In Teddy Roosevelt & Leonard Wood: Partners in Command, John S.D. Eisenhower displays his deep fascination with presidential and military history. As the second son of Dwight D. Eisenhower and a graduate of West Point, the younger Eisenhower knew this world well. In December 2013, he died at the age of 91. Partners in Command, his last book, survives as a testament to the importance of collaboration and friendship.
As a writer and historian, Eisenhower’s approach is to synthesize the body of literature already written on the topic, not to immerse himself in archival research. In the second chapter of his book, “Sagamore Cowboy, Theodore Roosevelt,” Eisenhower tells a story that will be very familiar to all scholars of TR, even those just beginning their reading on the topic. Interest is heightened in the book when Wood emerges as the “doctor on horseback.” Wood goes west to Arizona and plays a role in the hunt for Geronimo, an adventurous story that TR would have loved to tell about himself. Roosevelt and Wood thrived on adventure and pushing one’s physical limits in the name of patriotic values.
Partners in Command is written in an approachable style that can be appreciated by military historians and general readers. The book’s greatest strengths emerge in describing the later years of Wood’s and Roosevelt’s lives when both men face decisions about WWI that show them at the most human level. Both want to maintain their youth, ambitions, and ability to define themselves. They want to recapture the successful experiences they had together in the Spanish American War. Even after TR’s death, Wood carried on his drive to restore the Republican Party and to defeat Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations. However, the memories of his partnership with Roosevelt would not be enough to remake the world.
Teddy Roosevelt & Leonard Wood: Partners in Command is currently available from the University of Missouri Press in hardcover and E-book formats.
Theodore Roosevelt and Leonard Wood, 1898. From the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.