All by Edmund Morris. Hardcover trilogy set available for $68
In his own time Theodore Roosevelt was called “the most interesting American” – an early biography even used that as the title. He was an explorer, a hunter, a historian, a rancher, a soldier, New York City Police Commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of New York, Vice President of the United States, and, of course, President. He explored an unknown Brazilian river that now bears his name, founded a new political party, won the Nobel Peace Prize, and posthumously received the Medal of Honor, the only US President to receive it.
Written over 30 years, these three volumes by Edmund Morris cover the entire life and times of Theodore Roosevelt and constitute one of the finest biographies available. “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt” covers his family history, his early years, and his first steps into politics. The book ends with the assassination of President McKinley and the swearing in of Roosevelt as the 26th President. “Theodore Rex” covers the presidency itself (and is in fact not a novelization of the talking dinosaur/buddy cop movie starring Whoopi Goldberg). The final ten years of his life, when he was the “most famous man in the world,” are described in “Colonel Roosevelt.” This includes a harrowing account of an assassination attempt: “Maniac In Milwaukee Shoots Col. Roosevelt; He Ignores Wound, Speaks An Hour, Goes To Hospital” read the New York Times headline.
Morris is such a fine writer and Roosevelt such a captivating subject that even the most wonkish political details are compulsively readable. The scope of Roosevelt’s accomplishments require Morris to often address the political issues of the day (you’re going to learn about the importance of tariff reciprocity with Canada to the Taft administration) but he also captures Roosevelt’s uninhibited, exuberant nature, such as his habit of galloping on horseback through parks while President, firing at tree stumps with his revolver.
Three books barely seem adequate to chart the life of Theodore Roosevelt.