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Winner of the inaugural Theodore Roosevelt Association Book Prize
A captivating account of how Theodore Roosevelts lifelong passion for the natural world set the stage for Americas wildlife conservation movement and determined his legacy as a founding father of todays museum naturalism.
No U.S. president is more popularly associated with nature and wildlife than is Theodore Rooseveltprodigious hunter, tireless adventurer, and ardent conservationist. We think of him as a larger-than-life original, yet in The Naturalist, Darrin Lunde has firmly situated Roosevelts indomitable curiosity about the natural world in the tradition of museum naturalism.
As a child, Roosevelt actively modeled himself on the men (including John James Audubon and Spencer F. Baird) who pioneered this key branch of biology by developing a taxonomy of the natural worldbasing their work on the experiential study of nature. The impact that these scientists and their trailblazing methods had on Roosevelt shaped not only his audacious personality but his entire career, informing his work as a statesman and ultimately affecting generations of Americans relationship to this countrys wilderness.
Drawing on Roosevelts diaries and travel journals as well as Lundes own role as a leading figure in museum naturalism today, The Naturalist reads Roosevelt through the lens of his love for nature. From his teenage collections of birds and small mammals to his time at Harvard and political rise, Roosevelts fascination with wildlife and exploration culminated in his triumphant expedition to Africa, a trip which he himself considered to be the apex of his varied life.
With narrative verve, Lunde brings his singular experience to bear on our twenty-sixth presidents life and constructs a perceptively researched and insightful history that tracks Roosevelts maturation from exuberant boyhood hunter to vital champion of serious scientific inquiry.