Doris Kearns Goodwin has hit another home run. Her in-depth examination of several of the key figures deeply involved in the early days of the Progressive Era will be sought after by every American history buff. Her research is aided by the daily letters people wrote and that other people preserved. It was a time not unlike our present day - a huge gap between the rich and the poor, highly-concentrated wealth in the hands of the few, corporations opposing and fighting against reforms. I found the discussion of McClure's Magazine and the outstanding investigative journalists Ida Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens, Ray Stannard Baker, and William Allen White the most interesting part of the book. These muckraking journalists are a far cry from our current sound bite media culture.
As she focused on the relationship between Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and Lincoln and his Team, Goodwin describes the broken friendship between Teddy Roosevelt and his chosen successor, William Howard Taft. With the help of the muckraking press including legendary journalists Ida Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens, William Allen White, and editor Sam McClure Roosevelt had wielded the Bully Pulpit to challenge and triumph over abusive monopolies, political bosses, and corrupting money brokers. Roosevelt led a revolution that he bequeathed to Taft only to see it compromised as Taft surrendered to money men and big business. The rupture between the two led Roosevelt to run against Taft for president, an ultimately futile race that resulted in the election of Democrat Woodrow Wilson and the diminishment of Theodore Roosevelt s progressive wing of the Republican Party.
Like Goodwin s chronicles of the Civil War and the Great Depression, "The Bully Pulpit" describes a time in our history that enlightened and changed the country, ushered in the modern age, and produced some unforgettable men and women.