In the early afternoon of September 13, 1901, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was eating lunch on his descent from the top of Mount Marcy where he no doubt had contemplated his future not only in politics but in life. Now just hours after possibly concluding that his political fortunes would descend as he would from the mountain top, a ranger baring a yellow telegram message came into view that would mark the end of “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt” not in political obscurity but it’s mountain top.
Edmund Morris ended the first volume of his biography of Theodore Roosevelt on the cusp of becoming President of the United States after detailing Roosevelt’s life to that point from his birth in October 1858. Along the way, Morris shows the development of Roosevelt’s views from youth to maturity, in life and in politics. While descriptive and showing fascination with his subject, Morris does not gush upon Roosevelt forgiveness when confronted with demeaning views, speeches, and writings that to the 21st century would raise our eyebrows.
The detail Morris shows in this biography on almost a daily basis bring Roosevelt to life, first as a unhealthy child who fascination for learning about the natural world was cultivated by his father who also encourage him to build up his body as well as his mind. Roosevelt’s transformation from a fashionable dandy undergraduate at Harvard yearn for reform in politics into the political Rough Rider that was about to assume the Presidency is a long process that Morris shows the reader so well, the reader doesn’t realize it until almost the end of the volume.
From seeing Roosevelt at the height of his power in the prologue then see his rise, both slow and meteoric, through the epilogue, Morris hooks the reader in and makes them eagerly anticipate what will be seen on the next page. I can not recommend enough “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt” by Edmund Morris to every student of history and to anyone who loves political biographies.