The biggest thing I remembered about Theodore Roosevelt, who everyone called Teddy but his friends called TR, was his quoting of the African proverb of carrying a big stick and walking softly.  He was the first president of the new American century and presided over a period of change and vast social revolution in public life.  Now there is a new documentary out about his life and presidency.

Starting this August 26th, now available on DVD from PBS Home Video and Paramount Home Entertainment comes the definitive collection of the important and pivotal American presidents of the twentieth century.  American Experience – The Presidents Collection – Theodore Roosevelt is ready to come into your living room and help explain why the twentieth century turned out the way it did.  Bring home this wonderful historic show today.

This DVD boxed set contains 15 DVDs and ten episodes from American Experience.  The presidents examined are, in chronological order, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, The Kennedys, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush.

This DVD is divided into four separate parts.  Part one is The Long Campaign.  In this section, we learn about the priviledged upbringing of TR and his father’s relentless philanthropy and moral way of viewing the world.  When his father died, the once asthmatic TR almost lost his mind out of grief and a sense of drifting.  He went to Harvard and married, even got elected to the NY legislature at 23, but then his mother and wife died within two days of each other.  Part two is The Bully Pulpit.  In this section, TR becomes president and uses his power for all sorts of things, most impressively busting up some trusts and building the Panama canal.  TR’s second wife had many children and he was able to get reelected.  Part three is The Good Fight.  In this section, TR begins his emphasis on conservation work and works hard to keep the peace in the world.  Part four is Black Care.  In this part, TR begins to work with African Americans after a lifetime partaking in the racism which was a custom of his time.  He also sees the first World War and has many of his views of life, honor and government shattered.  The film ends with him dying.  This film clocks in at an overwhelming 216 minutes.

The special features included in this DVD are a teachers guide to facilitate discussion in small groups.  It is stored in a PDF format.

I had forgotten so much that TR had done in his life.  At the age I am now, he was one of the most effective and vocal state legislators in New York.  He went out west and became a cowboy, then became the secretary of the Navy.  He was the governor of New York and such a reformer that the party boss had him upped to Vice-President where he couldn’t do any more damage.  Then he became president.  He is an impressive president and a greatly influential one.  John McCain is fond of comparing himself to TR.  The fact is that, other than their craven desire for war, TR is far closer to a Democrat to the left of Bill Clinton than nearly any Republican out there.

Experience this great documentary.

This DVD and the rest of the boxed set is available at

Nathaniel Jonet

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