There won't be many big surprises to those familiar the general arc of TR's rise: sickly child, Harvard dandy, young turk of Republican party, Dakota cowboy, NY Police Commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Rough Rider, NY Governor. The depth and details Morris goes into, however, are incredibly impressive.
Something that struck me as I read this book was contrast between the greatness of his accomplishments and the greatness of his flaws. His snobbery, his vanity, his glorification of war can't be overlooked. One might be tempted to write off certain shortcoming by saying that our attitudes about things like class and military conquest have changed, but even for his time, TR was extreme. Over and over again, he was described by even his closest friends as childlike in his temperment and behavior. Then again, he accomplished many, many great things. I had the same feelings when reading the recent biography of Steve Jobs. Both were great men. Both were greatly flawed men.
I also strongly recommend the next part of the series, Theodore Rex.
This was quite a comprehensive, enjoyable biography.
Most people who remember a bit of their high-school history will be familiar with the highlights o...moreThis was quite a comprehensive, enjoyable biography.
Most people who remember a bit of their high-school history will be familiar with the highlights of Hamilton's life: born in the West Indies, Aid to Washington during the Revolution, co-author of the Federalist papers, first Secretary of the Treasury, shot in a duel with Aaron Burr. As you might expect, this eight hundred page tome fills in the details and gaps of that timeline extensively. Those details are quite often fascinating.
I also learned a lot about the history of the early republic that I hadn't known. In particular, I had no idea about how polarized and extreme the reactions to French revolution and its aftermath were among the founders, how instrumental it was in defining our early party divisions, nor how close we came to war with France.
The author is definitely partisan. Although fairly forthcoming about Hamilton's own faults, his rivals are presented in an extremely unfavorable light. Fans of Adams and Jefferson in particular should be prepared for some tough talk. In general, I think this is a good thing. I'm a pretty big admirer of Jefferson, and to a lesser extent Adams, so seeing this perspective was very enlightening.