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Colonel Roosevelt (Theodore Roosevelt) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, 23 Nov 2010
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Praise for Colonel Roosevelt"Now with Colonel Roosevelt, the magnum opus is complete. And it deserves to stand as the definitive study of its restless, mutable, ever-boyish, erudite and tirelessly energetic subject. Mr. Morris has addressed the toughest and most frustrating part of Roosevelt's life with the same care and precision that he brought to the two earlier installments. And if this story of a lifetime is his own life's work, he has reason to be immensely proud." -Janet Maslin, The New York Times "Exemplary... Consistently rich and on point, with rapidly developing events providing a backdrop for the balanced examination [Morris] presents of his subject...The TR trilogy is masterful, and can rightfully take its place among the truly outstanding biographies of the American presidency." -LA Times
"Reading Edmund Morris on Teddy Roosevelt is like listening to Yo-Yo Ma play Bach: You know from the first note you're in inspired hands. In Colonel Roosevelt--the final installment in a trilogy that began with The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt and Theodore Rex--Morris registers the Bull Moose's last decade in handsome, sweeping prose that avoids the valedictory chord struck by biographers who, nearing the end of their prodigious labors, resort to swooning across the chapters, unwilling to let go of their muse." - The Washingtonian "Colonel Roosevelt, the third part of his three-volume biography of Roosevelt, is a worthy and extremely engaging culmination of Mr. Morris' work. It is popular history at its best." -Claude R. Marx, The Washington Times
Praise for the classic biographies by Edmond Morris The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize "One of those rare works that is both definitive for the period it covers and fascinating to read for sheer entertainment."--The New York Times Book Review "A towering biography."--Time Theodore Rex
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography "A masterpiece . . . A great president has finally found a great biographer."--The Washington Post "As a literary work on Theodore Roosevelt, it is unlikely ever to be surpassed. It is one of the great histories of the American presidency, worthy of being on a shelf alongside Henry Adams's volumes on Jefferson and Madison."--Times Literary Supplement "Magnificent . . . a compulsively readable, beautifully measured and paced account."--Chicago Tribune
About the Author
Edmund Morris was born and educated in Kenya and went to college in South Africa. He worked as an advertising copywriter in London before immigrating to the United States in 1968. His first book, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1980. Its sequel, Theodore Rex, won the Los Angeles Times Award for Biography in 2002. In between these two books, Morris became President Reagan's authorized biographer, and published the national bestseller Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan. More recently he has written Beethoven: The Universal Composer. Edmund Morris lives in New York City and Kent, Connecticut, with his wife and fellow biographer, Sylvia Jukes Morris.
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Having ceased to be President at the age of 50, it was unlikely that Roosevelt would settle for a gentle retirement at his home in New York. What he preceded to do was, however, astonishing. From going on an expedition to Africa, to running the most successful third-party presidential bid of the twentieth century, to exploring the furthest reaches of the Amazon, Roosevelt undertook tasks that would have stretched the endurance and limits of a much younger man. Further, even as his health declined, his was the strongest voice calling for American intervention in WW1 - a conflict that would have tragic repercussions for the Roosevelt clan.
All in all a very good concluding volume.
The paperback book itself contains 766 pages of which about 150 are devoted to source notes. This is proof in itself that Mr Morris has done a massive amount of research, much of it original and hitherto unpublished. Research is vital to success in biographies, no matter how well-known the subject of the biography. Hundreds of books have been written about the first President Roosevelt (a distant cousin of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the second one) and this trilogy must be the definitive study and it is, in my opinion, by far the best that I have read.
'Colonel Roosevelt' takes the reader through the subject's extraordinary adventures (some of them not for the squeamish) in Africa, his 'state visits' to many European nations and his failed attempt to regain the presidency as a Progressive in 1912. The campaign included a serious assassination attempt which 'Bull Moose' Roosevelt brushed off: he just carried on speaking. He succeeded then in humiliating his own Republican protégé, the fat and lazy William Howard Taft, and letting in another political enemy, the then less progressive Democrat, Woodrow Wilson.
Smarting from the 1912 election, the Colonel took off for a tour of South America which came close to killing him - again. He campaigned unsuccessfully for the Republicans in the 1916 election and against the over-intellectual and over-idealistic President Wilson subsequent to the election.
Despite illnesses stemming in part from his jungle trips, Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt was still considered a likely winner for the GOP in 1920. This was not to be for the Colonel died - of a broken heart (?) - at his home, Sagamore Hill, Cove Neck, New York, on the 6th of January, 1919, at the age of only 60.
I'm not an enthusiast for the Republican Party but Colonel Roosevelt, the progressive, was its most remarkable leader. He was truly progressive, well ahead of the thinking of his times. He was almost European in his outlook and his sophistication and, though an enthusiast for the Allies' cause in the so-called 'Great War,' he was also a lover of peace. There has not been a Republican like him since his sad passing. Subsequent GOP and Democrat leaders (including cousin FDR himself) appear as pygmies when measured in historical terms.
Edmund Morris's extraordinary and extraordinarily researched and well-written trilogy is an essential for any serious student of American politics and world affairs in the 20th century.
A footnote: I was probably mistaken in my suspicions regarding the relationship of Colonel Roosevelt and Major Archibald Willingham de Graffenreid Clarendon (Archie) Butt. The latter, quite possibly a 'gay,' left his former boss and close friend to become just as close to the fat and lazy Taft. Butt went down with the Titanic in 1912 and Taft was truly bereft - as was Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt.
The series is an interesting group of books. You'll learn a lot about one of the four occupants of Mount Rushmore, and discover why he induced love (amongst his supporters) and loathing (amongst his opponents -and members of his own party) in this book in particular.
As I said, this book looks at the 10 years after he left the Presidency. Anyone who knows something about Teddy Roosevelt will probably know that he went on a safari, and then made an abortive run for the presidency 4years after he left office. Both those areas are covered in detail here.
What people probably won't realise is that he tried to live a positively heroic (and packed) life after leaving the Oval Office. When he wasn't discovering the origins of rivers in Brazil or shooting animals for the Smithsonian, he was an iconoclastic politician, journalist and author who was predicting the start of WWI (and the consequential need to re-arm) long before most other American politicians realised there was a problem. His iconoclasm split his party and might have cost it the Presidential Elections in 1912 and 1916.
Morris thoroughly covers all these aspects of a "man called Roosevelt" in the series. This book is as interesting as either of its' predecessors because you'll see what sort of man (and character) it takes to split a party and return to it later. You'll learn what he did, how he thought, why he behaved as he did in the later stages of this book, and understand the sort of man who was prepared to send all his sons to war.
In short read this book if you want to understand one of the great American leaders of the the 20th Century, and comprehend how a man can be both war hawk and social liberal at the same time.
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