“The gap between rich and poor has never been wider . . . legislative stalemate paralyzes the country . . . corporations resist federal regulations . . . spectacular mergers produce giant companies . . . the influence of money in politics deepens . . . bombs explode in crowded streets . . . small wars proliferate far from our shores . . . a dizzying array of inventions speeds the pace of daily life.” Headlines like these were characteristic of America’s Progressive era, that tumultuous time in the early 1900s when the nation was coming unseamed and reform was in the air.
In her new book, “The Bully Pulpit,” critically acclaimed author, biographer, historian, and Pulitzer Prize winner Doris Kearns Goodwin explores this dynamic time through the intense friendship of Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft--a close relationship that strengthened both men before it ruptured in 1912, when they engaged in a brutal fight for the presidential nomination that divided their wives, their children, and their closest friends, while crippling the progressive wing of the Republican Party, causing Democrat Woodrow Wilson to be elected, and changing the country’s history. “The Bully Pulpit” is also the story of the muckraking press, which aroused the spirit of reform that helped Roosevelt push the government to shed its laissez-faire attitude toward robber barons, corrupt politicians, and corporate exploiters of our natural resources.