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July 05, 2016

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

The Rise of Theodore RooseveltThe Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

By: Edmund Morris

If you’re like me, it’s possible you’re underwhelmed by the choices of candidates for the upcoming presidential election. The press coverage has been unrelenting and nauseating. Neither candidate has high approval ratings and it’s likely a large number of Americans will simply stay home instead of voting on November 8th. With that in mind, I decided to ignore the news for the time being and immerse myself during an era in our nation’s history where strong leadership had a significant impact for most Americans.

The first book in Morris’ three volume set on Theodore Roosevelt covers his life from his sickly upbringing in New York to being elected as Vice President for William McKinley. While some storylines regarding Roosevelt are familiar, many will be surprised at his inexhaustible energy, intelligence, and enormous sense of calm during difficult times. We saw a wide range of events from the catastrophic loss of his mother and wife within eleven hours of each other to his reckless bravery during the Spanish-American War. Roosevelt’s time out west in North Dakota was life-changing despite being a financial disaster. His absolute sense of right and wrong is on display as he enforces an unpopular liquor law as a New York City Police Commissioner and even brazenly attends a parade opposed towards its enforcement. Some might even be surprised to find out that the main reason Teddy was nominated as Vice President was because the Republican leadership in New York wanted him out of their state and in a useless role in Washington D.C. Nevertheless, his meteoric rise was not without many severe hardships that would have ruined most other men.

Morris doesn’t sugarcoat Roosevelt and is quick to give praise and criticism where it’s due. Roosevelt’s resilience during the first forty years of his life is inspiring. In addition, one can’t help be emboldened by the famous quote attributed to him that aptly describes the man: “Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action.” These are encouraging words to read and emulate during these uncertain times.

Review By:  Brad Howell