So I went into January with full intentions of reading all 3 of Edmund Morris’ books on Teddy Roosevelt. They are award winning (The first one even won the Pulitzer!) and have super high reviews and I was all gung-ho.
As you can tell by the books I linked, I fell a little short. To be fair, I still read 1,200 pages on Theodore Roosevelt so I think I can confidently mark him off of my Presidential Challenge list, but I do intend to read the last book (Colonial Roosevelt) soon.
This was one of the presidents that I was majorly looking forward to. We have a national park pretty much in our back yard and it has made me a huge fan of the NPS and all that they do. I knew that that originated with Theodore Roosevelt and that he was an explorer and rugged, but that was about all I knew. I wasn’t sure how that went together with being president and how on earth he was important enough to end up on Mt. Rushmore.
The Edmund Morris series is set up so book one is pre-presidential life, book two is presidential life and book three is post-presidential life.
During book one, I totally developed a history-crush on The Tedster. I mean, I love him. I loved reading about his family life- I was shocked that he was born into a super rich family. I loved reading about his ascent up the political ladder. But most of all, I just loved figuring out his personality. He was a prolific journaler and letter writer, so it is easy to put together this really full picture of the kind of guy he was. He’s just this colorful character and I really enjoyed reading about him. This book was over 700 pages long and I just gobbled it up.
The second book, Theodore Rex, was tougher for me. 500 pages on 7-ish years was just a bit much. I’m sure that if I were ultra-political I would have been just as engrossed with this one as the first, but I’m just not. I’m far more interested in the presidents as men than in the whole political side of it. I think that Edmund Morris was careful to continue to show who Roosevelt was, but it still wasn’t as quick of a read for me.
There were just so many times throughout his political life where Theodore Roosevelt seemed to be able to see into the future. Of course, starting the National Park Service when conservation wasn’t even a thing was wise beyond his time, but he also set a lot of precedents about corporations and laws regarding monopolies. He saw before anyone else that corporations need to be kept in check and he jumped on it quickly. For this reason, if no other (and there are others), Teddy Roosevelt has shaped the way that America currently works. I loved reading about him inviting Booker T. Washington to the White House, making him the first black man to dine there. Roosevelt did it seemingly without thinking and people were furious. I feel like Roosevelt just kind of shrugged his shoulders. He didn’t see a problem and didn’t really see why other people did. I like that about him.
I could go on and on. I loved these books and would recommend them highly to anyone doing the challenge or anyone who just wants to know more about our nation’s history. So, so good.