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Theodore Rex Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 20, 2001
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Morris combines a fine command of the era's big issues with an appreciation for the daily minutiae involved in governing a nation. Less controversially inventive, but no less readable, than the Ronald Reagan biography Dutch, Theodore Rex gives readers new reason both to admire and fault an American phenomenon. --Gregory McNamee
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
I found the recent David McCullough biography of John Adams as the closest comparable work. Both biographers rely a lot on the subject's own words and those of the people he interacted with. I found three qualities of Theodore Rex to be superior to the Adams biography. First, Mr. Morris has chosen to magnify issues that are of more interest to us today which are often virtually ignored in conventional histories. Some of these subjects involved Mr. Roosevelt's attitudes towards minority groups including African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Jews. Other related subjects included what he chose to say and do about discrimination and lynchings, willingness to address a pogrom in Russia, and atrocities conduced by the Army in the Philippines. Second, Mr. Morris doesn't try to "pretty up" the ugly sides of his subject. In these first areas above, President Roosevelt did some good things . . . but he also did some pretty awful ones. His support for bad conduct dismissals of African-American troops after complaints in Brownsville, Texas, was particularly questionable, coming at a time when he had little at risk politically by doing the right thing and he was outspoken in other areas. Third, Mr. Morris has an eye for detail that makes the scenes come alive to extend beyond the mere words and events being presented. I particularly enjoyed the description of Roosevelt's first few days as president.Read more ›
Here's something I decided while reading the book: if TR were alive today, he would have a weblog; the guy wrote hours everyday: articles, letters, books, speeches. Reminds me a lot of Churchill's prolificacy. Roosevelt's topics ranged from bird watching (and listening) to naval warfare. A voracious and multilingual reader, as well.
Author Edmond Morris , (despite his missteps on the Reagan biography, Dutch) is a tremendous storyteller. Roosevelt and his times provide excellent material for Morris's skills. I couldn't help drawing parallels with today, as Roosevelt's era (turn of last century) saw so many changes taking place in transportation, communication and technology. The roles of and relationships between government and business were also major issues as they are today.
There are parallels in his years in the White House with today's headlines like the Microsoft antitrust case and the imploding of Enron. Also some striking similarities to today's challenges militarily and geopolitically. Politics aside, Roosevelt is a fascinating historical figure. And did he ever know how to get a way from it all. Even though it is not mentioned in either this book or Morris's volume on TR's earlier life, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, I seem finally to understand why TR made it onto Mt. Rushmore with Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln.
Morris' research was just as impressive for "Theodore Rex" as it was for "The Rise of TR," using countless collections of letters, diaries, books by TR, and books about TR to paint the picture of his subject.
Unfortunately, and perhaps this is the result of the sheer quantity of presidential accomplishments by Roosevelt, Morris' work reads like a laundry list of activities, events, dialogues, and crises. I felt like I was reading TR's daily planner, with Morris' commentary added under each day's schedule.
To be fair, one would expect Morris' account of TR's presidential years to be more sequential and less anecdotal that his account of his pre-presidential years. That having been said, I've read many other presidential biographies that are not like this at all, that give the big picture of a President's term(s) in office and then get into the nitty-gritty of his major accomplishments and failures.
Of course, "Theodore Rex" focused only on TR's presidential years, so Morris didn't have to spend any time or space describing how Roosevelt's mind and soul were formed (he had already done so in "The Rise of TR.").
Given this challenge of having already written an account of TR's early years, Morris does an incredible job of researching his subject, and a good job of telling his story.
Morris's next book is the current one being reviewed, "Theodore Rex." This book covers his presidency, from the succession to the office on the death of William McKinley to his leaving office seven and a half years later. There is a great deal of detail about his life in office, his relations with his family and contemporaries, and the legislative issues that confronted him. The author, while pro-Roosevelt, isn't blindly so. There are instances in the book where he clearly disagrees with what the President did, and is critical of him in consequence. Most notable is the Brownsville Texas incident, where Roosevelt and the high command of the army decided that some black soldiers were guilty of rioting on the streets of that city, and the president decided to cashier the whole unit from the army without court martial or anything.
Other characters of the administration are well-drawn and interesting.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Enjoyed the writing from first book much better! Still very much worth reading though... Not enough stories about the real Teddy.Published 4 days ago by THOMAS LAMBE
The author does a fantastic job of capturing every aspect of the historical time of Roosevelt. The fact that he was able to gather all the information that he did is truly... Read morePublished 7 days ago by Racheal
Extraordinary writing and research on an extraordinary man. Who also had his faults and blunders. Amazing trilogy on the history of a man who had such an impact on the history of... Read morePublished 10 days ago by TH
Well researched and logically arranged, but dry. I did not read the first book in the series so perhaps the characters were developed in that volume. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Mark A Hofmann
I've read all three of Morris' TR biographies. All three are excellent history, entertaining, riveting. This vol. 2 makes clear that the parties exchanged identities. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Professor Joseph L. McCauley
A detailed look into the enter workings of an outstanding leader and a President that got things done. Great read.Published 27 days ago by Kenneth W Ortensie
In-depth yet entertaining tale of the political life of one of our greatest presidents.Published 1 month ago by DVS
Captures the political personalities and the events of what are a critical tipping point in the evolution of the US into a Great Power, all centered around one of the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer