The Rise Of Theodore Roosevelt / Edmund Morris

When I began this first book of Edmund Morris’ three-volume biography of Theodore Roosevelt, I knew that Teddy and I would be spending quite a bit of time together this winter. Fortunately, he is a fascinating individual to spend time with. Roosevelt from his earliest days was the kind of person who dominated whatever room he entered. In this first volume, Morris takes the reader through Roosevelt’s childhood up to the moment he learns that he has become President of the United States following William McKinley’s assassination. All the sides of Roosevelt are revealed in this biography. While a naturalist with a keen interest in preserving wilderness and wildlife, at the same time he was an avid hunter who took delight in tracking and killing big game animals. He also supplemented his inheritance and income as a politician by writing numerous historical books dealing with naval warfare and the settling of the American West.   A number of them became the definitive textbook on the topic covered. After the death of his first wife, he traveled to the Dakotas, where he became a rancher and won the admiration of the frontiersmen living on the fringes of society. Roosevelt was also a strong believer in Manifest Destiny and pushed for American expansionism. This led him to volunteer in the Spanish American War and take part in battles in Cuba. Above all else, he was a politician through and through. On his upward climb toward the Presidency, he served in the New York State Assembly, ran unsuccessfully for mayor of New York City, served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and was elected Governor of New York. Roosevelt was clearly a brilliant man, a born leader, and a person with strong opinions on a wide array of social and political issues. While I’m not sure I would have liked him if we had met personally, I cannot think of a more interesting character to spend this winter with. Thanks to Morris’ presentation, the physical presence of Theodore Roosevelt leaps off these pages. I’m eager to pick up Theodore Rex, the next volume in the set.

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