26 February 2014

Review: The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

If you were to ask me five months ago (just prior to starting The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt) what I knew about Theodore Roosevelt I could have summed it up about like this:
  • He was definitely a president.
  • Teddy bears are named for him.
  • He was instrumental in getting the Panama Canal finished.
  • Tread lightly and carry a big stick.
  • Something about Rough Riders.
  • Something about the Natural History Museum in NYC (thanks, Night at the Museum!)
  • Dutch ancestry
Really. That's it. Once I started reading the book I checked a few things on Wikipedia and other really important aspects of his life came to my recollection. But generally I knew very little about him. I may have liked the book for the sole fact that I had a lot to learn by reading it, but the fact that the book is really well-written sealed the deal for me.

This book is the first in a series of three (all of which are completed, so you don't need to wait on pins and needles for the next installment to come out). The second one, Theodore Rex won the Pulitzer Prize, and based on the excellent writing of the first, I'm not surprised.

It is, hands down, the best biography I've ever read. The writing is so clear - descriptive when it's necessary, but not overly so. Many details are so specific that it's clear the author researched and scoured an unfathomable amount of material, only to whittle it down to the most important things for the reader. 

This book is dense, but it's still easy to read. I spent about five months reading it, and it's 780 pages before the end notes and index, which are just over 100 pages.

1 comment:

Melanie said...

I'm reading this right now and confess to the thought that Morris just *might* be a better and more entertaining history writer than McCullough, which is saying a whole lot in my book. I just read the part where Alice dies and I can't believe that TR NEVER talked about her again, not even to her own daughter.