Colonel Roosevelt, by Edmund Morris (Hardcover, 2010)|
(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you
want a hardcopy)
Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
An outstanding biography, this is the third in a trilogy. I have not
read the other two. Yet. After reading this one, I have put the other
two on my "must read" list.
Over the years, I have listened to audiobooks on Teddy Roosevelt (or related to TR)
and gotten biographical and historical information on him from other
sources. Much of my information on TR has come from books that
were not about him per se but in which his influence is discussed. Often
in these sources, he is caricatured as either an egotistical socialist
or as an energetic reformer of unbridled capitalism.
What emerges from this biography of Teddy Roosevelt in his last 10 years of
life is a picture of a man who is, like most other human beings, a
complex mix of contradictions. To understand TR's perspective, you
must understand the context in which he fought his political battle. It
is clear that Morris understands this context. Though seldom stated
explicitly, TR's motivations are often evident. Morris provided just
enough information to move the reader along.
Morris is apparently an obsessive researcher. And I don't say that
just because his bibliography took up 8 pages in tiny print. I say that
because went beyond simply relating the major facts to artfully
revealing the subtleties. Because TR was a fascinating individual and an
enormously prolific writer, there is plenty of material to draw from.
And that is part of the problem for anyone writing on TR; it can be
overwhelming to sift through all of the relevant material. Morris did
this, and then wrote a page-turner that has the feel of a novel.
If Morris is considering a sequel to this trilogy, I'd like to read
about the conflict between TR's surviving children and FDR. It amazes me
that FDR has somehow gotten a "golden boy" image from historians,
despite policies and behavior that put him on my Five Worst Presidents
Ever list (Warren G. Harding, also mentioned in this book, is also on
that list). That puts me firmly in the "TR's surviving children" camp.
The fallout from FDR's insanity is still afflicting us today. Perhaps
Mr. Morris will write a book that shows us the real FDR (not a good
image), just as he has shown us the real TR.
Another contribution Morris makes is not just to the literature, but
to our culture. Teddy Roosevelt had a profoundly positive influence on
the USA and on other countries. Understanding what TR accomplished and
why will help any citizen to better understand the real issues of today
(rather than the irrelevancies the politicians talk about).
I'm not sure how long this book is. I reviewed a prepublication
release. It has a lot of reserved pages. The total is 748, so the final
publication will be about 750 pages, give or take. The text itself is
593 pages. The book contains 28 chapters and an epilogue. The
prepublication prelease has several good photos it, too. However, it has
many spaces for additional photos and illustrations.