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T.R.: The Last Romantic
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T.R.: The Last Romantic

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  664 ratings  ·  42 reviews
In his time, there was no more popular national figure than Theodore Roosevelt. It was not just the energy he brought to every political office he held or his unshakable moral convictions that made him so popular, or even his status as a bonafide war hero—the man who led the Rough Riders up San Juan Hill in Cuba during the Spanish-American war. Most important, Theodore Roo ...more
Paperback, 928 pages
Published September 11th 1998 by Basic Books (first published 1997)
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December 2009

I think I may be a glutton for punishment--bookwise, that is, and at least where nonfiction is concerned. I seem to be developing a habit of picking up interesting-looking books that later turn out to be bad, unreadable, or merely uninteresting. It happened with Churchill, Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost its Empire and the West Lost the World by Patrick Buchanan: despite the obvious subtitle, despite the author (that Pat Buchanan), despite the warning bells that
Bill Simpson
Great book!! H.W. Brands really has a way of putting together a biography without it bogging one down in facts. I gained an increased understanding about Theodore Roosevelt I hadn't remembered after all the history classes I sat through in school. This was NOT a book that sang nothing but praises and left out the bad stuff. I felt that Mr. Brands was extremely honest and objective in his writing, allowing the reader to see the faults as well as the successes of this president. The next book from ...more
This tome is not for the timid - it is a beast, but worth every minute of it. The author provides a comprehensive view of TR's life. I think that Teddy was awesome, and this book gives him his justice.
Craig Earnshaw
I love Brands writing style, includes in the broad sweep of this fascinating man's life enough detail to make us feel that we knew him. I would love to sit down for a long dinner with Teddy.
Vincent Saint-Simon
Dear Sirs and Madams,

If you are considering a biography not written by Mr. Brands, you are in the act of doing yourself a grave disservice.


I really had no business reading this book. I had just started a new semester of grad school (hopefully my last), I currently have no prep period at school, and any spare time I have leftover I've been trying to catch up with my family. And yet, I saw this book at my parents and knew that I wanted to read it sometime, so I figured I would borrow it indefinitely until things started to slow down. From the moment I had it off the shelf, I guess it was inevitable that I couldn't resist taking a pee ...more
Murdock Hendrix
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
"In his time there was no national figure more popular than Theodore Roosevelt. (Book Jacket)

There were nuggets of interest for me as I skimmed these 800 pages but it was just too meticulous for me.

On an extended safari Roosevelt killed "eight other lions, eight elephants, thirteen rhinoceroses, seven hippopotamuses, twenty zebra, seven giraffes, six buffalo and scores of lesser mammals, as well as dozens of birds, from ostriches (two) and great buzzards (four) down to the odd duck and songbird
Wow, it's pretty clear that Brands hates Roosevelt ... anything good that Roosevelt did is clearly an accident, and not because of anything Roosevelt believed in, or any skill that Roosevelt had. It definitely reads like a post-Watergate revisionist work, where no politician can have any good in him or her, that everything is done because of an ulterior motive, and that all politicians are hugely flawed, and one must emphasize their flaws and dismiss their strengths. That's Brands' interpretatio ...more
May 29, 2008 Kendra rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Rose Ann Fennessy
This book takes a close look at T.R.'s childhood and the events that shaped his life (including the loss of his father, 1st wife, and mother) through his term as president and during his time as a former president (attempting to regain the presidency). It gives equal weight to his political life, examining how his personality suited him for politics and the events occurring during his young adulthood that propelled him into politics. This is the first book I've read about T.R., but I think it di ...more
Almost a life - turning book! Made me really think about what it means to have political courage, moral courage, and even just generally the courage to stand up for fairness. I consider this book to be a primer on what it means for a person to be a leader, whatever their chosen profession.
Eric Smith
This is probably the best one volume biography of Teddy Roosevelt and it is a very good book indeed. I have read three biographies by H. W. Brands so far and I put this one slightly behind his Ben Franklin and well ahead of his Andrew Jackson. In this book Brands calls TR "the last romantic" and makes the case that he had the swashbuckling attitudes of an earlier age, that he lived well into the 20th and became a kind of living antique. His presidency takes up perhaps one quarter of the book. TR ...more
Long, but funny, insightful, and seemingly objective, it was an enjoyable read to someone with no preconceptions.

To respond to many here who need to pay a bit more attention to their reading comprehension, it hardly stands to reason that the author 'hates' Roosevelt. He seems to have found an interesting lens through which to examine TR's actions. TR was a human despite all of those who would elevate him above that level. The author has enough perspective not to be too intimidated by his subject
Although I give this a four-star rating, I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone. It is a very long book that goes into a lot of detail of Roosevelt's life, which I enjoyed but I don't know if many others would. Overall it was a good read. I learned a lot about Roosevelt and American history during his lifetime. I've known that Roosevelt was an influential president, but I didn't know about all that he did to really shape America. I've read other reviews stating Brands is very critical of Roo ...more
Bill Simpson
This was actually the regular paperback edition of this book, but I couldn't find it from the selection provided.

I thought this was a great book! H.W. Brands gives an extremely fair representation of one of our nations most colorful men and presidents. Before reading I knew only vague things about TR, recalled from the deep dark corners of my mind. I enjoyed the factual aspects of the book, but also the personal parts that gave me an opportunity to see why TR became the person he became. It was
I thought Brands did a fantastic job of illustrating Roosevelt's forceful personality, especially with the anecdotes about TR's time on the ranch, and the excerpts from his letters to Alice, as well as in his dealings with the "bosses" who helped him get elected to his early public offices. Brands both humanizes and lionizes TR in this excellent book; and even though I may not have always agreed with TR's choices, I'm left with a great deal of admiration and respect for a man who possessed that ...more
I wanted to start my TR research with the biggest book I could find (theory being it would cover everything). This book is a monster at 800 pages. There is much about TR that is compelling enough for the casual reader; that said I imagine it would be difficult for said average fan to plough through the whole work. I loved it. I devoured a few hundred pages at a time and then read something else for a week or so and got back to it.
Virginia Albanese
This is my 26th presidential biography and is by far the best written and interesting. Holds ones attention and not full of minute detail of party politics. Gets to the essence of the man (truly an eogist) with antedotal writings taken from personal letters and books written by T R. The author respectfully makes fun of of some of T R's ways and at times surmises what he might have thought of a situation.
This is an enjoyable and informative portrait of a great American President. Much of what is right and wrong about the American Presidency and the role of federal government today can be traced to TR. He was a proud imperialist and crusader for the middle class, the poor, and the environment. Even where I believe him to be wrong, I admire Roosevelt's commitment and his moral and physical courage.
Eunice Schroeder
Engaging book about a fascinating American. TR advocated strenuously (everything he did was strenuous) for a strong US military and projecting US strength in the world. He famously split the Republican party in 1912, running (and losing) on the Progressive ticket as part of the tidal wave of the progressive movement that reached a high point with the presidency of his cousin FDR.
Rosenthal Stephen
Roosevelt was certainly different than the Republican Party of his time. His ideas of government were not the ways of big business. The party elite never trusted him. This was nothing new but what was of great interest to me was the politics that were going on during his time. In many respects, one could close your eyes and see similarities to today.
Chris Johnson
A great read that shows TR in a great light. Brands is the type of writer to leave absolutely nothing out. The book is completely full but Brands is still able to provide his readers with an opinion of Roosevelt that he comes to after immersing himself in the writings and life of TR. Great book, long...but good.
Ross Cohen
Brands's "TR" was a great read. And while his criticisms of Roosevelt may occasionally veer from sharp to snark, they do so out of the author's affection for his subject and with the understanding that no little pinpricks can burst the image of one of our nation's most iconic leaders.
this is the 1st Teddy Bio I've read, so I cannot compare it to others. At over 800 pages, I was still left feeling that I'd barely skimmed the surface. Would have liked more detail on his time in Africa and the Amazon, but really, eveything was given fairly even coverage
Finishing this book was a difficult battle.
I should have just read the Teddy Roosevelt wikipedia entry and then decided if I needed to supplement that information with some serious reading before taking on this voluminous volume of letter-excerpt chains.
This was a solid, if not a little long, bio of TR. It seemed to get bogged down a little in the details, but was enjoyable nonetheless. Not quite in the same league as John Adams (or even Team of Rivals--so far).
TR is an extraordinary account of one of the most versatile figures in American hsitory - Theodore Roosevelt, and Brands engages the reader's interest from start to finish - all 897 pages. I give it five stars.
Jun 14, 2010 Paul marked it as abandoned
I don't think I can finish this 800+ page monstrosity. It's getting awfully dull and I'm 250 pages in. I basically picked it up because I wanted to get a view of his childhood and time at Harvard.
I can't get past Brands' treatment of the Brownsville incident. Compare Edmund Morris' version. I went back and re-read Brands and was horrified at his simplistic, close-minded recounting.
TR was only 60 when he died! But they were a good 60 years. I will read anything by HW Brands. He provides tons of nerdy/wonky details with an egaging style so it doesn't get boring.
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Henry William Brands was born in Portland, Oregon, where he lived until he went to California for college. He attended Stanford University and studied history and mathematics. After graduating he became a traveling salesman, with a territory that spanned the West from the Pacific to Colorado. His wanderlust diminished after several trips across the Great Basin, and he turned to sales of a differen ...more
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