Of all our great presidents, Theodore Roosevelt is the only one whose greatness increased out of office. When he toured Europe in 1910 as plain “Colonel Roosevelt,” he was hailed as the most famous man in the world. Crowned heads vied to put him up in their palaces. “If I see another king,” he joked, “I think I shall bite him.”
Had TR won his historic “Bull Moose” campaign in 1912 (when he outpolled the sitting president, William Howard Taft), he might have averted World War I, so great was his international influence. Had he not died in 1919, at the early age of sixty, he would unquestionably have been reelected to a third term in the White House and completed the work he began in 1901 of establishing the United States as a model democracy, militarily strong and socially just.
This biography by Edmund Morris, the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award–winning author of The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt and Theodore Rex, is itself the completion of a trilogy sure to stand as definitive. Packed with more adventure, variety, drama, humor, and tragedy than a big novel, yet documented down to the smallest fact, it recounts the last decade of perhaps the most amazing life in American history. What other president has written forty books, hunted lions, founded a third political party, survived an assassin’s bullet, and explored an unknown river longer than the Rhine?
©2010 Edmund Morris; 2010 Random House Audio
Praise for the classic biographies by Edmond Morris: “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 for Pulitzer Winner Rise of Theodore Roosevelt)
“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, on Theodore Rex)
Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th US president. There are several charts ranking the US presidents and in all that I have seen he places fourth or fifth from the top. Lincoln, Washington and FDR, they are the ones that sit at the top. Jefferson and Theodore vie for the fourth position depending on which chart you look at. Maybe for this reason I can convince you to read this trilogy, written by Edmund Morris. This book is the last of the trilogy. In my view they must all be read together. The trilogy reads like one book. Although the last does cover previous incidents in his life, it does this summarily with the assumption that you have read the previous books. To understand the true marvel of the man you must read all three books, which are in chronological order. It is in the details that you learn of his character. For me it is his character, not only his deeds as President, which makes him such a remarkable person. This is the second, and I believe the strongest reason, to read these books, ie to meet the man. At the end, when I knew he would die soon, I was in tears. Well, my eyes were damp, but I do not cry when I read sad books. What a man! A vituperative bully and a pain in the butt, but moral and hardworking and a cyclone of energy, and he always tried to do the right thing….. even if it wasn’t to his own advantage.
The first two books had little about his relationship with those in his family. That you find in this book, in good measure! His charting of the Amazon is found in this book too. In addition, you are given fascinating details concerning WW1. I believe that had he been president, rather than Woodrow Wilson, he may have been able to change the course of history. Just maybe. He was a tremendous negotiator, having received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in ending the Russo-Japanese War. He knew on a personal level almost all of the leaders.
There are paragraphs where I don’t understand the reasoning behind or the import of the lines or the conclusions drawn. Some words used are not the most typical, plenipotentiary rather than ambassador, is one example that threw me at first. Particularly if you are listening, there are parts where you must pay close attention and sometimes rewind. There are names and ideas quickly thrown at you, and the narrator who is excellent (Mark Deakins), speaks rather quickly. As I pointed out in my review of the first book of the trilogy, the voice he uses for Theodore is absolutely perfect! You can hear this for yourself by listening to the real Theodore on You-Tube. Deakins’ French isn’t perfect, but understandable. You hear that he is an American speaking French, and he does pronounce some of the French cities wrong.
I really did love learning about Teddy. You are making a huge mistake if you think this book is just too long and not worth your time. It is a delightful read, filled with humor and sadness…… and lots of interesting facts!
Thoughts while reading:
Read carefully the GR book description. Look what I have ahead of me. Marvelous! AND, yes, a bad narrator can perhaps wreck a good book. The narrator of the second book, Jonathan Marosz, really was terrible. The minute I start listening to this, the third volume narrated by Mark Deakins, I began laughing again. YAY for Mark Deakins! I enjoy good non-fiction books that make you laugh, that teach you and are so very interesting.
I just wonder, if Theodore had been re-elected into presidency in 1913, would he / could he have averted WW1? He was perhaps the only one capable of doing this. It is utterly fascinating to watch the lead up to the war. Colonel Roosevelt, as he was called after his presidency, was present at King Edward VII's funeral. Everybody was there. Fascinating. And damn I was laughing at what he says to the kings, leaders, dignitaries and even the Pope while in Europe in 1910.
I just want to say I am loving this.
This was an exceptional (and long awaited...though worth the wait) conclusion to Edmund Morris' Trilogy on Theodore Roosevelt.
Book is fantastic, I recommend the first two before reading (The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt and Theodore Rex).
Also, the narration is excellent.
The Trilogy is a must listen to for anyone even remotely interested in history, take the time to listen to the life of someone who could truly be referred to as:
"The World's Most Interesting Man..."
I have time to "read" the audio version during my commute, while the print version sits next to my bed as I fall asleep exhausted each night. I prefer hard copies, but in reality, the audio version is my only realistic opportunity for reading. I do enjoy the narration of Marc Deacons who reads books one and three of this trilogy.
Definitely. I like his style, vocabulary and cadence of writing.
I listed to "The Rise of Roosevelt" - the reading is excellent and on par.
I would definitely say that the material of the birth to presidency of Roosevelt's life is most interesting to me. His presidency, slightly less so, and his post-presidency is the least interesting. Nonetheless, this work brings closure to his life in a detailed manner not matched by other biographies I've read.
Audiobook addict with eclectic interests.
Narration and story were wonderful and do justice to such a fascinating historical figure at a pivotal point in the development of the United States.
Edmund Morris is a gift and offered us a gift in this treasured series. Theodore Roosevelt is arguably the architect of modern America and the consummate Profile In Courage. His life is also illustrative that we all live an immutable law of sowing and reaping in both good and hard ways. Roosevelt was bold and his boldness was rewarded. But Teddy was also a warrior and one of the greatest ironies of his life is that his youngest son, Quentin, was soon killed in the war that Roosevelt pushed then President Woodrow Wilson to fight. Read ALL 3 of Morris works.
Making my way through all the US President a biography at a time.
This final volume in the three volume series has as much energy and exciting TR stories as the first (and betters the second). With a level of unchecked righteousness not seen before, we follow the ex President on a progressive party creation which leads to his separation from the Republicans and many old friends. These friends were part of the check or grounding which ensured TR didn't act too foolishly but with them gone this story because at times embarrassing or self aggrandising. Two legal trials one as plaintiff and one as defendant. A South American worthy of its own book (which I see it has). And a champion of preparedness in pre War America. So much is a well captured in this book. One event is perhaps too foreshadowed in the latter chapters but it perhaps is fair in doing so as it is linked to his death.
Morris quotes an incident with TR son and a White House garden hose, which provides a summary of his approach in life. He believed the action (even the wrong one) was better than letting your opponent get the upper hand. Despite the length of these volumes I'd like to read more - perhaps his own writing which was impressive in volume and breadth - about TR.
Mark Deakins was an amazing performer of this biography far better than volume two's actor. The energy he gave really brought the book alive.
Fantastic account of TR's life after the presidency. I will very much miss my commutes with TR over the past 6 months as I listened to the trilogy. This last book is better than "Rex," but not quite as good as "Rise." - but that is partly because I love Mark Deakins and he did not do "Rex".
My assessment of TR was that he was somewhat delusional, but a genuine person who made things happen. I loved the last quote "a fulfiller of the best intentions." Well done Morris.
I read the first two volumes in print and find Morris an excellent writer and historian. I enjoyed Mr. Deakins reading of 'Colonel Roosevelt' very much and the audio format more than I originally thought I would. 'Teddy' is a fascinating individual, and Morris places him within his context very well, assiduously avoiding historical anachronism. Very highly recommended!
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