“Now with Colonel Roosevelt
,” announced the New 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 the Wall Street Journal
took issue with Morris’s political analysis, that critic still considered Colonel Roosevelt
a poignant and factual account of the 26th President’s post–White House years. A tour de force befitting its seismic subject, Colonel Roosevelt
brings this extraordinary trilogy to a triumphant end.
*Starred Review* Morris completes his fully detailed, correlatively dynamic triptych of the restless, energetic, on-the-move first President Roosevelt, following The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (1979), the title self-explanatory in terms of its coverage of TR’s life, and Theodore Rex (2001), about his presidency. Now the author presents Colonel Roosevelt, the title by which Roosevelt chose to be called during his postpresidential years (in reference, of course, to his military position during the Spanish-American War). This is the sad part of TR’s life; this is the stage of his life story in which it is most difficult to accept his self-absorption, self-importance, and self-righteousness, but it is the talent of the author, who has shown an immaculate understanding of his subject, to make Roosevelt of continued fascination to his readers. In essence, this volume tells the story of TR’s path of disenchantment with his chosen successor in the White House, William Taft, and his attempt to resecure the presidency for himself. The important theme of TR’s concomitant decline in health is also a part of the narrative. We are made aware most of all that of all retired presidents, TR was the least likely to fade into the background. --Brad Hooper