Discussion questions for Wilderness Warrior --
1. What does Brinkley mean when he says that "History still hasn't caught up with the long-term magnitude of [Roosevelt's] achievement"?
2. To what does Brinkley attribute T.R.'s drive to protect an astonishing 300 million acres of America's wilderness? How did his childhood passions and the loss of his first wife affect his later policies as president? Was there a coherent philosophy behind his convictions?
3. Brinkley suggests complex motives: "It's hard to escape the feeling that Roosevelt enjoyed creating national forests and... monuments in part because it was rubbing his opponents' faces in his wilderness philosophy of living." What do you think?
4. How does the author present Roosevelt's character, both as a man and a president? How would you describe Roosevelt's internal contradictions—his stance on hunting, for instance?
5. Talk about the political methods Roosevelt used to enact his conservation policies: would you describe them as "bold" (imaginative and gutsy) or "blunt" (dictatorial).
6. Who were the opponents of Roosevelt's conservation efforts —and what were their arguments? How similar is the situation today—those arrayed on either side of environmental issues, as well as their arguments pro and con?
7. What about John Lacey of Iowa? What role did he play in the history of American conservation? What are some of the other neglected figures who helped shape the country's conservation movement?
8. Describe Roosevelt's approach to Darwinism.
9. What do you make of the effort to save Hetch Hetchy Valley of Yosemite National Park, which was eventually flooded to provide water for San Francisco. How does one balance conservation and growth? What was Roosevelt's attitude? What is the author's? What is yours?
10. How many of America's scenic jewels described in this book have you visited? Are there those you would particularly like to see? Does the author do a credible job of painting the landscapes in your mind's eye—in other words, does Brinkley create a sense of place?
11. What are some of the most interesting facets of Roosevelt's life—or of American history—that you learned from this book? What else surprised or enlightened you?
12. A number of reviewers found this book overly long, bogged down in details. Do you agree with them?