THEODORE REX by Edmund Morris


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In a sequel to the Pulitzer-winning biography of Teddy Roosevelt’s earlier years (The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, 1979), Morris celebrates his tenure in the Oval Office, lauding him as the most popular and energetic chief executive of the early modern era.

Morris views Roosevelt as the next great president to succeed Lincoln. While his predecessor, William McKinley, represented dour 19th-century values, Roosevelt was more akin to the industrialization that was turning the US into a global power. He was a dynamic reformer who acted first and asked questions later. The author runs through the many irons Roosevelt always had in the fire, using each to show how his personal magnetism, political canniness, intelligence, and force of will earned him a bevy of successes and almost no significant defeats. On the domestic front, Teddy mastered the art of the end run around his political enemies, disarming orthodox Republicans by arguing that they support his trust-busting initiatives or else face the chaos of labor uprisings and quieting labor by throwing them bones designed to least infuriate management. In foreign relations, his personal magnetism and Navy-enlarging policies earned him, and the country, the respect of the great powers. He fended off German encroachments on Venezuela, ensured that the Panama Canal became a reality, and negotiated peace between Russia and Japan. Morris also devotes much attention to Roosevelt’s physical exploits, which later influenced his conservation efforts. He was constantly climbing in Rock Creek Park, swimming nude in the Potomac, and boxing or practicing martial arts with members of his cabinet. To blow off steam he hunted, often in the South, where he was seen as too friendly toward African-Americans. Because Democrats receive little attention here, one wonders how Morris might have rendered their criticisms.

A boosterish rendering of a potent head of state.

Pub Date: Nov. 27th, 2001
ISBN: 0-394-55509-0
Page count: 864pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2001


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