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T.R.: The Last Romantic

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,392 ratings  ·  66 reviews
From the New York Times bestselling author, an acclaimed biography of President Teddy Roosevelt
Lauded as "a rip-roaring life" (Wall Street Journal), TR is a magisterial biography of Theodore Roosevelt by bestselling author H.W. Brands. In his time, there was no more popular national figure than Roosevelt. It was not just the energy he brought to every political office he h
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
May 07, 2013 rated it really liked it

“T.R.: The Last Romantic” is H.W. Brands’s 1997 biography of Theodore Roosevelt. Brands is a professor at the University of Texas, a prolific author and a two-time Pulitzer finalist. He has written nearly thirty books on a wide range of historical topics including biographies of Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Aaron Burr and FDR. His most recent biography “Reagan: A Life” will be released in May.

Brands’s biography is lengthy (with just over 800 pages) bu
Bill Simpson
Jul 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 21, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brands weaves history into a complete story.
Stephen Veliz
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've been surprised by a few reviews that I've read here, stating that Brands paints TR in a negative light. To be sure, the author is critical of Roosevelt at time - for example, Roosevelt's private criticism of Wilson.

However, I believe that Brands weaves a balanced narrative of one of our nation's most extraordinary figures. If you're looking for someone that positions Roosevelt on a pedestal, this book is probably not for you. If you want an unvarnished story of one of America's most pivotal
Bill Simpson
Sep 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I just really love Teddy and this made me love him more.
Vincent Saint-Simon
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.


Craig Earnshaw
Oct 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Summer Meyers
Brands has a weird relationship with Roosevelt. Through out the book, Brands made snide remarks about Roosevelt's character and personality. It was distracting and a bit disappointing. Roosevelt had his faults, and I don't necessarily need someone who fawns over him, but a general feeling of esteem for your subject isn't too much to ask.

I was annoyed that he glossed over some important moments of Roosevelt's history (His involvement with the cigar business during his state legislature, riding d
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
Interesting president. Got us into Cuba, Panama, Philippines etc. The whole team-American world-police foreign policy seems to originate from TR. TR was the president of unintended consequences. His Republican view on restricting corporations was great, but pretty sure 3rd term would've lead to more unintended consequences(eg thank god we never got referendums)

Absolutely terrible author. 0 effort was put into setting context of various events. Eg The Populist Movement causes a lot of TR's reacti
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent biography of Theodore Roosevelt. Brands accurately portrays his subject--both his good characteristics and his bad. Roosevelt's renowned energy is well portrayed, his tendency toward hating others when they're not doing what he expects is also portrayed. I'm thinking especially of Taft and Wilson.

Obviously all of the detail of Roosevelt's life can't be portrayed in this book but there are plenty of excellent books that tell about certain aspects of his life. This inclusive biography w
Wendy Cerna
Jul 22, 2018 rated it liked it
I love to read presidential biographies. Haven't read them all...yet...but quite a few. This one is good but not great. The author has obviously done extensive research. All the facts are present. Theodore Roosevelt's life is clearly outlined and many interesting anecdotes are added from those who knew him and from his own personal writings. I really enjoyed those excerpts. And I am in awe of all the work that had to go into making this book as readable and accessible as it is. But the reason I ...more
Doug Tabner
May 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Brands is among my favorite authors, his books on Franklin and Jackson are the definitive biographies of them. But when it comes to Teddy Roosevelt, Edmund Morris' trilogy is as good as it gets. If you want to stick to a single volume then T.R. is the book for you. But if you're going to get in deep enough to read a 900 page book, I'd highly recommend going the extra miles and reading the Morris trilogy.
Michael Carrier
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: president-bios
MPL Audio

Details lost in move to GR. This was my first presidential bio. Was inspired by a Harry Turtledove book about the second Civil War. TR was one of the characters in the book in MT with Custer fighting the british invading from Canada.
Maggi LeDuc
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
Brands strikes an excellent balance between relating the extraordinary particulars of TR's life in factual detail and editorializing his thoughts and decisions (especially later in life) with some unpartisian reality.
Hannah Burgess
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of my favorite biographies on my favorite president. Brands style of narrative makes the story of Teddy Roosevelt come to life.
Scott Jones
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read this when it was first released in the 90s. Great book!
Marty Reeder
Feb 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Felipe Alfaro
Feb 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Before reading this book I did not know much about Teddy. I knew that he was a Rough Rider, that he built the Panama Canal, that the teddy bear was his namesake, and that he regulated the meat-packing industry after reading The Jungle. Now I have a comprehensive understanding on not just what he did, but how his mind worked. TR believed that the Republican party should reflect the principles of Lincoln and not sell out to the pecuniary temptations that come from corporate and party bosses. (Obvi ...more
Jan 31, 2009 rated it it was ok
"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
May 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Eric Smith
Nov 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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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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