Sunday, October 07, 2012

Col. Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt's legacy has risen and fallen several times since his death in 1919. Be that as it may, his work was great enough to get him a placed on Mount Rushmore along with our greatest presidents - being the only one from the 20th century so enthroned. Even after all these intervening ears, only cousin Franklin Roosevelt has vied with Theodore Roosevelt for confirmation in the pantheon presidential beyond Rushmore. The book at hand here considers a Roosevelt who had to leave the Republican Party that had quickly started to undo progressive measures Roosevelt had enacted after h, following the near equivalent of two terms, left the White House.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) lived a god-awful long time ago, but still is figure of interest. He is of special interest to dyed in the wool history buffs and some politically obsessed others. From wealth but a Progressive at heart, he tried to divert the Republican Party from kowtowing to big capitalist interests. It is the tale of that battle that underlies Colonel Roosevelt, the last volume in Edmund Morris's prodigious three-volume biography of T.R.

At the same time that he brokered progressivism, promoted respect for Black people and more or less helped to invent what is now called ecology, he stridently promoted American imperialism and militarism and the unfair treatment of indigenous people. Maybe more rightfully than the Dos Eckees TV ad guy, he can be called the most interesting fellow who ever lived.

This book finds him in his post presidential years, still pursuing a strenuous life that took its toll on this heart. Historian Morris's work is daring. He concludes that it was more than strenuous living that did Roosevelt in at what would now be a young age. His heart broke as a dear son died in air combat in World War I, a war T.R. vocally urged the U.S. to enter. Is Morris going overboard, contrasting Roosevelt the war lover with Roosevelt the grieving father? In my estimate he has every right to his conjectures at the end of his colossal (2000-plus pages, probably 35-plus years) undertaking. Fact and Story are key to Morris's biography. Legend, here is palpable. Roosevelt, a man of both thought and action, presented here with depth and nuance, will find a new audience through Morris's work. - Jack Vaughan (see this and other reviews on Amazon Reviewer Page.

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