Just when I thought I was tiring of the political talk, the author seemed to sense it and would switch to a different scene and style. I feel like I know Teddy now. My first five star rating.
Theodore Roosevelt is one of the most extraordinary people in history in my opinion, and there is MUCH to be gained from knowing his life story, the circumstances and events that molded him into who he is and his unique ways of thinking that ultimately led him to be one of the most powerful and respected men in the world.
The biography is fascinating from start to finish, and I bookmarked a LOT of the one-liners and golden nuggets of knowledge that such a close look at Mr. Roosevelt's life has to offer, and have changed my own way of thinking about others and the world around me as a result - with very positive impact.
Mr. Morris obviously has gift for creating fun to listen to biographies that are more like stories, and Mr. Deakins did a great job on the narration. I'm sure I'll be referring back to this audiobook frequently to ask myself "What would Teddy do?" ;-)
Fantastic, engaging, fascinating biography of TR's pre-presidency years. TR was a man for all seasons and ran through life with blind and uber-confident ambition. Morris does an amazing job of telling the story. I love his points of humor interspersed throughout. Deakins is excellent - I loved his portrayal of TR's voice - he sounds appropriately pompous, bombastic, and confident. I've moved on to the next volume and I'm disappointed to see that Deakins didn't narrate that one. This one is highly recommended.
This was an absolutely excellent book. It gave me everything I want from a biography. It chronologically relates all aspects of Theodore Roosevelt's life up to his presidency, after President McKinley's assassination in 1901. The next in the trilogy covers his years in the Presidency: Theodore Rex. I will very soon continue with that! I was worried that it might be repetitive, having years ago read (and loved)David McCullough's book Mornings on Horseback. Such a worry was unnecessary. Edmund Morris' book went much further in depth. I completely know now Theodore's personality. I know what he would do and what he would most probably say in a given situation. This author had me laughing at some of the things Theodore had the nerve to say and do! His ego was rather inflated, to say the least, but that doesn't mean I didn't also find him highly worthy of admiration.
Gosh, I have never run into someone with so much energy. Absolutely never. Please read the comments left below this review if you want more details of some of the events in this book. I should say that not a word have I mentioned about Theodore's "Rough Riders" of 1898 and his role in the Spanish-American War. You simply must read the book to find out about that! It is engaging and amazing and funny! This author made some of the events of that war hilariously amusing! Is that possible? Yes!
I honestly cannot think of anything to complain about in relation to this book OR its narration by Mark Deakins. OK, only one thing, and it is so very minor that it is pitiful. The narrator would read the date July 1, 1900, as "July one 1900" rather than "July first 1900". THAT is the only puny complaint I can think of. I compared Deakins narration to the Theodore's own speeches found on Utube. Deakins perfectly bit off and spit out his words, as Theodore learned to do in his fight against asthma.
If you are in the least interested in Theodore Roosevelt, then read this book.....even if it is very long! I will soon be reviewing the next in the trilogy to see if it too is as amusing and interesting and engaging as this one as proved to be! In fact you do not even have to be interested in reading about presidents to choose this book. He is an amazing person. I have never run across someone like this.
I have listened to about 3/4 of the book. I am thoroughly enjoying it. By that I mean sometimes I feel like clobbering Theodore and then later I want to hug him. He has qualities that are m-a-g-n-i-f-i-c-e-n-t. I like that this author has shown me both sides to such a degree that I hate him and love him. In the comments below this review I have gone into details. If you are looking for more details, please check them out there. Really good book and really good narration by Mark Deakins. Yes, this is long, over 26 hours and only the first of a trilogy, but well worth every minute.
My first impressions:
Once you get beyond the prologue, this book grabs your attention. I do understand that the purpose of the prologue is to show the outstanding characteristics of the man, but it throws in names and details that have no depth. That is impossible in a prologue; that is why you are reading the book, and this is the first of a trilogy on Theodore Roosevelt. The next, Theodore Rex, covers his two terms as president. Colonel Roosevelt concludes his life story.
What you immediately draw from the prologue is the energy of the man. In 1907 in the White House he shook hands with all those invited to say: “Happy New Year!” Quickly, at the speed of 50 per minute. (Skeptical me….is that possible?) He set a record with this, no one else for a century shook hands so quickly and with so many. But what does this says about him? Think about it. What we immediately grasp from the prologue and then the following chapters on his youth is how the hyperactive youth develops into a man of strength and vitality. From a very young age he has serious bouts of asthma. His father takes him aside and discusses his physical disability. Theodore declares that he will conquer his body! “He will make his body.” His fight for survival shaped him and it strengthened him; it made him a fighter.
From the very first chapters we see the man who came to be a conservationist. He started his “Roosevelt Museum of Natural History”, to the disgust of family and servants. Smelly! He learned taxidermy. He had is head in a book, often standing on one leg that gave him the pose of a flamingo. He scientifically observes the world around him, and what delight he discovers when he finds that with glasses he can actually see the world around him. He had no idea the world could be so sharp. He wrote in a diary. He wrote letters. Many, many remain and they reveal his personality, his inborn humor. In a letter to an Aunt when he is on tour in Egypt he remarks, “I may as well mention that the dress of the inhabitants up to ten years of age is nothing! After that they put on a shirt descended from some remote ancestor and never take it off until their death.” He did like Egypt. He now had glasses and he scientifically observes and records all that he sees of the fauna. The birds, so many birds! But he is still an ordinary boy. He learns to box, to defend himself vis-à-vis peers. He groans over his father dragging them all off for a year in Europe.
How Theodore views his own illness is reflected in this quote from a letter sent to his father when he was a young teenager, alone with two siblings in Dresden. (His father thought it important to encourage his children’s independence.) Here are the lines:
I am at present suffering from a very slight attack of asthma. However, it is but a small attack, and except for the fact that I cannot speak without blowing up like an abridged edition of a hippopotamus, it does not inconvenience me much. We are now studying hard. Excuse my writing; my asthma has made my hand tremble awfully. (chapter 2)
He views even himself with humor. The importance of books, his interest in fauna, his asthma and his staunch character are all evident in these lines.
The prologue was too stuffed, although I do understand its purpose, but then the book takes off with delightful details of Theodore’s youth, the characteristics he was born with and the events that shaped him. This book starts well. I hope it continues so. I just had to tell someone.
I guess I should have known that politics would be an integral part of this book. There is alot of it in this story.
I really like reading about Victorian society and the lives of the financially prividgeled.
There are some things about T Roosevelt that I do NOT admire (but few). For example, his passion for hunting seems to confilct with his conservation ideology and admiration of natural history. Why rush to kill the last of a dying species? I don't have a beef with hunters (have hunted myself), but just those like TR that see a dwindling species as an ephemeral opportunity to kill something before it is gone.
His experience in the west and with the Rough Riders was good reading.
Overall a good book with excellent narration.
I ENJOY BIOGRAPHY AND NON-FICTION. I LIKE TO LEARN FROM STORIES.
This ranks as one of the best reads. TR was such an accomplished, talented man. I wonder if our society can produce another one of such high moral character.
River of Doubt- also about TR, also an excellent, compelling read!
Very strong, full of forward momentum.
Entertaining, enlightening, interesting
I'd say that "Teddy" fellow was a good one. Teddy... something.
I have not, but I just started listening to Theodore Rex and the narrator on that one, while good by normal standards, is blown away by Mark Deakins' fantastic narration. It almost made me sad to listen to anybody else, especially when I don't get to hear Roosevelt's quotes in an impression of his voice.
"What if you were born with everything and then made the most of it?"
This book was so thoroughly researched it makes my head spin. I can't even fathom all the work Edmund Morris must've done, but he cites letter after letter, account after account, reliable source upon reliable source to weave together a thoroughly entertaining and wonderful story.
American patriot, veteran, historical researcher and writer.
First of all let me say that Mark Deakins did an excellent job of giving Theodore Roosevelt voice. Superb job! I like details, and the thoroughness and detail by Edward Norris gave me all that I could ask for. Certainly I am ready for the next chapter in the three books Mr. Norris so masterfully crafted about this true American icon, and much revered and respected man of the world. Colonel/President Theodore Roosevelt was a man's man, and the telling of his story left me truly inspired.
Good book that manages to show the details of Roosevelt's life without either slipping into hagiography nor the type of historical criticism that can only come from many years of hindsight. (You see some of his warts and such, but they're kept in their proper proportion and context.)