Richard Needham's Reviews > Theodore Rex

Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris
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's review
Jun 27, 2009

it was amazing
Read in July, 2009

Although it took me nearly a year to finish this book, it is no fault of the author: from the moment of TR's assumption of the Presidency following McKinley's assasination (the account of which really drew me in) until the end of the second term, Edmund Morris not only gives a detailed account of Roosevelt's presidency (oh, now I see why he joins Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln on Mt. Rushmore), but of his personal life and the times in which he lived. He was a fitness fanatic, constantly injuring himself in macho strength contests, but he also read fanatically, of the classics and world history. So many things we take for granted today were personal initiatives of TR: national parks and forests, conservation of natural resources, regulation of the food and drug industry, and taking on the robber barons and establishing federal control over interstate commerce. In foreign affairs, he brough Russia and Japan together in New Hampshire to end the Russo-Japanese war (and received the Nobel Peace Prize for this effort). He recognized the emerging power of Japan and sent the US Navy around the world for the first time to demonstrate US Power. And of course there is the Teddy Bear (page 174) and the Panama Canal.

What is brought forth here and is so astonishing is the establishment of the US as a (the?) major world power, only a few decades after the Civil War. Also evident from reading this book are the eternal, and depressing themes of racism (TR invited Booker T. Washington to the White House for dinner, and was criticized heavily for this friendship), polarizing politics (Roosevelt was criticized as a socialist for his progressive agenda), and terrorism (anarchists abounded at the time).

Almost two hundred pages of the book are footnotes and citations (a testimonial to Morris' thoroughness) , often with further interesting material: do not overlook these when you read this excellent biography.
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