The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

Book - 2010 | Random House 2010 hardcover ed.
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Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time

Thirty years ago, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. A collector''s item in its original edition, it has never been out of print as a paperback. This classic book is now reissued in hardcover, along with Theodore Rex , to coincide with the publication of Colonel Roosevelt , the third and concluding volume of Edmund Morris''s definitive trilogy on the life of the twenty-sixth President.

Although Theodore Rex fully recounts TR''s years in the White House (1901-1909), The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt begins with a brilliant Prologue describing the President at the apex of his international prestige. That was on New Year''s Day, 1907, when TR, who had just won the Nobel Peace Prize, threw open the doors of the White House to the American people and shook 8,150 hands, more than any man before him. Morris re-creates the reception with such authentic detail that the reader gets almost as vivid an impression of TR as those who attended. One visitor remarked afterward, "You go to the White House, you shake hands with Roosevelt and hear him talk--and then you go home to wring the personality out of your clothes."

The rest of this book tells the story of TR''s irresistible rise to power. (He himself compared his trajectory to that of a rocket.) It is, in effect, the biography of seven men--a naturalist, a writer, a lover, a hunter, a ranchman, a soldier, and a politician--who merged at age forty-two to become the youngest President in our history. Rarely has any public figure exercised such a charismatic hold on the popular imagination. Edith Wharton likened TR''s vitality to radium. H. G. Wells said that he was "a very symbol of the creative will in man." Walter Lippmann characterized him simply as our only "lovable" chief executive.

During the years 1858-1901, Theodore Roosevelt, the son of a wealthy Yankee father and a plantation-bred southern belle, transformed himself from a frail, asthmatic boy into a full-blooded man. Fresh out of Harvard, he simultaneously published a distinguished work of naval history and became the fist-swinging leader of a Republican insurgency in the New York State Assembly. He had a youthful romance as lyrical--and tragic--as any in Victorian fiction. He chased thieves across the Badlands of North Dakota with a copy of Anna Karenina in one hand and a Winchester rifle in the other. Married to his childhood sweetheart in 1886, he became the country squire of Sagamore Hill on Long Island, a flamboyant civil service reformer in Washington, D.C., and a night-stalking police commissioner in New York City. As assistant secretary of the navy under President McKinley, he almost single-handedly brought about the Spanish-American War. After leading "Roosevelt''s Rough Riders" in the famous charge up San Juan Hill, Cuba, he returned home a military hero, and was rewarded with the governorship of New York. In what he called his "spare hours" he fathered six children and wrote fourteen books. By 1901, the man Senator Mark Hanna called "that damned cowboy" was vice president of the United States. Seven months later, an assassin''s bullet gave TR the national leadership he had always craved.

His is a story so prodigal in its variety, so surprising in its turns of fate, that previous biographers have treated it as a series of haphazard episodes. This book, the only full study of TR''s pre-presidential years, shows that he was an inevitable chief executive, and recognized as such in his early teens. His apparently random adventures were precipitated and linked by various aspects of his character, not least an overwhelming will. "It was as if he were subconsciously aware that he was a man of many selves," the author writes, "and set about developing each one in turn, knowing that one day he would be President of all the people."

Alternative Title: Theodore Roosevelt
Publisher: New York : Random House, 2010.
Edition: Random House 2010 hardcover ed.
ISBN: 9781400069651
Characteristics: xxxiv, 920 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.


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LRS1969 Jun 25, 2015

Actually my complaint isn't with the book as much as with some reviewers who turn to "creative non fiction" in trying to give the best Conservative slant on one of our most PROGRESSIVE presidents (one who left the Republican Party to form his own Third Party as the Republican leadership shifted away from Progressivism and toward Big Business with Taft in a road that ultimately led to Hoover and the GREAT DEPRESSION)!!!

Conservatives oh so much want "Teddy" to be one of their own. But he absolutely was not. Aside from numerous other (better) biographies, TR himself wrote autobiography books (where he indicated that he detested the nickname Teddy and was very proud of being known as The Trust Buster). And then there's that prickly issue about him leaving the Republican Party to form a Third Party when the Republicans began jumping into the pockets of Big Corporate interests. And then on top of that one simply has to read TR's quotes about the evils of the Trusts (monopolies and huge corporations).

Also, he was POTUS only through election ONCE. He became the 25th President with the assassination of McKinley in 1901 and then elected in 1904 (his second elected attempt was via the Progressive Party - real name of "The Bull Moose Party", which history makes sure we know that name, not that it was actually the PROGRESSIVE Party).

I make this review with the understanding that TR was one of my favorite presidents; probably one of the top three. But specifically because of his PROGRESSIVE policies and attitude.

BTW, one will find a handful of areas where there are some noticeable errors in the book. I think that in writing something so comprehensive that gaps were going to occur and notes not be found... but if TR says something and Morris said something else, well I'm going to take TR's version as written roughly at that time (not in 1979).

Oct 28, 2014

A most interesting president, and Morris' recounting of his intellectual propensities is very interesting, but what I gathered from reading this is that Teddy Roosevelt was forever the patrician at heart and never really did any trust busting. [In today's vernacular, TR lived large!]

Aug 19, 2013

This book is the perfect combination of expert biographer, splendid pacing and fascinating subject matter. Love him or hate him, T.R. was without a doubt the most intriguing POTUS our country has seen. This is the first of Morris' trilogy on Roosevelt. A deserved winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this page turning biography reveals a polymath, a renaissance man, Congressional Medal Of Honor recipient, true conservationist, world traveler, big game hunter, prolific author, and oh yeah, two term POTUS. Here is a man who overcomes incredible odds as a sickly child who eventually licks life-threatening asthma through exercise and boxing, a man who lost his first wife and mother on the same day among other things,
to take a prominent place of influence in practically every area of New York politics from Albany as a lawmaker to the city of New York as the Commissioner of the police board to President. A DEE-lightful read!

Apr 09, 2013

A nice read, showed a lot about the man who would be President, his ups and downs. He put a lot into his first 42 years!!!

Feb 09, 2013

Has there ever been a more colorful POTUS than TR? Morris does a great job of chronicling his life until McKinley is shot. The narrative bogs down a little in New York politics but an otherwise fascinating read.

Feb 22, 2011



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