Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Review: Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

Over the last few months, I have been reading quite a bit about the life and times of Theodore Roosevelt, and I recently finished reading Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris. The book is the third part of a trilogy about the former President. The first book is The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt and the second is Theodore Rex. Each one of these books uncovers aspects of what this great American accomplished that I find utterly inspiring personally.

This book starts off immediately after Roosevelt has left the Presidency. This is the period of his life when he delivers his famed Man in the Arena speech at Sorbonne in France, and he continues to play on a global stage. During this time, Roosevelt continues to lead a life of adventure, and in all probability lives his life as one of the most globally popular people on the planet. In this era of his life, he lives as a naturalist and explorer of Africa and the Amazon. He represents the US in various arenas, and he makes a solid run to establish a viable third party in American politics, the Progressive or Bull-Moose Party

Roosevelt, although his health began to deteriorate, never seemed to cease working hard. At one point, he comments that he had promised himself that he would continue working to the hilt until he was sixty and he had done it. Although he never re-ascended to the Presidency, he continued to live his life in such a way as to influence public opinion and global affairs. Reading Morris's account, one gets the feeling that the only thing that could really stop Roosevelt from moving forward with strength was his own death, and Morris tells Roosevelt's story right up to his very last words.

There is so much to say about this man's life, and Edmund Morris tells it in a way that gives a glimpse into the personal care and pride of a father for his sons as they go to serve in the first World War, as well as the tenacity and strength of this statesman in his fifties when a man attempts to assassinate him. Roosevelt gets shot as he prepares to give a campaign speech in 1912, and pulls the blood-soaked speech out of his pocket and continues delivering as his clothes become stained with blood. He remarked, "You see, it takes more than one bullet to kill a bull-moose." He gave a nearly one hour speech and then was rushed to the hospital and he survived, although he did not gain the Presidency again.

Theodore Roosevelt is one of the most engaging and enigmatic world leaders of the last century, and Edmund Morris does an incredible job telling his story. I highly recommend Colonel Roosevelt to anyone who wants to learn more about the life and influence, after the Presidency, of Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt, after his Presidency, continued to live life on an even bigger stage. May each one of us aspire to live our lives as fully as we can, and may we seek to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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