The biography begins with him assuming the role of Chief Executive following the assassination of his predecessor, William McKinley. Roosevelt, who is the youngest man to ever assume the role of President, was sworn in at just 42.
Despite having an eventful career in politics and the military, Roosevelt was viewed with a great deal of skepticism as he entered the Oval Office. Because of his age and lack of experience, it was well deserved. He had been governor for no more than two years, and was Assistant Secretary of the Navy for barely one. His rise to power seemed based on his family’s influence, as opposed to merit.
Upon entering office Theodore was quick to silence the naysayers. He instituted a number of reforms and wasn’t afraid to take his opponents head-on, especially the massive corporations on Wall Street.
The “Trust Buster”
Reading Theodore Rex gives amazing insight as to just how powerful these financial entities were. It is said that when it came to economic matters, J.P. Morgan had more control over the economy than did the federal government, but that was no matter for Teddy. While his “trust-busting” was a questionable economic policy, his audacity is indeed admirable.
Roosevelt’s Presidency had its fair share of events beyond battles with monopolies: Labor strikes, the Panama Canal, the Russo-Japanese War, the Panic of 1907 among others. Surprisingly America did not have to fight any wars during his time in office. It’s surprising because several years prior to his ascension to Chief Executive the US was battling the ailing Spanish Empire and five years after his second term ended the Great War erupted in Europe. Thankfully he never had to put his “big stick” policy into action.
The most impressive aspect of Theodore Rex is the astounding research that went into researching and writing this award winning biography.
While I applaud Morris for his effort, this for the layman it is too much detail (From an academic perspective it is no doubt appreciated). Every minutiae of his Presidency is attended to with much depth. It reads at times like a diary, more so than a biography you’d find at a bookstore. One cannot have expected Morris to have sacrificed his tremendous research, but it makes the content of Theodore Rex dryer than the Sahara Desert.
Teddy at His Dullest
It is important to note that this book is the second in a trilogy of the life of Theodore Roosevelt, because if one is looking to read about his fascinating life before and after the Presidency than those books may be a better investment of time and money. Or perhaps the River Of Doubt would be an excellent choice.
Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris is not something that is going to appeal to the average reader; even to history buffs like myself. It’s one of those books that people read, or at least claim to have read, for bragging rights.
If you are looking for a highly detailed, in depth book about the Presidency of Teddy R., then look no further. However, for someone looking for a general biography, you can look elsewhere.
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