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51-Mar-Apr-2011
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A-Colonel RooseveltWith Colonel Roosevelt, distinguished biographer Edmund Morris concludes the celebrated trilogy he began with The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (1979)--for which he won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award--and continued in Theodore Rex (2001). He has also chronicled the lives of Ronald Reagan (sort of) and Beethoven.

The Topic: Despite supporters' encouragement to seek a third term, President Theodore Roosevelt left the White House in 1909 and almost immediately embarked on an African safari, followed by a European tour. Back home in Oyster Bay, New York, Roosevelt became increasingly frustrated with, and vociferously critical of, his successor, William Howard Taft, and he waged an aggressive campaign to reclaim the presidency in 1912 on his newly created (and short-lived) Progressive Party platform. Though he finished ahead of Taft, Roosevelt lost the election to Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson, and he subsequently set off on an expedition to the Brazilian jungle. The journey nearly cost him his life; subsequent ill health, coupled with the loss of his favorite son Quentin, hastened him to the grave in 1919.
Random House. 784 pages. $35. ISBN: 9780375504877

New York Times 4.5 of 5 Stars
"It deserves to stand as the definitive study of its restless, mutable, ever-boyish, erudite and tirelessly energetic subject. Mr. Morris has addressed the toughest and most frustrating part of Roosevelt's life with the same care and precision that he brought to the two earlier installments. And if this story of a lifetime is his own life's work, he has reason to be immensely proud." Janet Maslin

Chicago Sun-Times 4 of 5 Stars
"The eternally restless Roosevelt, who always wanted to be ‘in the arena,' makes the third volume of Edmund Morris' epic biography as entertaining and energetic as its predecessors. ... As with its companions, the new book is history written with authority and elegances." John Barron

Los Angeles Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Morris' hand, it must be noted, has been sure and steady throughout. ... The TR trilogy is masterful, and can rightfully take its place among the truly outstanding biographies of the American presidency." Nicholas Basbanes

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"Morris is a stylish storyteller with an irresistible subject. ... His new book is filled with vivid set pieces, from the train ride across the sunburned plains of East Africa with which it opens to the snowy graveside ceremony at Oyster Bay with which his story ends." Geoffrey C. Ward

Wall Street Journal 3 of 5 Stars
"Mr. Morris tries hard to present Roosevelt's grass-roots progressive sympathies as factitious. ... Forget the evidence that TR defended the Bull Moose platform until the day he died. Mr. Morris wants him to die Tory, and so in this book he does." Kathleen Dalton

Critical Summary

"Now with Colonel Roosevelt," announced the New York Times, "the magnum opus is complete." Morris's balanced examination of the final years of Roosevelt's life highlights the slow but inexorable waning of his political and, ultimately, physical power. Equally adept at political explication and recounting adventure tales, Morris injects new life, and even suspense, into some familiar stories with his wry, minimalist prose--perfectly suited to his subject's volatile personality--and an abundance of rich detail grounded in meticulous research. Although the Wall Street Journal took issue with Morris's political analysis, that critic still considered Colonel Roosevelt a poignant and factual account of the 26th President's post–White House years. A tour de force befitting its seismic subject, Colonel Roosevelt brings this extraordinary trilogy to a triumphant end.

Also by the Author

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (1979): F National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize) In this award-winning, critically acclaimed volume, Morris follows Roosevelt's meteoric rise from a sickly, homeschooled child to the youngest chief executive in American history. (He was 42.)

Theodore Rex (2001): In this highly praised second installment, Morris examines Roosevelt's landmark presidency, from 1901 to 1909, during which time he challenged corporate greed, elevated conservation to national attention, and redefined the role of the executive branch in government.