Review by Choice Review
This sequel to the author's prize-winning The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (CH, Sep'79) is a battleship of a book. Whether readers consider this the Roosevelt biography for our time may depend on their level of tolerance for rococo prose and descriptive minutiae. While the book is strong on atmospherics, a scholarly reader will need to hunt diligently to find anything new about Roosevelt's policies and statecraft. In text tightly packed between TR's complicated excursion back to Washington to assume the presidency following the demise of William McKinley and Roosevelt's departure from office in March 1909, Morris provides a cornucopia of information about the world Roosevelt inhabited and the new political system he was trying to shape. It is, however, like taking that battleship to Brazil: very slow going. There are occasional biographical nuggets (for example, about Roosevelt's health and his family) that are nicely framed. Readers interested in the major episodes of Roosevelt's presidency--notably the trust issue, mediation of the Russo-Japanese War, reaching out to African Americans, environmentalism, and battles with the GOP Old Guard--would profit more from consulting William Harbaugh's Power and Responsibility: The Life and Times of Theodore Roosevelt (1961) or Lewis Gould's The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt (1991). General collections. M. J. Birkner Gettysburg College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
By constitutional dictate, Vice-President Theodore Roosevelt assumed the mantle of the presidency when, on September 14, 1901, William McKinley succumbed to an assassin's bullet. At age 42, TR was the youngest man to become chief executive, and his succession to the highest office in the land was not universally applauded. Senator Mark Hanna, the late president McKinley's friend and mentor, did not just speak for himself when he wailed, "Now look--that damned cowboy is president of the United States." Morris, author of the controversial Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan (1999), now writes the sequel to his award-winning The Rise of the Theodore Roosevelt (1979). And just as TR required a large stage to accommodate his personality and talents--only the presidency would do--the proper telling of his story requires many pages. The reader experiences joy along with the president as he takes hold of the reins of government and, not content with simply being a politician and chief administrator, struggles "toward statesmanship." Roosevelt brought freshness and energy to his handling of the important issues of the day, which for him meant busting trusts, pushing conservation, building the Panama Canal, and effecting a naval buildup. He ended his presidency pleased with his performance and accomplishments, and the reader will end this engrossing narrative pleased that Morris has finally written the second half of this impressive biography. --Brad Hooper
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
The second entry in Morris's projected three-volume life of Theodore Roosevelt focuses on the presidential years 1901 through early 1909. Impeccably researched and beautifully composed, Morris's book provides what is arguably the best consideration of Roosevelt's presidency ever penned. Making good use of TR's private and presidential papers as well as the archives of such prot?g?s as John Hay, William Howard Taft, Owen Wister and John Burroughs Morris marshals a rich array of carefully chosen and beautifully rendered vignettes to create a dazzling portrait of the man (the youngest ever to hold the office of president). Morris proves the perfect guide through TR's eight breathless, fertile years in the White House: years during which the doting father and prolific author conserved millions of Western acres, swung his "big stick" at trusts and monopolies, advanced progressive agendas on race and labor relations, fostered a revolution in Panama (where he sought to build his canal), won the Nobel Peace Prize for mediating an end to the Russo-Japanese War and pushed through the Pure Food and Drug Act. John Burroughs once wrote that the hypercreative TR "was a many sided man, and every side was like an electric battery." In the end, Morris succeeds brilliantly at capturing all of TR's many energized sides, producing a book that is every bit as complex, engaging and invigorating as the vibrant president it depicts. Illus. (On-sale: Nov. 20) Forecast: Long-awaited, this volume comes out in the centennial of TR's rise to the presidency. Morris's gift for storytelling and his outstanding reputation from volume one (and perhaps his notoriety for the controversial Reagan bio Dutch) should guarantee large sales. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
When Vice President Theodore Roosevelt succeeded the assassinated William McKinley, his conservative critics feared a precipitous presidency. But as shown by Morris's second volume on the "Bully" president, what emerged instead was a balanced leader who deserves being ranked among America's top five chief executives. There was universal praise for The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, the first volume of Morris's TR biography, which claimed both the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award in 1980. After his controversial Dutch: A Biography of Ronald Reagan, Morris returns to TR and his traditional acclaimed method, which is stylistically eloquent and historically balanced. Morris shows how Roosevelt adapted Abraham Lincoln's wartime presidency as his own model for transforming America's domestic and international agendas. His two major miscalculations were his premature announcement declining a second complete term and the handling of the Brownsville Affair, when he gave dishonorable discharges to all 167 men from three black companies stationed near Brownsville, TX, when they refused to identify 12 members who had retaliated against discriminatory practices in the town. Morris excels at placing TR in the context of his time, showing how he outmaneuvered powerful but ossified opponents from the Gilded Age and trumped isolationists by averting war, in the process winning the first Nobel Peace Prize. He also set the standard for the Hyde Park Roosevelts, whose emulation of his "accidental" presidency a generation later was perhaps his ultimate contribution to democracy. Essential for all libraries.-William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
In a sequel to the Pulitzer-winning biography of Teddy Roosevelt's earlier years (The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, 1979), Morris celebrates his tenure in the Oval Office, lauding him as the most popular and energetic chief executive of the early modern era. Morris views Roosevelt as the next great president to succeed Lincoln. While his predecessor, William McKinley, represented dour 19th-century values, Roosevelt was more akin to the industrialization that was turning the US into a global power. He was a dynamic reformer who acted first and asked questions later. The author runs through the many irons Roosevelt always had in the fire, using each to show how his personal magnetism, political canniness, intelligence, and force of will earned him a bevy of successes and almost no significant defeats. On the domestic front, Teddy mastered the art of the end run around his political enemies, disarming orthodox Republicans by arguing that they support his trust-busting initiatives or else face the chaos of labor uprisings and quieting labor by throwing them bones designed to least infuriate management. In foreign relations, his personal magnetism and Navy-enlarging policies earned him, and the country, the respect of the great powers. He fended off German encroachments on Venezuela, ensured that the Panama Canal became a reality, and negotiated peace between Russia and Japan. Morris also devotes much attention to Roosevelt's physical exploits, which later influenced his conservation efforts. He was constantly climbing in Rock Creek Park, swimming nude in the Potomac, and boxing or practicing martial arts with members of his cabinet. To blow off steam he hunted, often in the South, where he was seen as too friendly toward African-Americans. Because Democrats receive little attention here, one wonders how Morris might have rendered their criticisms. A boosterish rendering of a potent head of state. Author tour
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