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The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (Modern Library 100 Best Nonfiction Books) [Kindle Edition]

Edmund Morris
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (344 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.

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.”

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for the rise of Theodore Roosevelt

“Magnificent . . . a sweeping narrative of the outward man and a shrewd examination of his character. . . . It is one of those rare works that is both definitive for the period it covers and fascinating to read for sheer entertainment. There should be a queue awaiting the next volume.”
-W. A. Swanberg, The New York Times Book Review

“Theodore Roosevelt, in this meticulously researched and beautifully written biography, has a claim on being the most interesting man ever to be President of this country.”
-Robert Kirsch, Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Spectacles glittering, teeth and temper flashing, high-pitched voice rasping and crackling, Roosevelt surges out of these pages with the force of a physical presence.”
-The Atlantic Monthly

“Morris’s book is beautifully written as well as thoroughly scholarly-clearly a masterpiece of American biography. . . . Hundreds of thousands will soon be reading this book . . . and will look forward, as I do, to Morris’s second volume.”
-Kenneth S. Davis, Worcester Sunday Telegram


From the Hardcover edition.

From the Inside Flap

Described by the Chicago Tribune as "a classic," The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt stands as one of the greatest biographies of our time. The publication of The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt on September 14th, 2001 marks the 100th anniversary of Theodore Roosevelt becoming president.

Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
290 of 298 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "When the wolf rises in the heart..." March 16, 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Theodore Roosevelt... Harvard graduate, historian, New York state assemblyman; rancher, Civil Service Commissioner, New York City Police Commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy; Commanding officer of the "Rough Riders;" war hero; Governor of New York; Vice President, and then President of the United States. All of these accomplishments by the time this extraordinary man reached 42 years of age. Theodore Roosevelt's historical achievements are indeed most impressive!
In his Pulitzer Prize-winning biography "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt," biographer Edmund Morris masterfully chronicles the life of this mercurial, complex, and paradoxical man who became the 26th President of the United States.
Morris's brilliant narrative depicts Theodore Roosevelt as a man who towered over his world. Yet who would have guessed at future greatness for this, the oldest son of one of New York's wealthiest and most respected families? A sickly child, afflicted with constant bouts of asthma and chronic diarrhea, he is seen by his parents as a child "with the mind, but not the body..." for high achievement. But the young Roosevelt senses his own potential for greatness and resolves to strive mightily to achieve it...
Throughout his life, TR is a man of many paradoxes. Largely self-educated, he eventually attends Harvard University, from which he graduates magna cum laude in 1880 with a Phi Beta Kappa key in one hand and a membership in Porcellain, Harvard's most prestigious social club, in the other. The son of a wealthy philanthropist, he eschews the traditional, genteel, upper-class lifestyle in favor of the rough-and-tumble of New York politics. A member of the Republican party, he champions progressive reform.
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70 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Just a Great Biography, But a Work of Art June 25, 2002
Format:Paperback
Edmund Morris's "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" is a magnificent biography, perhaps the best I've ever read. In it, Morris follows the life of Theodore Roosevelt from his birth in a New York City brownstone in 1858 to his assumption of the U.S. Presidency in 1901. The book is the first of three volumes Morris plans to write on Roosevelt, the second of which --"Theodore Rex" -- was released last year.
In more than 700 pages of text in this book, there is hardly a dull page. The main reason for this, of course, is TR's fascinating, energetic life. He was -- in no particular order -- an amateur naturalist of note, a decorated soldier, an historian, a rancher in the Badlands, a government officer pushing for reform in the civil service, Police Commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, a state assemblyman, New York's Governor, and finally Vice President. It would be difficult to write a dull book about such a man.
But Morris deserves some credit as well. I've read several other biographies of Roosevelt, and while many of them are quite good -- even great -- this is the best. I believe Morris's style as well as his control of the material is the best explanation for this. Much of the writing is beautiful. Even Morris doesn't approach it in his other books.
But here Morris shows a poet's gift for metaphor and simile. In explaining how reserved, emotionally stunted men like Henry Adams, Thomas Reed, and Henry Cabot Lodge put up socially with the rambunctious Roosevelt, Morris writes they "...grew dependent upon [Roosevelt's] warmth, as lizards crave the sun." There are numerous examples like this in the book.
While "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" should probably be described as a political or historical biography, one doesn't need to have the slightest interest in either to enjoy it. Roosevelt's own ambition and energy, the circumstances of his life, and Morris's writing will drive anyone's interest.
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80 of 85 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This is a supurb researched biography of one of the most colorful, revered presidents of the 20th century. For anyone who has unfortunately grown cynical and tired of the political and social cliched diatribe of today's political figures and political system, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt will change all that and bring forth a new appreciation for what man and woman can achieve in government when they have conviction, determination and plain old guts. What makes this book so appealing is that it focuses not on TR's presidency, but rather it explores TR's youth, family upbringing and hobbies as well as his formative years with the famed Rough Riders... It also delves into the tragedies that he incurred on his path to presidential greatness, i.e. the death of his first wife and mother on the same day of two different causes. Morris does a splendid job detailing TR's time with Tammany Hall and Harvard, his joy of writing and literature as well as athletics. The language that Mr. Morris uses is immediate, personal and inviting, giving off a permeating aura that TR is looming over the reader's shoulder. Whenever I have failed with something and don't believe that I can rise from it, I think of TR and say to myself: "If TR can do it, so can I."
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This biography is one of the most thorough and enjoyable I have read. If there has been controversy over Morris' Reagan bio, at least it brought attention to this book. Morris drew a portrait of Roosevelt and his era and it came to life for me. I particularly enjoyed the description of the political scene of the time, especially the New York State assembly and further on to Boss Platt, Senator Hanna, and the other backroom operatives. Morris does not hide the negative side of TR, the snobbery, the hypocrisy, and the naked jingoism. As a Canadian, Roosevelt took Manifest Destiny to extremes and one sympathized with those who considered him a loose cannon. At the same time, this book shows his drive, energy, and his willingness to put himself face-first into anything, be it the Spanish American War, the unpopular anti-saloon enforcement in NYC, or any of his western adventures. I highly recommend this biography to anyone interested in history, Americana, or the times of the later 19th century.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
Extremely well written account of one of the most interesting individuals in US history. The book reads like an historical novel. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Tom Gibbs
3.0 out of 5 stars it makes me wonder if the author has some dislike of Bullock
Not a word about Seth Bullock, who was a lifelong friend of Roosevelt. They met when Roosevelt was a sheriff, and no mention of that either. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Red Dragon
5.0 out of 5 stars Ray Clifford, Ireland.
I like a book that goes into great detail, this is such a book. I would say this book would be in the top ten books I have ever read.
Published 3 days ago by Ray Clifford
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I like biographies, this one is very good
Published 5 days ago by Michael J Gormly
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book!
Fascinating history book of life and times of a great man!
Published 5 days ago by John Hanscom
4.0 out of 5 stars Very clear picture of the man's character
Enlightened to Roosevelts determined rise through politics, conviction to his principals, although many are outdated today, and his ability to compromise and maneuver - to an... Read more
Published 18 days ago by cjn
5.0 out of 5 stars Theodore Roosevelt was brilliant, industrious, principled, and...
This book covered Roosevelt's beginnings to the Presidency. It was a clear insight to a most ingenious man. I have always loved biographies, and this did not disappoint. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Mary Jo Purtee
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable Biography
This was nonstop reading for me and it provided an essential window into the life of this president, one that I had overlooked in terms of recognizing his influence in so many... Read more
Published 24 days ago by clsxmas
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it
It certainly provided an insight into the unusual character of Teddy. I'm looking forward to reading about his time in the oval office.
Published 1 month ago by Harry Wing
4.0 out of 5 stars Get to know Teddy
Good book - starting to dislike Teddy reminds me of Churchill but I liked Winston. Teddy is a one man killing machine and is ignoring his daughter
Published 1 month ago by slack
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More About the Author

Edmund Morris is one of America's best political biographers and journalists. He is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of biographies of Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. He lives in New York and Washington, DC.



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