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4.7 out of 5 stars42
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on 10 April 1997
My dad gave me this book for my 22nd birthday a few years ago. I was intimidated by its width (about 700 pages) and doubted whether I'd make it through the first two chapters before putting the tome down, for good.
Then I picked it up and started reading. The next week or so gave me one of the most engaging, riveting, emotional reading experiences I've had.
Teddy Roosevelt was remarkable and tremendously likable, no, lovable. His life was marked by fascinating successes and devastating personal losses.
In this book, Edmund Morris captures an unforgettable personality with clarity. His writing is intense and intelligent, mirroring the book's rambunctious and driven subject.
Just trust me. I love a good novel like the next
guy, and this book is like the granddaddy of all summer novels - except it's all true. Read the book and
you will adopt this amazing man as one of your most enduring heroes.
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This is a pretty huge book, so the fact that I read it in three days is testament to just how good it is. I've never come across a biography that was as readable and engrossing as fiction before. Of course, it helps that Theodore Roosevelt was such a larger-than-life character that any biography about him would be exciting and gripping, but one mustn't detract from the skill of the author. This is an excellent, truly excellent book. I'm just glad that this is the first in a trilogy, so I have the enjoyment of two more hopefully equally as good volumes to read.

This volume covers the years from TR's birth up to McKinley's assassination in 1901, which ensured TR's accession to the Presidency. That TR was headed for the White House seems inevitable when you read this book, although I'm sure no-one at the time expected him to assume office in the way that he did, and I'm positive TR himself would have regretted his path to the highest office in the land as much as anyone.

It's almost hard to believe, reading this book, that anyone like Theodore Roosevelt could be real outside the pages of a novel. Such an immense personality, such charisma and magnetism and energy. Whether he is battling corruption in the New York Police Department or tracking buffalo in the West, charging up San Juan Hill in Cuba with his Rough Riders or climbing mountains before breakfast for fun, writing books in a matter of weeks or single-handedly preparing the nation for war, his personality fairly leaps off the page.

What it must have been like, to experience politics with a man like Theodore Roosevelt on the scene. Modern politicians pale laughably in comparison. Hell, everyone seems to pale in comparison. I'm just glad that this book is every bit worthy of the man himself.
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on 25 January 1999
Morris somehow manages to bring TR to life to the point that he practically stands up and walks out of the book into your living room. Even more impressive, Morris does this while dutifully retaining objectivity, giving equal and judicious space to the man's (relatively few) shortcomings and quirks. The result is that the reader lives through nearly every fascinating detail of how a real human being named Theodore Roosevelt surmounted his very human hurdles ultimately to develop into the true larger-than-legend icon he was and is. As much as I have enjoyed other TR biographies (e.g. by McCullough, by Miller) these do not quite reach the level achieved by Morris. The only disappointment is that the book focuses only on his life to the point of ascending to the Vice-Presidency, but after all the title is The RISE of Theodore Roosevelt . . . On rare occasions, the most detailed and honest truth is the most interesting story to read; this is one of them, don't miss it.
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on 25 November 2007
This book was very good. I have an instinctive suspicion of Republicans (I've been up off by the recent crop I think) so I fully expected to dislike the guy but I didn't.

This book, which is supposed to be part of a trilogy I'm told, covers Roosevelt's early life, from his birth to a well meaning patrician father in New York, to his finding out that he had ascended to the Presidency after the assassination of McKinley (the President who dies because they were poking round his intestines without anesthetic).

Roosevelt comes across as a sort of centrist patrician type (like Bush Snr.) with a common touch (unlike Bush Snr.), who loved his hunting and fishing as much for the scenery as for the hunting. By today's standards he is hideously patronizing to what he might call the "lesser races" (he seems to assume they should all aspire to being white, even though they would never achieve "caucasian class" for want of a phrase he might use), but he is a product of his time so that shouldn't be all that surprising. His views did make him make some odd decisions though, especially with regard to foreign policy.

It's a balanced biography but I'm left with a couple of thoughts after reading it. Firstly, part of me thinks that he would struggle to get the nomination today (or even possibly be a Bill Clinton style center-right Democrat at a stretch) because of his centrist views. Secondly I don't think he'd have been nominated as Vice-President had people known he would ascend to the Presidency after taking office, and America would be a very different place I think, without him in the Oval Office.
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on 2 October 1997
I have just discovered Amazon ! And with it a chance to tell you about one of the most inspiring and exciting books I've had the pleasure of reading, and rereading (twice). All the other reviewers are right : Teddy becomes a hero of awesome proportions. He is clearly one of the people from history I would most like to meet - in another life. Please Mr. Morris when will you write the sequel ? (i.e. the last years of his life ?). A book worth giving again and again.
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on 30 January 1999
People like to scoff at the idea that a historian can understand a person or time, but when you read Morris's book, you're convinced he's got it right. And why? Just take a look at the endnotes. He has everything down to the weather report from the day TR arrived in Albany as a state representative. When a historian has that much information, and has buried himself so much in the subject, he can share a captivating story.
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on 24 November 1998
Morris demonstrates that he is a writer to contend with. Working with Theodore Roosevelt as a subject, he had an easier task than if he were writing of someone else since Roosevelt was for much of his life at the center of all activity. Yet he does all of this with such panache that I was truly sorry to have the book end. There is much more that I want to know about Roosevelt.
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on 30 April 1998
This is a very fine book. Morris has a gift for narrative and a keen eye for detail. He pierces the myth of TR and reveals a man far more complex and interesting than the legend. No sycophant, Morris explores TR's dark side and his self-creation as a rancher, hunter, historian and military leader. Each page crackles with TR's energy and Morris's insight--a radiant combination. Morris's ultimate achievement may be his success in making late 19th century New York Assembly politics seem fascinating to a late 20th century reader. Like many other readers, my only disappointment is that Morris has yet to complete a sequel. Perhaps he is preoccupied with his biography of Ronald Reagan--which I look forward to with interest.
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on 6 August 1997
Edmund Morris' work on Theodore Roosevelt is one of the most engaging that I have read. When I first picked the book up to read it, I (like others) wondered if I could finish it within a year. I read it in a week! Although I knew some things about Theodore Roosevelt, I wanted to become more familiar with this, one of our three greatest presidents. After reading Morris' work, Theodore Roosevelt solidly became a personal hero, one after whom to take. Morris' work became a springboard for me to study further the life of Roosevelt--indeed, his work became a standard from which I have judged all other works on Roosevelt that I have read.
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on 29 June 1998
Mr. Morris writes in a very fluent style, and appears to write a very balanced bio of T.R.'s first 40 or so years.
I couldn't help but notice the slight antagonism that he showed when giving an opinion over some aspects of T.R.'s motives, such as describing him as being a kind of megalomaniac or seeming to show some hypocrisy in criticizing certain types of hunting (the idea is that all hunting must be bad).
One of the main issues for me was when he alluded that T.R. was partially responsible for the premature death of his brother Elliot's wife, Anna. T.R. is portrayed here (and other places) as a kind of cold-hearted tyrant, keeping the poor, downtrodden Elliot from his beloved, forgetting the abuse he freely dispensed toward her.
I think that 80 percent of the book is five star material, the other 20 percent being the reason for the average rating. Readers wanting to get other perspectives on T.R.'s life should read "Theodore Roosevelt: A Life" by Nathan Miller, "T.R. - The Last Romantic" by H.W.Brands, or "Mornings On Horseback" by David McCullough. The latter will give you another excellent record of T.R.'s early life.
I would, however, definitely recommend this book for anyone interested in this multifaceted, energetic historical person.
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