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Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris
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Review forthcoming. FANTASTIC BOOK. ( )
  publiusdb | Aug 22, 2013 |
Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th US president. There are several charts ranking the US presidents and in all that I have seen he places fourth or fifth from the top. Lincoln, Washington and FDR, they are the ones that sit at the top. Jefferson and Theodore vie for the fourth position depending on which chart you look at. Maybe for this reason I can convince you to read this trilogy, written by Edmund Morris. This book is the last of the trilogy. In my view they must all be read together. The trilogy reads like one book. Although the last does cover previous incidents in his life, it does this summarily with the assumption that you have read the previous books. To understand the true marvel of the man you must read all three books, which are in chronological order. It is in the details that you learn of his character. For me it is his character, not only his deeds as President, which makes him such a remarkable person. This is the second, and I believe the strongest reason, to read these books, ie to meet the man. At the end, when I knew he would die soon, I was in tears. Well, my eyes were damp, but I do not cry when I read sad books. What a man! A vituperative bully and a pain in the butt, but moral and hardworking and a cyclone of energy, and he always tried to do the right thing….. even if it wasn’t to his own advantage.

The first two books had little about his relationship with those in his family. That you find in this book, in good measure! His charting of the Amazon is found in this book too. In addition, you are given fascinating details concerning WW1. I believe that had he been president, rather than Woodrow Wilson, he may have been able to change the course of history. Just maybe. He was a tremendous negotiator, having received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in ending the Russo-Japanese War. He knew on a personal level almost all of the leaders.

There are paragraphs where I don’t understand the reasoning behind or the import of the lines or the conclusions drawn. Some words used are not the most typical, plenipotentiary rather than ambassador, is one example that threw me at first. Particularly if you are listening, there are parts where you must pay close attention and sometimes rewind. There are names and ideas quickly thrown at you, and the narrator who is excellent (Mark Deakins), speaks rather quickly. As I pointed out in my review of the first book of the trilogy, the voice he uses for Theodore is absolutely perfect! You can hear this for yourself by listening to the real Theodore on You-Tube. Deakins’ French isn’t perfect, but understandable. You hear that he is an American speaking French, and he does pronounce some of the French cities wrong.

I really did love learning about Teddy. You are making a huge mistake if you think this book is just too long and not worth your time. It is a delightful read, filled with humor and sadness…… and lots of interesting facts!

Completed July 1, 2013

**********************

Thoughts while reading:

Read carefully the GR book description. Look what I have ahead of me. Marvelous! AND, yes, a bad narrator can perhaps wreck a good book. The narrator of the second book, Jonathan Marosz, really was terrible. The minute I start listening to this, the third volume narrated by Mark Deakins, I began laughing again. YAY for Mark Deakins! I enjoy good non-fiction books that make you laugh, that teach you and are so very interesting.

I just wonder, if Theodore had been re-elected into presidency in 1913, would he / could he have averted WW1? He was perhaps the only one capable of doing this. It is utterly fascinating to watch the lead up to the war. Colonel Roosevelt, as he was called after his presidency, was present at King Edward VII's funeral. Everybody was there. Fascinating. And damn I was laughing at what he says to the kings, leaders, dignitaries and even the Pope while in Europe in 1910.

I just want to say I am loving this. ( )
1 vote chrissie3 | Jul 2, 2013 |
Edmund Morris' final volume in his biographical trilogy of Theodore Roosevelt, Colonel Roosevelt, is a fantastic conclusion about this colossus in American history. Morris' writing is an easy read and his research top notch thus making this a wonderful book for students of history of any age. Though like the previous volume of this trilogy, Theodore Rex, the book seems to be stylistically divided in two with the first stronger than the second.

Beginning with a wonderful prologue describing T.R.'s African safari, the first half Colonel Roosevelt shows Roosevelt seemingly having all the power and prestige of the Presidency without being in office. His 1910 tour of European, including being the U.S. special ambassador at Edward VII's funeral, looks like a victory tour even now like it seemed to be then. However, upon his return home Roosevelt starts to become disillusioned with this chosen successor William Howard Taft. This disillusionment turned into disgust and Roosevelt aimed to unseat Taft only for the Republican establishment to prevent his nomination in 1912 resulting in a party split. Even acknowledging defeat Roosevelt campaigned hard to score the best showing every by a third party candidate, showing up Taft in the process.

After 1912 not only does Roosevelt seemed to decline, but so Morris stylistic prose. The second half of the book begins with the South American expedition that almost cost him his life, however it relating what happened Morris seems to give the reader an overview of what it about to happen to his subject and the style of the book starts to feel melancholy. While Morris shows Roosevelt's resolve to prepare the country for entry into The Great War, he also shows how Roosevelt was losing is once famous balancing between extremes. The death of Quentin heavily foreshadowed almost in league with the stylistic change, Roosevelt's own death.

The epilogue of Roosevelt's funeral followed by the course of his place in history along with short biographies on his wife and family, is welcome stylistic change as Morris looks over the course of nearly 90 years to see how Roosevelt's 60 year life is viewed and did so in great effect.

After the first two volumes of this trilogy it was hard for me to give this book only 4 stars, however the second half of Colonel Roosevelt saw seemed so much of a disconnected with the first half and the epilogue that it was jarring. This stylist change could have been all in my own head as I knew where Roosevelt's journey was taking him, but there did seem to be change especially in comparing the second half to the epilogue. However, as I stated in the opening paragraph Morris writing and his research are first rate and I can not recommend this final volume of his T.R. trilogy enough. ( )
  mattries37315 | Apr 20, 2013 |
Excellent conclusion to an excellent series about a very interesting figure. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
This is one of those books that just gets better as you go along. I listened to it on audio book and I was very impressed by the narrator, Mark Deakins. His knowledge and pronunciation of foreign languages (Spanish and French) was excellent. It was a joy listening to him.

What I really enjoyed about this book is that it was about Teddy Roosevelt's life after the presidency. It told about his trips to Africa and South America, as well as his continuing contributions to politics. I appreciate Edmund Morris' unbiased telling of TR's achievements as well as his failings. Morris described Roosevelt's sincere concern for people, his strong stand on issues of importance to him, and his shortcomings as a human, as well as his battles with his health. I was amazed at how prolific of a writer TR was as well as how many books he seemed to devour. How he made time for this with all of his other activities is a wonder to me. We saw the human side of him, but we also saw how hard he pushed himself to the point of almost being superhuman. This was a great book about a great human being. ( )
  gcamp | Oct 17, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
With “Colonel Roosevelt,” the magnum opus is complete. And it deserves to stand as the definitive study of its restless, mutable, ever-boyish, erudite and tirelessly energetic subject.
 
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This biography by the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author recounts the last decade of Theodore Roosevelt's amazing life.

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