Biographies are good fat-summer-reads. They last several afternoons under the umbrella or inside someplace, out of the fog. My late next-door neighbor Harry preferred biographies, one per summer, preferably about Jacqueline Onassis or Katherine Hepburn. Another customer said she chose a fat biography to read while nursing each of her babies, most recently David McCullough’s John Adams. But, however sexist it sounds, most of Roseledge Books bio readers are men. (Memoirs and journals are another story.) I currently have medium to fat biographies of Einstein, Sir Francis Drake, Benjamin Franklin, and Theodore Roosevelt, the latter because my late neighbor Harry claimed a connection to TR and because TR understood the beauty of North Dakota. But mostly I have it because of Harry.


Fig. #33. My neighbor Harry’s house, an “after” view, without the shiny globe or the faux gladiolas atop the stump of the fallen maple tree. Roseledge Books is to the right.

Harry, whom I miss a lot, told me that Teddy Roosevelt was a nice man who lived next to his aunt and that he (Harry) would talk with him in his aunt’s back yard when Harry and his parents would visit. This is the same aunt, his mother’s sister, who bought the TH house in the 1930’s after returning from a family trip in the Laurentians to cool off from the summer heat of wherever in NY or CT they lived. (Apparently even then TH was the coolest place to be.) About the backyard encounters, however, Harry’s story gets a little iffy because I think Harry said that his aunt lived in Greenwich, CT in a large house left to her by her much older, very wealthy husband and former boss, and I don’t think TR ever lived in, or on the border of, Greenwich. But the story is all Harry and makes too good a tie to TH to let an iffy fact or two get in its way.

Edmund Morris’ The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (Modern Library Paperbacks)
Edmund Morris’ Theodore Rex (Modern Library Paperbacks)
David McCullough’s Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt
David McCullough’s John Adams
Walter Isaacson’s Einstein: His Life and Universe
Walter Isaacson’s Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
Edmund Morgan’s Benjamin Franklin (Yale Nota Bene)

John Sugden’s Sir Francis Drake

It’s always better to read two bios about the same person at or near the same time, because the juiciest, iffiest stuff is in the differences.

The webcam is on, and the harbor is sparkling in the sun.

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