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T.R.: The Last Romantic Paperback – September 11, 1998
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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From Library Journal
Prolific Texas A&M historian Brands (Reckless Decade, LJ 11/15/95) makes his first venture into biography with this lengthy book on Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt's often tragic life?his first wife and mother died the same day under the same roof?is fully explored. Brands ignores neither the personal nor the political side of his subject, depicting Roosevelt as a romantic during his idyllic childhood; his grieving over the early death of his wife, Alice; the war in 1898; and his governorship and presidency. But as America's romantic era ended abruptly on the battlefields of France in 1918, Roosevelt's life ended as well. Brands uses Roosevelt's many personal letters to tell his story in a firsthand manner, resulting in the most comprehensive Roosevelt biography yet. As the centennial of the Spanish American War approaches, Roosevelt is once again in the news, and this excellent biography may well get its share of attention?and awards. Highly recommended for all libraries.?Boyd Childress, Auburn Univ. Libs., Ala.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Kirkus Reviews
Theodore Roosevelt emerges as considerably more than his toothy Rough Rider legend in this extensively researched, psychologically penetrating biography of our 26th president. Even as an asthmatic child, when he began to mold his mind with tales of heroes and his body with physical exercise, Roosevelt saw life as a series of struggles and achievements, according to Brands (History/Texas A&M Univ.; The Reckless Decade, 1995). In young adulthood, this quest for heroism redoubled with the death of his father, who set a near-impossible moral standard. T.R.'s Manichaean perception of the world gave him the moral confidence, energy, and charisma that endeared him to supporters, but it also led him to intemperate, even demagogic attacks on opponents (e.g., he accused Woodrow Wilson of ``criminal folly'' for not preparing the US more thoroughly for entry into WW I). Brands absolves him of what critics viewed as his hypocrisy, noting that Roosevelt's near-total incapacity for reflection and self-knowledge led him, for good and ill, to ignore legal and procedural obstacles (notably by fomenting revolution in Panama to get the canal built there). Brands also adeptly traces the effect of Roosevelt's romanticism on his private life, noting that T.R.'s grief over the death of his first wife was so intense that he almost never referred to her after she died and maintained a more distant relationship with their daughter, Alice, than he did with the children of his second marriage. Brands accords Roosevelt full credit for blazing a path for future presidents in assuming responsibility for the economy and international security, and for using his office's ``bully pulpit'' to goad the national conscience. Missing some of the brio of Edmund Morris's The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt and of the colonel himself, but a life that pays its subject the ultimate tribute of taking him seriously as an adult. (b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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T.R. Led this country onto the stage as a world power.
Brands is sympathetic, but even-handed in his assessments of Roosevelt's' strengths and faults. One easily accepts Brands premise that much of Roosevelt's life was spent over-compensating for his early frail health and is as amused as the author clearly is at Roosevelt's occasional macho antics.
Brands frequently quotes Roosevelt to good effect and provides some historical background. However, I would have liked to see more of a historical overview during T.R.'s two terms in office as President and especially his run for a third term at the head of the "Bull Moose" Progressive Party. This critical period of T.R. (and the Republican Party's) life does not come across in enough detail or context.
Overall, unless you're a T.R. buff or a die hard biography fan, I'd give this 800+ page book a pass. Much better to read his truly excellent biography of Ben Franklin, The First American.