WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE AND THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD • Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time
This classic biography is the story of seven men—a naturalist, a writer, a lover, a hunter, a ranchman, a soldier, and a politician—who merged at age forty-two to become the youngest President in history.
The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt begins at the apex of his international prestige. That was on New Year’s Day, 1907, when TR, who had just won the Nobel Peace Prize, threw open the doors of the White House to the American people and shook 8,150 hands. One visitor remarked afterward, “You go to the White House, you shake hands with Roosevelt and hear him talk—and then you go home to wring the personality out of your clothes.”
The rest of this book tells the story of TR’s irresistible rise to power. During the years 1858–1901, Theodore Roosevelt transformed himself from a frail, asthmatic boy into a full-blooded man. Fresh out of Harvard, he simultaneously published a distinguished work of naval history and became the fist-swinging leader of a Republican insurgency in the New York State Assembly. He chased thieves across the Badlands of North Dakota with a copy of Anna Karenina in one hand and a Winchester rifle in the other. Married to his childhood sweetheart in 1886, he became the country squire of Sagamore Hill on Long Island, a flamboyant civil service reformer in Washington, D.C., and a night-stalking police commissioner in New York City. As assistant secretary of the navy, he almost single-handedly brought about the Spanish-American War. After leading “Roosevelt’s Rough Riders” in the famous charge up San Juan Hill, Cuba, he returned home a military hero, and was rewarded with the governorship of New York. In what he called his “spare hours” he fathered six children and wrote fourteen books. By 1901, the man Senator Mark Hanna called “that damned cowboy” was vice president. Seven months later, an assassin’s bullet gave TR the national leadership he had always craved.
His is a story so prodigal in its variety, so surprising in its turns of fate, that previous biographers have treated it as a series of haphazard episodes. This book, the only full study of TR’s pre-presidential years, shows that he was an inevitable chief executive. “It was as if he were subconsciously aware that he was a man of many selves,” the author writes, “and set about developing each one in turn, knowing that one day he would be President of all the people.”
About the Author
Edmund Morris was born and educated in Kenya and attended college in South Africa. He worked as an advertising copywriter in London before immigrating to the United States in 1968. His first book, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1980. Its sequel, Theodore Rex, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography in 2001. In between these two books, Morris became President Reagan’s authorized biographer and wrote the national bestseller Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan. He then completed his trilogy on the life of the twenty-sixth president with Colonel Roosevelt, also a bestseller, and has published Beethoven: The Universal Composer and This Living Hand and Other Essays. Edison is his final work of biography. He was married to fellow biographer Sylvia Jukes Morris for fifty-two years. Edmund Morris died in 2019.
“Magnificent . . . one of those rare works that is both definitive for the period it covers and fascinating to read for sheer entertainment.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A towering biography . . . a brilliant chronicle.”—Time
“Theodore Roosevelt, in this meticulously researched and beautifully written biography, has a claim on being the most interesting man ever to be President of this country.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Spectacles glittering, teeth and temper flashing, high-pitched voice rasping and crackling, Roosevelt surges out of these pages with the force of a physical presence.”—The Atlantic Monthly
“[Morris’s] prose is elegant and at the same time hard and lucid, and his sense of narrative flow is nearly flawless. . . . The author re-creates a sense of the scene and an immediacy of the situation that any skilled writer should envy and the most jaded reader should find a joy.”—The Miami Herald
“A monumental work in every sense of the word . . . a book of pulsating and well-written narrative.”—The Christian Science Monitor