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Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris
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Theodore Rex (2001)

by Edmund Morris

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This is a thick book that included a lot of information about the Roosevelt administration. An excellent read if you have a lot of time on your hands and if you are a Roosevelt fan, if not then don't waste your money. ( )
1 vote klara333 | Mar 7, 2014 |
To read the first in Edmund Morris' biographical series on Theodore Roosevelt ("The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt"), one might be left with the feeling that it was inevitable that Teddy someday become President. Individuals from his German tutor while he studied abroad to those who came into contact with him while he fought policy corruption in New York City, not to mention the men who served with him in the Spanish-American War.

With "Theodore Rex," though, we see a man who is thrust into the Presidency without the opportunity to prepare mentally, as others had through the fire and course of a national campaign.

And yet, after a first term as Governor of New York, it became apparent that those who controlled New York's political machine would not allow Roosevelt another reform minded term. His name bandied around as a candidate for Vice President, Roosevelt was flattered, but convinced that he would be useless, bored, and stagnate. To Roosevelt, a man who above all was in perpetual motion, becoming Vice-President would doom him to irrellivence and uselessness. Unlike today, when Dick Cheney and Joe Biden have exercised greater responsibility and power than any Vice President in memory, the Office of the Vice President at the turn of the 19th century wasn't "worth a bucket of spit," at least to Roosevelt. It took wounded pride to change his mind--hearing that Senator Mark Hanna and President William McKinley did not want him on the ticket, he let supporters know he that he would serve if the Convention selected him.

Little did he know how short his term as Vice President would be. In the ides of September, President McKinley was shot by an assassin and Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th President of the United States.

That's almost before the book even gets started.

Morris' writing is, as in the first book in the series, novel-like. Theodore strides through his world like a giant, negotiating peace between the Japanese and Russians, supporting the secession of Panama in order to obtain a shorter path for the Panama, building and sending the Great White Fleet, ending a miners strike involving a quarter of a million workers, appointing three Supreme Court Justices, including the great dissenter, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and hosting Booker T. Washington, the first time a black had been invited to dinner with a President at the White House.. Perhaps the only difference between this and the first book is that in feeling. Where the first tells was the life of an ambitious adventurer, "Theodore Rex" is the story of a man under constant scrutiny, on whom the stakes are significantly increased. At times I couldn't help but wonder if it was also the change in the type of documents that Morris is able to rely upon, utilizing more official and government documents than in "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt."

Ultimately, "Theodore Rex" is a fascinating look at one of America's most ambitious, most popular, and most effective Presidents. Coming to power at at time when American power and wealth was growing and as yet unfathomed, Roosevelt took every advantage given to him to expand American power and influence. Morris' "Theodore Rex" is entertaining, education, and compelling, especially for a Presidential biography. ( )
1 vote publiusdb | Aug 22, 2013 |
This is excellent. Theodore Roosevelt is one of the most complex, intriguing and ultimately enigmatic characters in American history. HIs larger than life persona and tendency to active exploits masks his thoughtfulness, and deep intellect. Morris does an excellent job of sorting through the mass of data thrown off by this one-man hurricane and providing a clear narrative of the important themes and events of this slice of Roosevelt's life.

This is helped by his decision to follow many different threads chronologically. Rather than have a section on the Panama Canal, another on financial policy, another on foreign policy, etc., all these are interleaved, along with many others. This gives an idea of what it was like for those living with Roosevelt, to have all kinds of different things going on around them all the time. It also helps to bring depth to Roosevelt's character, because he dealt with all this and much more, usually deftly.

Two things struck me. First, the racial politics. I was amazed at how often this was a real issue. Partly, this was because the Republican party of Roosevelt's time was dependent on black votes, and yet white Southerners were an powerful block in Congress. It was really surprising to me how often these two political realities came into conflict.

Second, there is an incident where the US almost went to war with Imperial Germany, and only Roosevelt's tact and quick thinking averted this. Historians have flatly said that he lied about this, until very recently, when previously classified and secret documents from multiple sources have come to light. I have another Roosevelt book in my queue, The River of Doubt. The cover copy mentions that many contemporaries flatly refused to believe his adventure and said that he lied, until recent studies have verified his account. It's amazing to me that, given Roosevelt's history and character, so many people have been so willing to dismiss his statements. How many other presidents have been so insulted, and then vindicated? ( )
1 vote teckelvik | Jul 23, 2013 |
Theodore Roosevelt – what a guy!!! A whirlwind . A remarkable individual way, way, way ahead of his time. I recommend reading this book to those of you interested in all the details of his presidency AND to those of you who like reading about exceptional human beings. I cannot think of any other person at all similar. You must of course start with the first book of the trilogy: The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. This is the second and I am off to read the third: Colonel Roosevelt. I know they are long, but they are worth it.

Should I list some of the remarkable things Theodore achieved during his presidency? Is that what you want to know? The Panama Canal, the Pennsylvanian coal strike settlement, negotiations to end the Russo-Japanese War and the Moroccan crisis of 1906 for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize, the National Conservation Conference and anti-trust legislation, to name but a few. By reading the book you will understand the magnitude of each accomplishment. You will understand how he pulled off these accomplishments and why he chose to do what he did. Who is Theodore Roosevelt? How did his mind tick? Was he brave? Was he moral? Was he impetuous? Yes, yes, yes! Did he make mistakes? Of course! Perhaps Brownsville was one. Read and judge for yourself.

Please read this book. You will be astounded by the exuberance of this man, by his intelligence and his morals. More than just discovering what he did you will discover how this man was under the surface. He is complicated. How could he be both a hunter and a conservationist? How did he balance might versus right, wealth versus labor’s demands? I cannot adequately explain how he looks on African-Americans. I’d have to write a book to explain this accurately, but that is not necessary since you have this book. You end up understanding not only what he did but who he was. Now, in the final book Theodore is off on a safari to Eastern Africa. I will be accompanying him and his son Kermit. What a guy! I don’t want to leave him.

I think this book isn’t quite as good as the first. I wanted to know more about his familial relationships, about his wife and children. There is a bit, but not enough. Maybe that is not the author’s fault. There is little information. Edith was reserved. Letters were destroyed. Privacy was kept. Or maybe I will get this in the next volume? I know that the narration by Nathan Marosz really made it difficult at times to pay attention to the words being read. His voice has a terrible sing-song lilt. He drew out in length the final words of a sentence. Then he pauses; it sounds terribly condescending! In any case the narration is completely inappropriate for Theodore who is known to have bitten off his words, spitting them out in a sharp staccato manner. Marosz mispronounces not only French, but German and even English words too. As you follow the amusing lines of the author, you can hardly appreciate the humor, the narration is so distracting. OK, Marosz did have me laughing, not at the author’s lines, but at the bizarre mispronunciations. Wait till you hear how he says the words liqueur, and Steiff (the stuffed teddy bears) and Slav. There was one French name that I was totally incapable of deciphering. Thankfully, both the first and the third books of the trilogy use the narrator Mark Deakins, and he does a magnificent job. Many times lines were read twice, but this, of course, is not the narrator’s fault. I kind of think it was the narration that made it so impossible for me to really enjoy this book as I should have, but at times I did feel just a little bit bored. My advice? If you cannot get the second volume narrated by Mark Deakins, read the paper book instead! You simply cannot hop over any of the books. They should be read together. ( )
2 vote chrissie3 | Jun 26, 2013 |
It's not often one closes a monumental tome wanting more, but then, TR was the sort of president voters wanted to keep in office. Morris covers Roosevelt's personal, political and physical activities from 1901 - 1908 with grace and breadth. Turning to the next of Morris's TR books, Colonel Roosevelt, as soon as I post this review. ( )
1 vote nmele | Apr 6, 2013 |
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THE0D0RE ROOSEVELT became President of the United States without knowing it, at 2:15 in the morning of 14 September 1901.
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'It is necessary patiently to wait,' Bunau-Varilla replied, 'until the spring of the imagination of the wicked is dried up, and until truth dissipates the mist of mendacity.'
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0812966007, Paperback)

In this lively biography, Edmund Morris returns to the gifted, energetic, and thoroughly controversial man whom the novelist Henry James called "King Theodore." In his two terms as president of the United States, Roosevelt forged an American empire, and he behaved as if it was his destiny. In this sequel to his Pulitzer Prize-winning biography The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Morris charts Roosevelt's accomplishments: the acquisition of the Panama Canal and the Philippines, the creation of national parks and monuments, and more. "Collaring Capital and Labor in either hand," Morris writes, Roosevelt made few friends, but he usually got what he wanted--and earned an enduring place in history.

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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:01 -0400)

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"The most eagerly awaited presidential biography in years, Theodore Rex is a sequel to Edmund Morris's classic best-seller The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. It begins by following the new President (still the youngest in American history) as he comes down from Mount Marcy, New York, to take his emergency oath of office in Buffalo, one hundred years ago." "A detailed prologue describes TR's assumption of power and journey to Washington, with the assassinated President McKinley riding behind him like a ghost of the nineteenth century. (Trains rumble throughout this irresistibly moving narrative, as TR crosses and recrosses the nation.) Traveling south through a succession of haunting landscapes, TR encounters harbingers of all the major issues of the new century - Imperialism, Industrialism, Conservation, Immigration, Labor, Race - plus the overall challenge that intimidated McKinley: how to harness America's new power as the world's richest nation." "Theodore Rex (the title is taken from a quip by Henry James) tells the story of the following seven and a half years - years in which TR entertains, infuriates, amuses, strong-arms, and seduces the body politic into a state of almost total subservience to his will. It is not always a pretty story: one of the revelations here is that TR was hated and feared by a substantial minority of his fellow citizens. Wall Street, the white South, Western lumber barons, even his own Republican leadership in Congress strive to harness his steadily increasing power."--BOOK JACKET. 10… (more)

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