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Colonel Roosevelt Audiobook, by Edmund Morris Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Edmund Morris Narrator: Mark Deakins Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2010 ISBN: 9780307750426
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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 Reviews

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  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bob | 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 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 Jeff | 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 R | 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. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emily | 1/28/2014

    " Well, I did it! The massive 3 volume biography of Teddy Roosevelt by Edmund Morris has probably been one of my favorite literary challenges to under-take. Impeccably researched, remarklably written, and just a tremendous effort by Edmund Morris. With a combined total of about 2400 pages, these three books never felt like a chore to read. It took all my will power to not bust them out at my desk at work! This last installment features Teddy's life post presidency and let me just say that the word "retirement" didn't exist in his vocabulary. An African safari, a diplomatic tour of Europe, 3rd run at the presidency, an assassination attempt, and an Amazon river exploration are only some of the things he accomplished in the last 10 years of his life. Teddy now occupies my 2nd favorite president slot, right behind his 5th cousin, FDR. Damn you Roosevelts---I love you! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Randall | 1/26/2014

    " No better bio triology. Few better men. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tom | 1/20/2014

    " Edmund Morris finally finished his TR trilogy with this volume, and he does so well. Morris often writes of his subject as a mythical-seeming figure. This is easy to do for Theodore Roosevelt, but it can make the work seem less objective. Writing of one particularly egregious act in the second volume, Theodore Rex, the author seems more embarrassed by it than anything else. Morris manages to reverse the trend slightly here to great affect by portraying a TR that is perhaps a bit behind the times. He does this by doing something unseen in other volumes, simply by explaining the political genius of Roosevelt rival Woodrow Wilson. Unlike William Howard Taft, the reader gets the impression that Morris actually thinks well of Wilson, even while Roosevelt does not. Instead, Wilson comes across as a more modern thinker to TR's more 19th century romantic way of thinking (especially on the subject of war). TR is never portrayed as anything less than likeable (even Wilson says he's a likeable man), but it does seem that post presidency, time passed Theodore by and he either never quite realized it or he did and hated it. A fitting ending to a masterful trilogy, well worth the wait. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patricrk | 1/17/2014

    " I didn't know much about TR after the presidency. I enjoyed this book and learned a lot. Very readable. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jason | 1/16/2014

    " Roosevelt is probably the most interesting man who ever lived. I am fascinated by his life, and Morris's trilogy is a towering study of one the truly great americans. A large book it is worth the time to explore the life of this extraordinary life. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathleen | 12/27/2013

    " This was one of those read it-take a break-read it again books. I enjoyed the previous two books in this scholarly but readable series and this final one was satisfying, too. Kinda wish TR was less prone to lengthy speeches, but it was the pre sound byte era. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David | 12/4/2013

    " A phenomenal work! Even though I knew the ending from the beginning, I wept at its telling. Any manly man must read about the life of Colonel Roosevelt in general and this book in particular. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Fellini | 11/15/2013

    " A strong close by Morris on what was a daring and powerful effort to detail the life of TR, the giant. A colossal trilogy fitted to a colossal man. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Den | 5/8/2013

    " Loved it. reading about TR has increased my desire to read more books based on Political History "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gmj227 | 7/8/2012

    " Fabulous third & final volume in biography of T. Roosevelt. I now understand why his face is on Mt. Rushmore with Washington, Jefferson & Lincoln. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kirk | 3/11/2012

    " Not as good as I remember "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" but better than "Theodore Rex". "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dave | 12/30/2011

    " Loved the previous volumes of this series I splurges on a signed first-edition of this volume. Totally worth it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 William | 11/26/2011

    " The last of the Roosevelt trilogy. As always well researched and well written. When completed you thought you really got the "feel" of the real man. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bruce | 6/5/2011

    " Hoorah! for Edmund Morris and his trilogy on "Teddy". I thoroughly enjoyed this last installment. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lauren | 6/4/2011

    " Quit reading it about a third through. Too dry and political. I was hoping to read more about his personl life not the details of US party splits, etc. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bruce | 5/3/2011

    " A fitting end to an excellent trilogy of our most intriguing president. Author of 40 books and innumerable articles and editorials. In his post presidential period he goes big game hunting in Africa and exploring in the Amazon. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa | 5/2/2011

    " I loved the first book on TR he wrote, fell asleep and gave up on book 2, so I'm starting this one HOPING it doesn't put me to sleep. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian | 4/27/2011

    " Like the "World's Most Interesting Man" ads, but real. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Merrill | 3/16/2011

    " Well written and what a guy! However, a little bloodthirsty in terms of hunting and warfare. He was a peacemaker, until there was a war. He well defines a renaissance man of his zestful knowledge of just about everything. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kaworu | 3/2/2011

    " Excellent conclusion to an excellent series about a very interesting figure. "

About the Author

Edmund Morris grew up in Kenya where he developed a fascination with America in general and Theodore Roosevelt in particular. His life-long interest in the man led him to this full-scale study, four years in the making. Much of the manuscript was written in the library of the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site. Formerly a contributing editor of the New York Times, he lives inNew York.

About the Narrator

Mark Deakins is an AudioFile Earphones Award–winning narrator and actor whose television appearances include Head Case, Star Trek: Voyager, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. His film credits include Intervention, Star Trek: Insurrection, and The Devil’s Advocate. He wrote, directed, and produced the short film The Smith Interviews.