Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris
Continuing the story begun in Morris’ Pulitzer-prize winning The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, this volume details Roosevelt’s first two presidencies. Catapulted into the post upon McKinley’s assassination in 1901, it is amazing how quickly he adapts and fulfills his duties. No one expects a Vice-President to be a good president. In most cases, he is put on the ticket to placate one wing of the party.
Roosevelt is already somewhat of a folk hero for his exploits in the Spanish-American War. As Secretary of the Navy, he built the US Navy into a top-class fleet. This is all detailed in the highly readable first volume, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. Theodore Rex is much drier reading, being concerned with politics behind the scene in the building of the Panama Canal and his fight for anti-trust legislation. Theodore Roosevelt is also remembered for creating so many national parks and preserving forest land.
Up for re-election in 1904, he is gratified to be selected by the people as their president this time around. He made a national tour and met thousands of people. His hearty and sometimes less-than-dignified personality won him popularity. His speech was peppered with expressions like”Bully!” (when he was pleased ) or often “Dee-lighted!” He was a powerful public speaker. In spite of his charismatic persona, I struggled to finish this tome. It wasn’t nearly as enthralling as The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt which I definitely recommend! I am wondering whether or not to buy the final volume on Roosevelt. Hopefully, the latter part of Roosevelt’s life is more colorful and readable!