“It’s Shakespeare,” historian George Will says in the opening minutes of The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, “to have a single family in which human flaws and virtues are on such vivid display—and the constant struggle between those vices and those virtues to try to do good and fulfill one’s duty.”
In his new PBS series, Ken Burns doesn’t need to embellish history to evoke Shakespeare—only poetically document it. The Roosevelts, then, is not just a fascinating account of one of the most sociopolitically influential families in U.S. history—but a testament to the truth of how pain and hardship can shape a person into an American hero. “All the Roosevelts were wounded people with something to overcome,” explains historian Geoffrey C. Ward.
Tonight’s episode, “Get Action,” which kicks off the weeklong event, stars mostly Theodore, telling the improbable story of how a sick and fearful little boy overcame his weaknesses and grew into the robust, fearless man who would become the youngest president in American history. READ FULL STORY