The Strenuous Life: Theodore Roosevelt and the Making of the American Athlete


Product Details

$17.99  $16.73
Diversion Books
Publish Date
6.0 X 8.9 X 1.0 inches | 1.05 pounds

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About the Author

Ryan Swanson is an Associate Professor of history at the University of New Mexico's Honors College. He earned his Ph.D. in history from Georgetown in 2008 and has been studying and researching Theodore Roosevelt and his role in athletics in the United States for the past ten years. He is the author of When Baseball Went White: Reconstruction, Reconciliation, and Dreams of a National Pastime, which won the 2015 Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) research award, and co-editor of Separate Games: African American Sport Behind the Walls of Segregation, which received a North American Society for Sport History (NASSH) book prize in 2017. Swanson has also published a wide variety of articles and book chapters on the role of athletics in the United States.


"An engaging book you can hold with one hand while doing light bicep curls with the other...Swanson succeeds in telling stories that will be entertaining for readers without any previous knowledge of Roosevelt, as well as those who don't closely follow sports."
--Washington Post

"Ryan Swanson, a history professor at the University of New Mexico, [is] one of those enterprising academics who have perfected slicing American history into ever finer layers...Roosevelt is such a compelling figure that the book snaps awake when he's in action."
--Wall Street Journal

"There can hardly be a better companion for a romp through American history than TR, and Ryan Swanson's The Strenuous Life captures the great man in all his vividness. Through the sheer force of his personality, Roosevelt changed the way Americans take their leisure--and their sports--and ushered in the age of mass participation in athletics. Swanson takes this facet of Roosevelt's legacy and makes a compelling case that this is the way in which he most powerfully shaped us as a people. This is important stuff--and fun to boot."
--Jeremy Schaap, ESPN Journalist and New York Times bestselling author

"A contemporary described Theodore Roosevelt, America's most peripatetic president, as 'pure act.' He prefigured modern America, including its passion for competitive sports. Ryan Swanson shows how the person who turned himself from a sickly youth into a robust man saw athletics as means of making a muscular nation."
--George F. Will

"Do Nick Saban, Dabo Swinney, Mike Krzyzewski, and John Calipari realize that when they cash one of those hefty paychecks they should be thanking the 26th President of the United States? For, thanks to Ryan Swanson, we know that college sports as we know it owes a huge debt of gratitude to Theodore Roosevelt, surely the most obsessively strenuously fit man ever to reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and someone who believed firmly that sport and competition maketh the man. No fiction writer could concoct a more amazingly complex presidential character than Teddy Roosevelt, and Ryan Swanson captures him in all his bombastic genius. Perhaps the most important tidbit unearthed by Ryan Swanson: be aware that if summoned by Teddy Roosevelt to 'take a walk, ' leave the dress shoes and good outfit at home. It is not going to be a Harry Truman 'constitutional.'"
--Bob Ryan, Boston Globe and ESPN, winner of the PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing

"A fascinating account of president Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1918) and his influence on sports in America.... Sports fans and history buffs alike will enjoy this focused portrait."
--Publishers Weekly

"So Teddy Roosevelt, President of the United States, invites a few of his advisers for a little five-mile walk along the Potomac River. There's an assistant secretary of state, a major general in the U.S. Army, the French ambassador, and 'a couple other guys.' They ditch the secret service, climb a few ragged stretches of rock, take off their clothes, swim naked in the river's swirling and dangerous waters, return damp and dirty to the White House and resume work and Teddy didn't even worry about how his hair looked.... Read this joyous book about the birth of Roosevelt's 'strenuous life' and sport in America. This is great fun. Teddy got everything rolling."
--Leigh Montville, New York Times bestselling author of Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero and The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth

"The Strenuous Life is essential reading for anyone who cares about the history of sports in America. In luminous prose, Ryan Swanson shows how, as athlete and president, Teddy Roosevelt shaped th