We received in the mail this week a copy of Michael Canfield’s new book Theodore Roosevelt in the Field, published by the University of Chicago Press. Canfield begins by describing artist John Singer Sargent’s efforts to find just the right pose for his portrait of TR. The portrait needed to capture a man who defined himself by the environment that surrounded him. When Sargent finished the painting, Roosevelt was already focused on a cross-country trip and how he could fit in a short visit to Yellowstone National Park.
Canfield examines how experiences in the field and natural environments were essential to Roosevelt’s identity throughout his life. This was true of TR from his earliest days, when he created a natural history museum in his house, through his presidency and beyond.
Throughout the book, Canfield does not hesitate to tackle the contradictions inherent in Roosevelt’s appreciation for nature and his passion for hunting. Theodore Roosevelt in the Field will appeal to a variety of readers, including those interested in how ideas related to conservation have changed and developed over time.
As digital library coordinator of the Theodore Roosevelt Center, I appreciate the book for the depth of archival research Canfield did. I look forward to getting to see the archival documents Canfield viewed at places like the American Museum of Natural History. Canfield’s book is also an invaluable resource because of the inclusion of beautiful images from TR’s diaries and the sketches he did in the field. Readers can ponder Canfield’s analysis while also looking at the real thing. We get to enter the archive with a researcher and writer who understands what being in the field meant to TR and how Roosevelt defined his life.
Poem. Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University.
Electronic copy sponsored by the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University.
For reproduction or publication permission, contact the Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library.