Friday, March 04, 2011

Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

I finished reading Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris in February. This is the third book in Morris' trilogy about the life of Theodore Roosevelt. A number of years ago, one of the people that I worked with asked what are my top five books. The list included The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, the first book in the trilogy. Since then, I have also read The River of Doubt [an amazing book!] and Alice [a biography of Roosevelt's oldest child].

Roosevelt became president at the age of 42. After serving two terms, he left office at the age of 50. Roosevelt only lived 10 more years; dying at the young age of 60. I have been fascinated about the arc of his life during those last 10 years and the fact that he died so young. This books covers that period.

In the ten years from 1909 to 1919, Roosevelt spent a year hunting in Africa, an extended period traveling and speaking on the European continent, formed a third party--the Progressive Party--and ran for president under its banner in 1912, traveled across South America and down the River of Doubt and was very involved in the politics of World War I. The last was a surprise. I did not realize that the last part of his life was so involved in the politics of World War I. All four of his sons and one of his son-in-laws fought in Europe in World War I.

I was also surprised how ignorant I was about World War I. While I think that I have a pretty good understanding of World War II after reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, I was unclear on the sequence of events surrounding WW I and America's role in the war. I am going to find an overview to read at some point.

I give the book a B+.  There are parts of the book were the author strays off into political and social philosophy that I did not find as readable as the biographical sections.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed finally filling in the gaps of the last ten years of Roosevelt's life.  Theodore Roosevelt led a truly remarkable life!

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