Today, I’m featuring David Tindell and his recent release, Quest for Honor. Based on the book’s description, it looks to be an engaging read, filled with action and suspense. Tindell has also written a guest post for us that explains his admiration for President Theodore Roosevelt, called “The Strenuous President.” Take a moment to check out the book and his informative blog post.
Quest for Honor by David Tindell
Publication Date: May 26, 2014
Genre: Military, Suspense
“I love the name of honor, more than I fear death.” Julius Caesar
Jim Hayes lives a quiet life in Wisconsin, training in martial arts and studying the warrior ethos. Unable to prevent the murder of his wife six years earlier, Jim is determined that the next time he is called upon to act, things will be different, and he can restore the sense of honor he believes he has lost.
His estranged brother Mark, an Army colonel commanding a firebase in the mountains of Afghanistan, sees his career winding down and wonders what lies in store when he comes home. After years of dedicated service to his country, he fears nothing else will measure up when he removes the uniform for the last time.
In lawless Somalia, al Qaeda chieftain Yusuf Shalita, tired of endless jihad, has decided to defect, in one last attempt at redemption. But Shalita has only met one American he has ever trusted, so he tells the CIA he will surrender himself to Jim Hayes, his old friend from their college days in Wisconsin. That demand will bring the Hayes brothers back together in a way they never imagined, as they fight to prevent a new and devastating terror attack on the very heart of America.
David Tindell was born in Germany and grew up in southern Wisconsin. Today he lives up in the northwestern corner of the state, in a log home on a lake with his wife Sue, their Yorkie and two cats. After a career in radio broadcasting, Tindell went to work for the US Government and resumed the writing career he’d started in college.
His first novel, “Revived”, was published in 2000, but after that he put the pen aside for a time to train in the martial arts, earning a black belt in the Korean art of Taekwondo and instructor status in the Russian art of Systema. He currently trains in ryukudo kobujutsu, an art that combines karate with Okinawan weaponry. Like his protagonist in “The White Vixen”, Tindell is a linguist, although not as accomplished as Jo Ann Geary; he’s conversational in German and has also studied Italian and Russian.
THE STRENUOUS PRESIDENT
More than a century and a half ago, in October 1858, a small and rather sickly boy came into the world in New York City. His father was a hard-working businessman and philanthropist, his mother the daughter of Georgia planters whose home inspired Margaret Mitchell’s Tara in Gone with the Wind. The boy would grow up, overcoming severe asthma, the death of his father while the son was a young man, then the deaths of his wife and his mother on the same day, in the same house. He would become a conservationist, a naturalist, a big-game hunter, a cowboy, a politician, a linguist, a self-taught expert on naval warfare, a writer, an explorer, a mountaineer, a martial artist, a police commissioner, a civil service reformer, a soldier who would be decorated for heroism in combat, a governor, a vice-president, and then our 26th president. He was a man who lived the ultimate strenuous life, Theodore Roosevelt.
Entire forests have been felled to print books about Theodore Roosevelt. I have about 40 in my own collection, as well as about a dozen of the more than 30 books he wrote himself. My oldest is an 1899 version of The Rough Riders, TR’s first-person account of the exploits of his regiment, the 1st US Volunteer Cavalry, in the Spanish-American War of 1898. The Pulitzer-Prize winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin recently published The Bully Pulpit, a detailed but lively examination of the lives of TR and another notable American of the era, William Howard Taft. Roosevelt and Taft were close friends who worked closely together when Taft served as TR’s Secretary of War. Their friendship, sadly, was shattered by political differences after Roosevelt left office, but it recovered in TR’s final years.
From Rough Rider to Bull Moose
Like most American kids, I first read about Roosevelt in grade-school history books. I really didn’t start studying his life until about 15 years ago, when TNT produced a rousing movie about the Rough Riders with Tom Berenger starring as TR.
Roosevelt’s accomplishments in office were many and varied. He became president in September 1901 when William McKinley was assassinated. He won election to his own term easily in 1904 and would’ve been a lock to win in 1908, but he had already pledged not to run; at the time, there was no Constitutional limit on a president’s terms in office, but TR said he would not break the precedent that George Washington himself had set. (That would be left to his distant cousin, Franklin, to do in 1940.) Disappointed with Taft, his hand-picked successor, TR decided to run again in 1912. He won most of the GOP primaries easily but in those days the candidate was still chosen in the proverbial smoke-filled rooms at the convention, where Taft prevailed.
Undaunted, TR joined the Progressive Party and ran anyway, but he finished behind the Democrat, Woodrow Wilson. Chances are had TR been the Republican nominee he would’ve beaten Wilson. One wonders how history might have changed; for instance, would TR have been able to head off World War I? He had already done that once, several years earlier. Not only did TR win the Nobel Peace Prize for mediating an end to the Russo-Japanese War, he intervened when Germany and England nearly went to war in the final years of his administration, keeping the belligerents at arm’s length. It didn’t hurt that his earlier travels in Europe had already made him quite familiar with the power brokers and leaders in both countries, and German was one of the languages in which he was fluent.
Living the Strenuous Life
What impressed me most about TR was his approach to life. He lived it to the very fullest. As a child, nearly crippled with asthma, he had been told by doctors that he would always be frail and sickly. His father didn’t accept that, telling the lad, “You have the mind but you have not the body. You must make your body.” He had a gymnasium built in his home for his children to use, and the future president quickly became what we would today call a gym rat. He became an expert horseman, a boxer, a rower, a marksman, and led from the front when he was in the military.
A month away from his 43rd birthday when he became our youngest president ever, TR led a strenuous life even in the White House. He would frequently go on vigorous hikes and swims and horseback rides. He would bring Army boxers over to the White House gym for sparring sessions and also learned judo and kendo (stick-fighting) from visiting Japanese masters. After he left office he went to Africa for a long safari, and a few years later he participated in a dangerous, near-fatal expedition deep into the Amazon, thrillingly chronicled in The River of Doubt.
Before becoming president, before going off to war with the Rough Riders, TR gave a speech at the Hamilton Club in Chicago in the spring of 1898. It was entitled “The Strenuous Life”:
I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that the highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.
TR correlated the healthy individual with a healthy nation:
In the last analysis a healthy state can exist only when the men and women who make it up can lead clean, vigorous, healthy lives; when the children are so trained that they shall endeavor, not to shirk difficulties, but to overcome them.
I wonder how modern Americans would embrace that last paragraph. Not very willingly, I would bet.
His Amazon expedition had a serious impact on his health, however; he sustained a leg injury and it became infected. He recovered and survived the trip but he lived only a few more years, passing away early in 1919, a few months past his 60th birthday. In his final months, before his health quickly declined, he had been mentioned as the early front-runner for the GOP nomination in 1920.
The Lion Sends His Cubs
Roosevelt’s children followed his example. His oldest daughter, Alice, born to TR’s first wife just a few days before she died, became an early heroine of the women’s movement, the wife of a Speaker of the House, and one of Washington’s social mavens; she died in 1980 at age 96. In World War I, his five younger children all served. (TR himself volunteered to raise a regiment and go to France, but the Wilson administration turned him down.) Oldest son Theodore Jr. fought in both World Wars and as a general led troops ashore at Normandy (TR and Ted Jr. are the only father and son ever to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor). Kermit saw action with the British Army in the Middle East in the first war and later served in the second as well. Daughter Ethel married an Army surgeon and served as a nurse in France during World War I. Archibald was in the Army in both wars, was severely wounded both times and highly decorated. Youngest son Quentin became a fighter pilot in World War I and was killed in action. Sadly, it was Quentin’s death, just a few weeks before the end of the war, that may have precipitated the decline in his father’s health.
There is no doubt that Theodore Roosevelt was our most strenuous president, and one of the most courageous, as well. There was his Spanish-American war service, of course, but what many people don’t know about was the attempt on his life in 1912. During his campaign for the presidency, TR came to Milwaukee on October 14. Coming out of his hotel, TR was getting into his car, preparing to be driven to a rally, when he was shot at close range by a saloonkeeper. While the crowd and TR’s aides—no Secret Service detail in those days—wrestled the assailant to the ground, some furious bystanders yelled for someone to get a rope so the man could be lynched on the spot. TR rose up in the car and told the crowd to stand back and let the police handle it. The bullet had penetrated his glasses case and the folded 50-page speech, lodging some 3 inches into his chest. Roosevelt, being an experienced hunter and anatomist, correctly concluded that since he wasn’t coughing up blood, the round hadn’t struck his lungs, so he insisted on continuing to the rally to deliver his speech. He spoke for 90 minutes, his shirt soaked with blood, before going to the hospital. I swear, I am not making this up.
TR in today’s America
What would TR think about America today? On a number of fronts I think he would be pleased, but he would also be disappointed in us in some ways. What kind of impact would he have on today’s politics? TR got along well with the press and he always made good copy, so perhaps the usually-contentious relationship between journalists and the president would be toned down somewhat. That in itself would be a relief. He would be an ardent environmentalist, that’s for sure, and he would also be heartily in favor of a strong national defense. He would be a champion of women’s rights as well as those of minorities, but he would not be in favor of giving minority groups favoritism. He would go after the Wall Street barons with a vengeance. He would be very disdainful of public officials caught with their hand in the till or up a skirt. His reaction to a 9/11-style attack would be something to see. His approach to the health-care crisis would be one I would wish today’s politicians would adopt: first and foremost, he would insist we all get in better shape, start living the strenuous life and stop whining. He was a terrific president back then, and I think he’d be one now. Lord knows, we could sure use him.
Where to purchase Quest for Honor
Amazon: Quest for Honor
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