Mornings on Horseback: A Brief History

Mornings on Horseback is a captivating biography written by renowned author David McCullough. Published in 1981, this book takes readers on an intriguing journey through the early life of Theodore Roosevelt, one of America’s most influential and dynamic presidents.

The Story

The narrative revolves around the formative years of Theodore Roosevelt, from his birth in 1858 until his entry into Harvard University in 1876. McCullough’s meticulous research and attention to detail paint a vivid picture of Roosevelt’s upbringing, providing deep insights into the events and experiences that shaped his character.

During his childhood, Roosevelt battled numerous health issues, such as asthma. Despite these challenges, he found solace and strength in the love of his family and developed a passion for exploring the natural world around him. This fascination with nature and a longing for adventurous endeavors would later become defining traits of Theodore Roosevelt’s life and presidency.

Awards, Critics, and Acclaim

Mornings on Horseback received critical acclaim upon its release, with readers and critics alike praising McCullough’s impeccable storytelling and ability to bring history to life. This biographical masterpiece garnered several prestigious awards, including the National Book Award for Biography in 1982.

McCullough’s engaging writing style, coupled with his profound knowledge of the subject matter, created a compelling narrative that resonated with readers. The book not only delves into Theodore Roosevelt’s personal life but also explores the social and political context of the time, providing a comprehensive understanding of the era.

Critics praised Mornings on Horseback for its thorough research, fascinating anecdotes, and the way it humanizes one of America’s most iconic figures. McCullough’s ability to capture the essence of Theodore Roosevelt’s influential presidency earned him praise from historians and readers alike.

Important Characters

Several influential figures played significant roles in Theodore Roosevelt’s early life, shaping his worldview and ambitions:

1. Theodore Roosevelt Sr.

Roosevelt’s father, known as “Thee,” was a prominent philanthropist, businessman, and supporter of the arts. He taught his son the virtues of hard work, discipline, and integrity.

2. Martha “Mittie” Bulloch

Roosevelt’s mother, fondly referred to as Mittie, instilled in him a love for literature, music, and intellectual pursuits. Her influence on his upbringing was profound.

3. Elliott Roosevelt

Theodore’s younger brother, Elliott, shared his passion for exploration and adventures. Their close bond inspired Roosevelt’s thirst for knowledge and his unwavering spirit.

4. Edith Carow

Edith Carow, Roosevelt’s first wife, played a crucial role in his personal and political journey. Her unwavering support and intellect made her an influential force in his life.


Mornings on Horseback is an extraordinary biography that highlights the early life of Theodore Roosevelt and offers valuable insights into his transformation into a trailblazing leader. Through McCullough’s exceptional storytelling, readers are transported to an era filled with adventure, challenges, and the defining moments that propelled Roosevelt to become one of America’s most beloved presidents.

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