Now that a few months have gone by since its premier, visitors to the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace have come to the house with a chance to absorb Ken Burns’s The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. Many folks, including yours truly, found it exhausting to take in two hours nightly for almost a week when it first showed. This past Saturday a couple visited who were in town for the long Thanksgiving Weekend. They had done Hyde Park on Friday and were now getting a dose of Theodore. That is becoming less unusual.
One of my favorite aspects of the Roosevelt documentary is that Geoffrey Ward received a considerable amount of facetime. I have always maintained that Ward plays the role of Larry David to Ken Burns’s Jerry Seinfeld. That is, Ward and Burns work together much in the way David and Seinfeld did. The public knows Seinfeld and Burns because they are the brand names. Behind the scenes though, Ward and David are very much equals to their more famous colleagues. Much of what you see on screen is theirs, even if the public doesn’t realize that.
I noted with pleasure yesterday that two of Ward’s long out-of-print titles are now back. My Kindle tells me that I am now 8% finished with Before the Trumpet: Young Franklin Roosevelt, 1882-1905 after having downloaded it last night from my local library. That’s good because after that there is A First-Class Temperament: The Emergence of Franklin Roosevelt, 1905-1928 waiting in the wings. These were just re-published in September, presumably to coincide with the PBS documentary’s release.
The “1928” brings FDR up to the election where he takes the New York governor’s mansion. I cannot help but wonder if Ward intended to write additional volumes that would bring the story up to 1945. If so, here is hoping he picks up the project. In the meantime, these two works will hopefully get the attention they deserve.