A vast and sprawling exploration of one of the most interesting presidents to ever serve in the White House, Edmund Morris’ trilogy of books (The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Rex and Colonel Roosevelt) explore Roosevelt’s life before, during and after his tenure as leader of the free world, from his childhood struggling with ill health, to his youth and travels around the world with his parents, and beyond to the tragedies of his adulthood that led him down the path to the White House. Throughout, Morris gives a very rounded portrayal of the man behind the legends, as well as providing the proper context of the world in which Roosevelt lived and how both it affected him and he affected it.
Morris’ writing is never dry and he has the descriptive eye of a novelist – some of the passages following Roosevelt into the wild or through the Amazonian jungles are fantastic. Roosevelt himself comes across as a flawed, brilliant man, able to command great loyalty but whose reluctance to release his hold on the Presidency forced a breach in his own party. It was amazing to realise how much Roosevelt did after he left the big chair – his subsequent runs ended up creating the Progressive Party and saw the Democrats win the presidency for the first time in decades.
All in all, Morris’ trilogy is the ultimate exploration of a president, full of wonderful writing worthy of the larger than life Roosevelt.
I gave all three books 4 stars.