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Extended Audio Sample Colonel Roosevelt, by Edmund Morris Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.99964272954627 out of 53.99964272954627 out of 53.99964272954627 out of 53.99964272954627 out of 53.99964272954627 out of 5 4.00 (2,799 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Edmund Morris Narrator: Mark Deakins Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Of all our great presidents, Theodore Roosevelt is the only one whose greatness increased out of office. When he toured Europe in 1910 as plain “Colonel Roosevelt,” he was hailed as the most famous man in the world. Crowned heads vied to put him up in their palaces. “If I see another king,” he joked, “I think I shall bite him.” 

Had TR won his historic “Bull Moose” campaign in 1912 (when he outpolled the sitting president, William Howard Taft), he might have averted World War I, so great was his international influence. Had he not died in 1919, at the early age of sixty, he would unquestionably have been reelected to a third term in the White House and completed the work he began in 1901 of establishing the United States as a model democracy, militarily strong and socially just.

This biography by Edmund Morris, the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award–winning author of The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt and Theodore Rex, is itself the completion of a trilogy sure to stand as definitive. Packed with more adventure, variety, drama, humor, and tragedy than a big novel, yet documented down to the smallest fact, it recounts the last decade of perhaps the most amazing life in American history. What other president has written forty books, hunted lions, founded a third political party, survived an assassin’s bullet, and explored an unknown river longer than the Rhine?

Colonel Roosevelt begins with a prologue recounting what TR called his “journey into the Pleistocene”—a yearlong safari through East Africa, collecting specimens for the Smithsonian. Some readers will be repulsed by TR’s bloodlust, which this book does not prettify, yet there can be no denying that the Colonel passionately loved and understood every living thing that came his way: The text is rich in quotations from his marvelous nature writing.

Although TR intended to remain out of politics when he returned home in 1910, a fateful decision that spring drew him back into public life. By the end of the summer, in his famous “New Nationalism” speech, he was the guiding spirit of the Progressive movement, which inspired much of the social agenda of the future New Deal. (TR’s fifth cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt acknowledged that debt, adding that the Colonel “was the greatest man I ever knew.”)

Then follows a detailed account of TR’s reluctant yet almost successful campaign for the White House in 1912. But unlike other biographers, Edmund Morris does not treat TR mainly as a politician. This volume gives as much consideration to TR’s literary achievements and epic expedition to Brazil in 1913–1914 as to his fatherhood of six astonishingly different children, his spiritual and aesthetic beliefs, and his eager embrace of other cultures—from Arab and Magyar to German and American Indian. It is impossible to read Colonel Roosevelt and not be awed by the man’s universality. The Colonel himself remarked, “I have enjoyed life as much as any nine men I know.”

Morris does not hesitate, however, to show how pathologically TR turned upon those who inherited the power he craved—the hapless Taft, the adroit Woodrow Wilson. When Wilson declined to bring the United States into World War I in 1915 and 1916, the Colonel blasted him with some of the worst abuse ever uttered by a former chief executive. Yet even Wilson had to admit that behind the Rooseveltian will to rule lay a winning idealism and decency. “He is just like a big boy—there is a sweetness about him that you can’t resist.” That makes the story of TR’s last year, when the “boy” in him died, all the sadder in the telling: the conclusion of a life of Aristotelian grandeur.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Like Robert Caro with Lyndon Johnson, Morris has devoted a career to one man with equally impressive results. This is a witty, insightful biography combined with a vivid political history of America from 1910 to 1919, centered on a relentlessly energetic ex-president. It is a joy to read.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Morris skillfully holds readers’ attention throughout the book, which is as filled with adventure as volume one, even as TR’s life inevitably moved downhill. In completion of the most objective and worthwhile TR biography, this is an essential purchase.”

    Library Journal

  • “Roosevelt never fails to fascinate, and Morris provides a highly readable, strong finish to his decades-long marathon.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • Colonel Roosevelt is compelling reading, and Morris a brilliant biographer who practices his art at the highest level…The writing is vivid in its restraint, powerful in its precision, and shapely in its structure and vision. Morris has a way of making aspects of Roosevelt’s life and values relevant in both dark and bright ways.”

    Washington Post

  • “Morris is a stylish storyteller with an irresistible subject. The seismic personality that one White House visitor said had to be wrung from one’s clothes when leaving Roosevelt’s presence infuses every one of his trilogy’s nearly 2,500 pages…Morris has lost none of his narrative skill over the last thirty-one years. 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.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • A 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2010 Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Book for Nonfiction
  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction, 2010
  • A 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Biography

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Bob Miller | 2/15/2014

    " This third and final volume covers TR from the end of his presidency to his death at 60 years of age. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Garrett | 2/13/2014

    " An excellent volume on the post-presidential years of Theodore Roosevelt. Morris opens with TR's African safari followed by his tour of Europe. This volume also covers TR's 1912 presidential run and formation of the Progressive (Bull Moose) Party. Theodore Roosevelet is one of those amazing people from whom one can learn a great deal throughout their entire lives. Not only as a young man and a president, but also in the final decades of his life, TR stands out as an impressive example of what it means to be 'The Man in the Arena.' "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jeff Smith | 2/7/2014

    " Great finish to a trilogy on perhaps the most interesting person in our country's history. It's a shame that our culture no longer produces leaders of this character. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by R M Byrd | 1/30/2014

    " A completely amazing work. Morris is a wonderful writer. Not only does he communicate the facts and figures of TR's life, but he does it in such a way that the reader can see the man, his strengths, his weaknesses, his prodigious talents and drive. This, combined with the other two books in the trilogy, form the definitive biography of the best president the United States ever had. "

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