History as Literature: This book contains sections of text that are included in other works but there is much that can be gained by reading the message’s TR conveys as he elaborates on a very wide range of subjects that profoundly influences the march of civilization, within the pages of this book. The book could have had a sub-title of “The Practical Application Of Thought Process In Finding A “Square Deal”.
There is a mystery surrounding the publics knowledge of Theodore Roosevelt. The mystery is revealed by asking this question. What caused the public to know so very little about Theodore Roosevelt today? When his list of accomplishments for the public welfare have never been even closely equaled by other public people, the mystery is intensified. Why has the messages that he left to insure future prosperity been almost forgotten when they are backed up by his tremendous list of accomplishments?
I believe part of the mystery may be solved by understanding what human intellect forces became active in society from his generation to the next generation as he goes through the subjects in this book. The next generation did not experence the strugle for equality and were less impressed by TR position because human intelect often what more for less effort. One hundred years have passed since many of his words were delivered. That is often the time necessary for people to recognize the higher meaning of actions and the truth in words of warning.
What is a Square Deal? In one instance it means treating a rich person or a poor person equally. This seems easy to understand as a concept. But in reality how is it that people can enter into contracts or agreements and not have both parties believe they are entitled to more than they deserve during the course of interaction that takes place? The courts are filled with cases driven by this force of human intellect that wants a fair or square deal, with supposedly fair minded people, on both sides of the agreement, thinking they are being short changed. Everyday conflicts have the same force at work. Isn’t this the driving question in our day to day life? Was I treated fairly or should someone have done something differently to make it fair?
So lets look at TR in his day where wealth was crushing the little person in the birth of the industrial revolution. He took a position that angered wealth and pleased poor but the poor often enough, although grateful wanted more which would not have been fair, so he made enemies on both sides. This is a simplistic analogy but it shows the forces at work in the numerous other subjects which TR did not fear to tackle. He was popular in his day but there were always a fair number of those that sang his praise who did so because they were helped to get a square deal but who did not understand that they were not entitled to more and who through ignorance sided with those that promised them more than they were deserved.
If you have the character of a Theodore Roosevelt, you can become popular when you champion a square deal when things are out of whack and one side has an unfair advantage. But when you hold firm and recognize and list the arguments of both sides as a means of understanding the problem before you, you are apt to anger people. As you read or listen to this book you will see the practical application of TR looking at the beliefs of people and listing what is good and what is of lesser quality. Just because a person has a poor position on a subject TR does not reject the entire person's beliefs. TR has no sacred cows. He does not fear to take a position that may be unpopular. There was a great movement of equality and social justice in his day. TR played an important part in bringing that about. What may help explain the obscurity that TR sank into, after his days in the sun, is that human force that always believes an individual is entitled to more then they actually are entitled. When a greater level of equality was achieved, and TR’s position stood against both sides of the arguments wanting to receive more than they were entitled, few were left to sing TR's praises.
One hundred years have passed and some of the sacred cows which he gores in this book prove his position correct. Some may take exception to his position on other subjects. Be careful not to take a position that does not afford you the opportunity to see what the other side thinks is fair, you may never find the truth which is also alluding those that you oppose.
Theodore Roosevelt had the gift to indiscriminately look for good and evil in people and then explaining to those considered good and evil by others, that by working in combination for future benefit great things could be accomplished. That helps explain his list of accomplishments that no one in American Politics has come close to achieving. How his messages, that the passing of time has proved correct, have become obscure to the public, in proceeding years, when he as benefited them so greatly is less important than having others hear the message that he knew we would need to hear today.