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!
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.