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Colonel Roosevelt

by Edmund Morris

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Morris' Theodore Roosevelt (3)

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1,2552011,271 (4.11)40
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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» See also 40 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
So I am a moron. I had no idea there were two other books before this one. I felt like I got plopped into Theodore Roosevelt's life and felt confused. Once I realized that I was on the third book I felt better since I was all, why is the book acting as if I read about Theodore Roosevelt before now?

I have to say though that my attention kept straying away while reading this. I thought that Morris does a good job of bringing Roosevelt out as a man who is out to explore Africa after completing his run as President after his second term. I just found most of the book to be a bit colorless after we have Roosevelt returning from Africa and hell bent on being the savior of the Republican party. This of course caused the great "schism" and the Bull Moose party of progressives emerged.

Morris does a good job I think of showing all sides of Roosevelt. He's not a saint, he's a flesh and blood man that at times refused to listen to those around him since he thought he knew best. The book also goes into his other expedition which led to him getting ill and then following him and his family through World War I. I just wish that the book had managed to keep my interest throughout. I don't know if this book should have been broken into two volumes, with volume I following Roosevelt before WWI and then after or what. I think there was so much going on with Roosevelt and his family at times I was left a bit overwhelmed and feeling like I had forgotten some things and having to go back to check myself.

I read this on my Kindle and was happy to see that the plethora of notes that Morris had actually worked. My big complaint though and why I stopped reading the notes after a while is that my book wouldn't take me back to the place I was in the biography. This books is ridiculous full of notes and the historian in me was happy to see them. But it sucked for me as a reader since I kept getting taken out of my place and had to scroll back to wherever I was. I also was happy to see the pictures and other illustrations that were included. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
The publication in 1979 of Edmund Morris's [b:The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt|40929|The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt|Edmund Morris|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1337019579s/40929.jpg|40514] heralded the start of a monumental multi-volume study of our nation's 26th president. Though sidetracked for a number of years by his assignment as Ronald Reagan's official biographer, Morris finally released his second volume, [b:Theodore Rex|40923|Theodore Rex|Edmund Morris|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388177930s/40923.jpg|210239], in 2001, which chronicled Roosevelt's life during his years in the White House. This book, which recount's Roosevelt's post-presidential years, provides a long-awaited completion to Morris's project. It bears all of the strengths and weaknesses of Morris's approach to his project, now on display in a chronicle of an eventful decade in an already active life.

Morris begins with his subject (whose insistence on being referred to post-presidency as "Colonel Roosevelt" provides the inspiration for the book's title) on safari in Africa, the first leg of a year-long voyage abroad. Designed to give his handpicked successor, William Howard Taft, an opportunity to flourish outside of his long shadow, Roosevelt's trip continued with a triumphal tour of Europe, one that the author recounts in meticulous detail. Returning to universal acclaim, he also confronted a divisive political scene, with the dominant Republican Party torn by increasingly acrimonious infighting between its progressive and conservative wings. After an initial silence, Roosevelt joined the fray, campaigning for a number of progressive Republicans in the 1910 midterm elections. Morris sees the defeat of these candidates as the first blow to his public standing, weakening him at a time when he faced growing calls from Progressives to challenge Taft for the 1912 Republican presidential nomination.

Increasingly disillusioned with his former colleague, Roosevelt entered the race in February 1912. Morris's description of his primary battle against Taft is one of the high points of this book, capturing all of the drama of a former president taking on his party's leadership. Though Roosevelt was the clear choice of the voters, the limited use of presidential primaries at the time and Taft's control of party patronage ensured Roosevelt's defeat at the national convention that June. Undaunted, Roosevelt bolted from the GOP and campaigned for the White House under the banner of the newly-founded Progressive Party. Morris eschews any analysis of the campaign in favor of a narrative that describes his travels across America, which ended with a dramatic assassination attempt by "a weedy little man" who claimed to have been urged to do so by the ghost of William McKinley. Despite the surge of sympathy the attempt generated, Roosevelt fell short in his effort, losing in November.

Financially weakened, Roosevelt turned to his pen and took to the road once more. After a trip to Arizona with his sons Archie and Quentin, Roosevelt embarked on what he viewed as his last great adventure - an expedition into the jungles of the Amazon. His journey proved difficult and physically demanding, with personality conflicts, a leg injury, and a recurrence of malaria taking its toll on the former president. Roosevelt's return coincided with the outbreak of war in Europe, leaving him chafing with inactivity as Woodrow Wilson first kept America out of war, then left the former president on the sidelines as he led the nation into it. By its end, Roosevelt nursed both the pain of losing his youngest son and an increasing range of physical ailments, a cumulative effect of decades of strenuous activity that left him dead at the age of 60 in 1919.

Morris recounts Roosevelt's life in vivid, occasionally even florid prose. He is a master of presenting the rich drama of Roosevelt's adventures, an easy enough task given the material he had to work with but well done nevertheless. Yet like his earlier volumes, this descriptive account comes with little in the way of context or analysis. There is little here to explain Roosevelt's broader impact on progressivism, his contributions of his journeys to natural history, or the importance of his participation in the preparedness movement. While this diminishes the utility of Morris's work as a study of Roosevelt's contribution to American history, it does not detract from the overall enjoyability of Morris's entertaining, masterful account. Combined with his earlier volumes, it is likely to serve as the standard by which Roosevelt biographies are judged for decades to come. ( )
  MacDad | Mar 27, 2020 |
Part of me wants to give _Colonel Roosevelt_ 5 stars. This is part of one of the great modern biographies, and TR was an incredibly interesting man. I guess that I'm subtracting some because of the amount of time spent in the book on TR's trips through Brazil and Africa; I'm fascinated to know that he took such trips, but I suppose I didn't want to read quite so much about them. Just not my thing.

Roosevelt is inspiring because of his energy, his brilliance, his generally progressive instincts, his almost-crazy dynamism, but this book also has its elements of pathos -- Roosevelt's rapid decline after his run for the Presidency in 1912, the death of his son, the breaking of his heart.

All in all, a really good book that I would recommend to anyone interested in American history or great men/people or biography in general. But I would start with Morris' _The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt_. ( )
  Robert_Musil | Dec 15, 2019 |
One of the best biographies I've read, interesting, moving. ( )
  ibkennedy | Nov 11, 2017 |
Even the endnotes provide many interesting details that could well have been included in the main text. A grand concluding third volume to Morris’s life of Teddy Roosevelt. ( )
  dypaloh | Oct 28, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (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.
 

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Edmund Morrisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bordwin, GabrielleCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Deakins, MarkReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lwoff-Parlaghy, Princess Elisabeth VilmaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
It has been observed in all ages, that the advantages of nature or of
fortune have contributed very little to the promotion of happiness; and that
those whom the splendour of their rank, or the extent of their capacity, have
placed upon the summits of human life, have not often given any just occasion
to envy in those who look to them from a lower station; whether it be that ap-
parent superiority incites great designs, and great designs are naturally liable
to fatal miscarriages; or that the general lot of mankind is misery, and the mis-
fortunes of those, whose eminence drew upon them an universal attention,
have been more carefully recorded, because they were more generally ob-
served, and have in reality been only more conspicuous than those of others,
not more frequent, or more severe.

-Samuel Johnson, THE LIVES OF THE POETS (1781)
Dedication
To Robert Loomis
First words
The kiss that Theodore Roosevelt longed for did not materialize when he stepped ashore in Khartoum on 14 March 1910.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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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