic historian, and popularizer.

O. C.: so you haven’t worked in the archives?

HP: Almost all of the personal and political papers of Roosevelt have been published. Take the letter to Roosevelt. They are completely published with detailed comments. I can read them in the books, not looking his fluent handwriting. And so with all the documents and historical sources.

Теодор Рузвельт, ковбой в пенсне

O. S.: There is a perception that American history of the time is not very interesting…

L. S.: It’s not. I think that this stereotype in Russia hammered and hammered into the heads of unscrupulous teachers in schools and universities. Just do not know the history. Working on the book, I was introduced to Russian use a lot of names of people who our reader is unfamiliar. I am convinced that history can be very exciting, most importantly – how to present it.

O. S.: can Not capture the diversity of the interests and Hobbies of Theodore Roosevelt. Do you think any of the presidents of the United States according to this criterion can be put next to him?

Теодор Рузвельт, ковбой в пенсне

L. S.: Perhaps only Thomas Jefferson, another amazing scientist and scholar. By the way, it is also very different judge today. The range of estimates is wide: from deification to harsh criticism. Roosevelt was the norm – a book a day. People did not believe that he could so quickly read. Once gave him sort of an exam, asking to repeat the content you just read books, which he brilliantly did. He had a photographic memory; he could reproduce page after page.

O. S.: What, in your opinion, the main achievement of Theodore Roosevelt as President and as a person?

L. S.: He was one of the rare people who live happily. He loved to take risks and never did. He was the first President of the United States, took to the air on the plane, and the first President to be submerged under water on a submarine. As for the political achievements of… Before him, America was a largely provincial country, merchant Republic with strong tendencies to isolationism. However, as we see today, these impulses are very tenacious. In fact, it was Theodore Roosevelt brought America into the international arena. So, he built a strong fleet, making the country a Maritime power. And second, in my opinion, the most important achievement of the resulting conservation laws and activities. Thanks to his action, and accepted at his insistence, the laws of America today remains a country of vast uncontaminated, protected forests, mountains, rivers and lakes.

Теодор Рузвельт, ковбой в пенсне

O. S.: what do you think about his social programs? After all, he is considered a forerunner of important government initiatives of the other Roosevelt, Franklin?

HP: Being a bold visionary, he was clearly ahead of his time. In his “an honest course” (Square Deal) discernible outlines of the new deal (New Deal) FDR. They were both extraordinary fearless fighters, demonstrating the Roosevelt family will. After all, Franklin Roosevelt Theodore has a distant relative.

O. S.: Despite the phenomenal will of the first Roosevelt, the setback suffered in the elections of his favorite child, the Progressive party. Why?

HP: As we know, in the history of American third parties have never made significant progress. The two-party system is firmly fell on the soul of America. And the reasons must understand sociologists and historians. There was, however, a subjective factor. The election of 1912 Roosevelt had to fight with Woodrow Wilson, another very bright person and a strong politician. Wilson won and carried out many important reforms, some borrowing from Roosevelt. Not coincidentally, Wilson, too, like Theodore Roosevelt, winner of the Nobel prize.

O. S.: You are very detailed in minute detail to describe a dramatic and epic journey through the Amazon. Preserved diaries, the testimonies of the participants?

L. S.:the Preserved diaries of Roosevelt and his assistant, naturalist George cherry. This is the main source for all American historians.

O. S.:you can Not hit the fact: former U.S. President risks his life going on dangerous expedition into the tropical jungle.

HP: I think, at this point he decided everything for himself. He just made up. He didn’t want to be like that, sitting on the couch. And hence the determination of the person to walk on the edge of a precipice. After all, he lived only a year and a half after the Amazon.