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Kathleen Brady

May 2024
1min read


Biographer; author of Ida Tarbell: Portrait of a Muckraker

Most overrated:

Theodore Roosevelt. He was an outsized, charismatic personality who set America’s course for the twentieth century, but he is hailed as a champion in several areas where he in fact made mischief. Roosevelt was a “trustbuster” who was selective in his targets and who reined in “muckraking” investigative journalists who attacked oil and railroad cartels. He was a “conservationist” who himself slaughtered buffalo and caribou, and a heroic “Rough Rider” who could have been more effective, if less celebrated, had he retained his post as Undersecretary of the Navy and arranged for proper transport and supplies for troops engaged in the Spanish-American War, which he so eagerly sought.

Most underrated:

The American historian and naval officer Alfred Thayer Mahan, whose The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660- 1783 and The Interest of America in Sea Power: Present and Future provided a strategy and philosophical justification for American expansion and military glory at the turn of this century. Mahan urged America, whose territorial imperative had pushed it to the Pacific, to look beyond its shores and build up foreign markets and remote naval bases. The prophet of American world power and of naval force, Mahan was avidly studied by Theodore Roosevelt as well as by rival foreign powers, leading to an arms race and the buildup of fleets of dreadnoughts that clashed in World War I.

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