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Extended Audio Sample The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, by Edmund Morris Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (9,694 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Edmund Morris Narrator: Harry Chase Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Thirty years ago, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. A collector’s item in its original edition, it has never been out of print as a paperback. This classic book is now reissued in hardcover, along with Theodore Rex, to coincide with the publication of Colonel Roosevelt, the third and concluding volume of Edmund Morris’s definitive trilogy on the life of the twenty-sixth President.

Although Theodore Rex fully recounts TR’s years in the White House (1901–1909), The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt begins with a brilliant Prologue describing the President at the apex of his international prestige. That was on New Year’s Day, 1907, when TR, who had just won the Nobel Peace Prize, threw open the doors of the White House to the American people and shook 8,150 hands, more than any man before him. Morris re-creates the reception with such authentic detail that the reader gets almost as vivid an impression of TR as those who attended. One visitor remarked afterward, “You go to the White House, you shake hands with Roosevelt and hear him talk—and then you go home to wring the personality out of your clothes.”

The rest of this book tells the story of TR’s irresistible rise to power. (He himself compared his trajectory to that of a rocket.) It is, in effect, the biography of seven men—a naturalist, a writer, a lover, a hunter, a ranchman, a soldier, and a politician—who merged at age forty-two to become the youngest President in our history. Rarely has any public figure exercised such a charismatic hold on the popular imagination. Edith Wharton likened TR’s vitality to radium. H. G. Wells said that he was “a very symbol of the creative will in man.” Walter Lippmann characterized him simply as our only “lovable” chief executive.

During the years 1858–1901, Theodore Roosevelt, the son of a wealthy Yankee father and a plantation-bred southern belle, transformed himself from a frail, asthmatic boy into a full-blooded man. Fresh out of Harvard, he simultaneously published a distinguished work of naval history and became the first-swinging leader of a Republican insurgency in the New York State Assembly. He had a youthful romance as lyrical—and tragic—as any in Victorian fiction. He chased thieves across the Badlands of North Dakota with a copy of Anna Karenina in one hand and a Winchester rifle in the other. Married to his childhood sweetheart in 1886, he became the country squire of Sagamore Hill on Long Island, a flamboyant civil service reformer in Washington, D.C., and a night-stalking police commissioner in New York City. As assistant secretary of the navy under President McKinley, he almost single-handedly brought about the Spanish-American War. After leading “Roosevelt’s Rough Riders” in the famous charge up San Juan Hill, Cuba, he returned home a military hero, and was rewarded with the governorship of New York. In what he called his “spare hours” he fathered six children and wrote fourteen books. By 1901, the man Senator Mark Hanna called “that damned cowboy” was vice president of the United States. Seven months later, an assassin’s bullet gave TR the national leadership he had always craved.

His is a story so prodigal in its variety, so surprising in its turns of fate, that previous biographers have treated it as a series of haphazard episodes. This book, the only full study of TR’s pre-presidential years, shows that he was an inevitable chief executive, and recognized as such in his early teens. His apparently random adventures were precipitated and linked by various aspects of his character, not least an overwhelming will. “It was as if he were subconsciously aware that he was a man of many selves,” the author writes, “and set about developing each one in turn, knowing that one day he would be President of all the people.”

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Quotes & Awards

  • Winner of the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for Biography/Autobiography
  • Winner of the 1980 National Book Award for Biography

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Dick Gullickson | 2/19/2014

    " It's hard to separate my admiration for Theodore Roosevelt from my appreciation for Edmund Morris's great biography. Theodore is an unexpectedly remarkable and fascinating individual. Edmund paints a compelling picture of Teddy with his boyish enthusiasms, boundless energy, magnetic personality, odd speaking style (at least for much of his early career), and top flight intellect. Roosevelt was a committed amateur biologist who wrote one of his many books on the big game animals of the west. He wrote a number of biographies of political figures emphasizing his own theory of manifest destiny for America. Teddy could knock out a book in a few months -- with his photographic memory he remembered everything he read and could synthesize that information and dictate a manuscript without slowing to consult his notes. This same intellect made him a formidable raconteur and dinner table conversationalist. He was known for inviting experts on history, philosophy, religion, or science to dinner and then dominating the conversation by telling his guest all about the area of his guest's specialty. (But the favorable impression left by so much knowledge was probably somewhat tarnished by his inability to pause and listen). Roosevelt's eastern "dude" image was softened by his cowboy status having been a deputy sheriff in North Dakota and bringing three desperados to justice. His one unsuccessful attempt at business (at least financially, he had a great time doing it), was establishing a cattle ranch near Dickinson, ND, where Janie once taught school. He led his cowboy rough riders regiment in the Spanish American War and almost won the congressional medal of honor for leading the charge up San Juan Hill. By the way, as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, he did more than almost anyone (with the possible exception of the Spanish) to trigger the Spanish American War. This is the best book I have read this year. And maybe last year, too. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Alexandra Arboleda | 2/10/2014

    " This book is so beautifully written, it is a pleasure to read. I loved learning about the early life of this powerful and influential man. His courage and resilience are extraordinary and inspiring. It was fascinating to get a glimpse of America at the turn of the century through his eyes. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by peter | 1/30/2014

    " I thought this book may have been too dry, but not only is Teddy's life interesting (even his youth), but Morris writes smoothly enough that he's a good storyteller. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Tim | 1/29/2014

    " Finally finished all 783 pages. A long read but a good one. Roosevelt is one of my favorite presidents because of his devotion to conservation. I did not realize he was also the father of the civil service system and and a staunch supporter of fighting corruption in government and politics.....where are you now! Good read, now foe something a little more mellow before the next two books. "

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