TR's speed of thought and action, and his total command of all aspects of presidential leadership, from bureaucratic subterfuge to manipulation of the press, make him all but invincible in 1904, when he wins a second term by a historic landslide. Surprisingly, this victory transforms him from a patrician conservative to a progressive, responsible between 1905 and 1908 for a raft of enlightened legislation.
Interspersed with many stories of Rooseveltian triumphs are some bitter episodes - notably a devastating lynching - that remind us of America's deep prejudices and fears. Theodore Rex does not attempt to justify TR's notorious action following the Brownsville Incident of 1906 - his worst mistake as president - but neither does this resolutely honest biography indulge in the easy wisdom of hindsight. It is written throughout in real time, reflecting the world as TR saw it. By the final chapter, as the great "Teddy" prepares to quit the White House, it will be a hard-hearted listener who does not share the sentiment of Henry Adams: "The old house will seem dull and sad when my Theodore has gone."
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©2001 Edmund Morris; (P)2002 Books on Tape, Inc.
"Impeccably researched and beautifully composed, a dazzling portrait of the man....A book that is every bit as complex, engaging, and invigorating as the vibrant president it depicts." (Publishers Weekly)
This is the second part of Morris' three book series on Theodore Roosevelt(the third book is not yet written). Taken with part one, this is one of the best biographies that I have ever read or heard. Roosevelt was not only one of the greatest presidents of our countries history, but was also one of the most interesting and entertaining personalities our country has ever produced. A great book that could only be better when the first book is released unabridged, and when the third book is published.
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
A brilliant biography. IT is hard to separate my love of Morris' second Roosevelt biography from my love of TR. The book captures the dynamo-President's force, eccentricities, and political skill while also accurately capturing the politics of the time and the rise of America's global power. Occasionally a person enters the global stage with such energy, power, competence and audacity that it seems the earth moves for them and water separates. I can only think of a couple other leaders that capture the Nietzsche' Übermensch ideal (Napoleon, Fredrick the Great, Alexander, Caesar, etc) as well. Even when Teddy wasn't super, he was still super lucky.
I've had this book sitting on a shelf for years intending to read it. Now that I have finally listened to it, I can say it more than lives up to the promise of Morris' first volume on Roosevelt, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. I give the book itself five stars. The recording, however, has a nasty audio glitch on Part 2 from 02:46:56 to 04:05:16, interference in the form of scratching and blurring that is terribly annoying. So I would give the audio no stars, which averages out to 2.5 stars overall. This is not the quality I have come to expect from audible.com. I will try to contact them about it, but in the meantime, caveat emptor.
I would certainly buy another book from Morris, however I will avoid Marosz as a narrator. He has a horrible habit of drawing out random words much to long, speaks slowly and treats the text as if he is singing a song. Unfortunately, he seems to enjoy the sound of his voice more than the text he has been asked to read.
It helps me to better understand a period of American history that has been glossed over in all of my history classes, where we think of civil war, maybe a bit of the war of 1812, barely mention the Spanish American war, and then skip to WWI. This is very unfortunate since much of our current "Americanism" was originally developed during this period, as Morris shows.
No, he must be the worst narrator I have heard on audible.
Theodore Roosevelt – what a guy!!! A whirlwind . A remarkable individual way, way, way ahead of his time. I recommend reading this book to those of you interested in all the details of his presidency AND to those of you who like reading about exceptional human beings. I cannot think of any other person at all similar. You must of course start with the first book of the trilogy: [book:The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt|40929]. This is the second, and I am off to read the third: [book:Colonel Roosevelt|7993566]. I know they are long, but they are worth it.
Should I list some of the remarkable things Theodore achieved during his presidency? Is that what you want to know? The Panama Canal, the Pennsylvanian coal strike settlement, negotiations to end the Russo-Japanese War and the Moroccan crisis of 1906 for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize, the National Conservation Conference and anti-trust legislation, to name but a few. By reading the book you will understand the magnitude of each accomplishment. You will understand how he pulled off these accomplishments and why he chose to do what he did. Who is Theodore Roosevelt? How did his mind tick? Was he brave? Was he moral? Was he impetuous? Yes, yes, yes! Did he make mistakes? Of course! Perhaps Brownsville was one. Read and judge for yourself.
Please read this book. You will be astounded by the exuberance of this man, by his intelligence and his morals. More than just discovering what he did you will discover how this man was under the surface. He is complicated. How could he be both a hunter and a conservationist? How did he balance might versus right, wealth versus labor’s demands? I cannot adequately explain how he looks on African-Americans. I’d have to write a book to explain this accurately, but that is not necessary since you have this book. You end up understanding not only what he did but who he was. Now, in the final book Theodore is off on a safari to Eastern Africa. I will be accompanying him and his son Kermit. What a guy! I don’t want to leave him.
I think this book isn’t quite as good as the first. I wanted to know more about his familial relationships, about his wife and children. There is a bit, but not enough. Maybe that is not the author’s fault. There is little information. Edith was reserved. Letters were destroyed. Privacy was kept. Or maybe I will get this in the next volume? I know that the narration by Nathan Marosz really made it difficult at times to pay attention to the words being read. His voice has a terrible sing-song lilt. He drew out in length the final words of a sentence. Then he pauses; it sounds terribly condescending! In any case the narration is completely inappropriate for Theodore who is known to have bitten off his words, spitting them out in a sharp staccato manner. Marosz mispronounces not only French, but German and even English words too. As you follow the amusing lines of the author, you can hardly appreciate the humor, the narration is so distracting. OK, Marosz did have me laughing, not at the author’s lines, but at the bizarre mispronunciations. Wait till you hear how he says the words liqueur, and Steiff (the stuffed teddy bears) and Slav. There was one French name that I was totally incapable of deciphering. Thankfully, both the first and the third books of the trilogy use the narrator Mark Deakins, and he does a magnificent job. Many times lines were read twice, but this, of course, is not the narrator’s fault. I kind of think it was the narration that made it so impossible for me to really enjoy this book as I should have, but at times I did feel just a little bit bored. My advice? If you cannot get the second volume narrated by Mark Deakins, read the paper book instead! You simply cannot hop over any of the books. They should be read together.
...I really did want to like it. But having recently read Caro and Kearns Goodwin, I was expecting more insight as to who TR was as a person, not just a recap of his significant achievements and world events while he was in office. Theodore Rex comes across as more of a doctoral thesis than an biography: fact-filled and learned; but impersonal and lacking suspense. I learned a lot, no doubt, but I was sorely disappointed with the lack of detail on TR's thought processes, and what made him tic for the 7.5 years that he was the most powerful person on Earth.
Marosz has a voice for which many orators would kill. It is deep, smooth, and delicious like like a chocolate milk milkshake... And not the cheap ones you get from fast food joints - Marosz' voice is the Five Dollar Milkshake of voices. If I had a voice like his, my wife would force me to croon her to sleep every night... but only if I could change pitch every now and then, and that is a feat of which Marosz seems almost entirely incapable. There were times while driving down the road that I had to turn off the book because Marosz' monotonous tone nearly lulled me to sleep. Marosz sets up quotes with well-timed pauses, which is appreciated; but those are practically the only times the listener gets any break from the "Bueller, Bueller, Bueller"-esque droning. And, as with Morris' over-use of French throughout the book, I became just as annoyed with Marosz' "ejaculating" French phrases as though he were giving a tour at the Louvre. Please keep in mind, I am no anti-French-ite. I love escargot, Bordeaux, and French fries as much as the next guy. Foreign languages and culture make me smile. Marosz runs through French names and phrases without effort, to the point that I presume he speaks the language fluently. I am jealous. But where was that effort on the Spanish, German, Russian and Japanese names? I couldn't help but think he was showing off when he had the opportunity to use French, but made no effort whatsoever to learn how to pronounce the smattering of names from other languages. C'est une honte!
Morris is clearly an accomplished historian and I can only fathom the countless hours he put into this impressive compilation of historical facts and events. At times, however, I just couldn't help but feel like the book was over written. For example, I don't want to have to put down a book -- or in this case, pause the audio -- to stop and look up French words and phrases every 10 minutes. Okay: TR had some Frenchmen in and around his cabinet. Point taken. But I don't need a run down of every French dish he consumed over the course of 7 years. And, I especially do not need to references to anyone "ejaculating" words. Yes, I understand the word can be applied in different ways; but I would be "deee-lighted" if Morris would use a different word when he describes someone excreting a word.
All told, Theodore Rex is a phenomenal work of historical scholarship; but a rather boring story.
The reader was difficult. He is a slow reader. Once I figured out how to do it I listened to the rest of the book, about two thirds of it, in 2x speed without any noticeable loss of substance. The reader must also be fluent in French. The French is great but everything seems a little French or neuter. The French emphasis brings out the author's failure to translate some phrases but that may be my fault since I am not familiar with common French and Latin phrases. Perhaps it is because the reader of the first and third volumes is so good but the voice of this reader does not distinguish text from quote or from one person from another, something at which the reader of the other two is excellent.
Being the second in a triology, the book is necessary.
The production quality is difficult. The first and third volumes are very well done. In the other two, each chapter has its own audio file. This second one does not. The worst part is that there are more than 15 occasions when the audio repeats 5 to 20 seconds of the book. Once or even up to three times would be passable but over 15 was excessive.
Having read "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt", which is the first book in the series, I literally couldn't wait to get to this one. The first book ends on a cliffhanger: President McKinley has just been shot, and TR is about to be sworn in as President. His fascinating rise to power will be nothing compared to the presidency itself. A lot of unbelievable things happen: supporting a coup d'etat in Panama so that he can push through the Panama Canal Treaty, moderation of a financial crisis in Venezuela to avert war with Germany, and massive railroad reform, all the while courting/attacking the great robber-barons of the era. Great stuff, but I was left somehow wanting. I blame the reader 100% for this feeling. Jonathan Marosz reads in a slow, somewhat sarcastic monotone that makes fascinating events seem trivial. He also reads very slowly. There is no comparison between Marosz and Deakins, who narrates Volumes 1 and 3.
As before, the level of detail that Morris goes into regarding the side-players to TR himself, notably senators, ambassadors, kings, and wealthy tycoons is really the colorful backdrop for TR himself. As before, Morris paints TR as nearly perfect, and his missteps and outright manipulation of various senators and tycoons is spun positively. The way that TR destroys Mark Hanna and double-crosses the governor of New York, (which he helped elect) is fascinating, as well as his unbelievable destruction of Democratic opposition in the primary of 1904. If all this minutiae interests you, then this book is winner, no doubt about it.
Morris gives only minor mention to the major players in the "muck-racking" press, (just one chapter). If you specifically have interest in that topic, then you should listen/read a fascinating book called "The Bully Pulpit" by Doris Kearns Goodwin, which covers that period of the presidency in exhaustive detail.
I can't help but repeat that I really missed hearing Mark Deakins on the recording, and I was happy to see that he has been re-hired for volume 3. Obviously, you can't skip over this volume if you want to get the whole story, so this is a must listen, period.
As I mentioned in my review of volume one, I learned things from this book that I never learned in high school/college history classes, and this book will also teach you much about why the United States became "the police-man" of the world and how we, as modern citizens of the 21st century, have TR to thank (or denounce) for this. We don't even realize it, but his policies have direct, and immediate influence on our daily lives as Americans.
Morris does not make these connections at all. The book does not make commentary. It merely describes events, and leaves it up to us to evaluate how those events impact us.
As I was listening, I was also thinking and reflecting about how different this country would be if TR had not succeeded in doing the things he decided to do at the time.
if you have a long flight, a long drive, or a lengthy commute (I have all these), then this book is perfect.
Nice follow up.
The highly anticipated sequel to The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt.
I recommend this book, but suggest reading The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt first.
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