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The American Churchill

  • Sep 12, 2011
Rating:
+5
With this volume, Morris closes his three-volume life of Teddy Roosevelt with a finality that will certainly enable it to endure as the standard general biography of TR for the next century.  

I was struck while reading this volume (see my review of the central volume Theodore Rex, which covered the Presidential years) of how much like Churchill Roosevelt was--dyanimic of body and personality, strongly divisive in political allies and enemies, alternately adored and rejected by those those who lead or elected leaders, and whose bounding breadth of knowledge and curiousity for life never left them alone or lonely.  It is interesting to learn in this volume, in fact, that TR in briefly meeting Churchill formed an instant dislike to him--perhaps because no room could be large enough to contain two so similar men.

I found the juxtaposition on pages 254 and 255 of Colonel Roosevelt (his preferred form of address after leaving the Presidency) a fitting summary of the man.  After losing the closely-contested 1912 election (as the third-party Progressive candidate in a four-man race), Morris (and Roosevelt) waste no time combing over the entrails to find portents--Roosevelt was too busy answering invitations for a lecture tour (including pioneering film footage) on his recently completed African safari.  Unlike politicians who seem empty shells who come to life only when in front of the camera, TR was always alive--and busy writing over 150,000 personal letters during his lifetime, Morris reports!

Enshrined in Mount Rushmore's stone as one of our greatest Presidents, it is hard to argue after reading how influential TR was as a former President both in American politics and world diplomacy.  While "what if" speculation is fruitless, one could wonder at the trajectory of American domestic growth, foreign might and the seemingly inevitable tumble of world political entanglements into the Great War if Roosevelt had not stepped down after serving his one elected term as president.  

However, by the time he ran and lost in 1912, and refused to run in 1916, while still a young man by most standards, his strenuous life (including his amazing Amazonian journey of discovery documented here and in Candice Millard's The River of Doubt) had left him a physically broken man.  While he stumbled to the finish line of life (somewhat pathetically seeking active duty but wise rejected by President Wilson), barely aged 60 and passing just after the Armistice that ended World War I, he continues to cast a strong shadow on the landscape we live in today.  And Morris's three volumes remain a powerful monument to a powerful, powerful man.

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More Colonel Roosevelt reviews
review by . July 26, 2011
This book competes the trilogy begun with 1979's "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt", and continued with "Theodore Rex", both of which I have read (although I find it difficult to believe that it has been 32 years since I read the first book!).      In this well-written book we learn of the life of Theodore Roosevelt after the end of his presidency. There is the African safari, the third party quest for the presidency in 1912, the trip to Arizona, the almost …
review by . January 09, 2011
About the reviewer
Todd Stockslager ()
Ranked #38
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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“Now withColonel Roosevelt,” announced theNew York Times, “the magnum opus is complete.” Morris’s balanced examination of the final years of Roosevelt’s life highlights the slow but inexorable waning of his political and, ultimately, physical power. Equally adept at political explication and recounting adventure tales, Morris injects new life, and even suspense, into some familiar stories with his wry, minimalist prose—perfectly suited to his subject’s volatile personality—and an abundance of rich detail grounded in meticulous research. Although theWall Street Journaltook issue with Morris’s political analysis, that critic still consideredColonel Roosevelta poignant and factual account of the 26th President’s post–White House years. A tour de force befitting its seismic subject,Colonel Rooseveltbrings this extraordinary trilogy to a triumphant end.
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Details

ISBN-10: 0375504877
ISBN-13: 978-0375504877
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Publisher: Random House

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