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From the New York Times bestselling author, an acclaimed biography of President Teddy Roosevelt
Lauded as "a rip-roaring life" (Wall Street Journal), TR is a magisterial biography of Theodore Roosevelt by bestselling author H.W. Brands. In his time, there was no more popular national figure than Roosevelt. It was not just the energy he brought to every political office he held or his unshakable moral convictions that made him so popular, or even his status as a bonafide war hero. Most important, Theodore Roosevelt was loved by the people because this scion of a privileged New York family loved America and Americans.
And yet, according to Brands, if we look at the private Roosevelt without blinders, we see a man whose great public strengths hid enormous personal deficiencies; he was uncompromising, self-involved, and a highly imperfect brother, husband, and father.
Beautifully written, and powerfully moved by its subject, TR is the classic biography of one of America's greatest and most complex leaders.
At 35, after failing at cattle ranching in the Dakotas and a career lagging in Washington in minor political office, Roosevelt (1858-1919) was offered an appointment by the mayor of New York City as commissioner of street cleaning. "If the job had had a more illustrious title," speculates Brands (Reckless Decade), "he might have accepted it. As it was, he nearly did." A few years later--with no military experience--he was second in command of a volunteer cowboy cavalry unit in Cuba, "The Rough Riders"; then governor of New York; McKinley's vice president; and, after a fortuitous assassination, U.S. president in 1901. The myopic, asthmatic, restless Roosevelt, with little but family connections and modest financial independence, as well as a bit of luck, had brazened his way to the White House. Although Edmund Morris (in 1979) and David McCullough (1981) have produced acclaimed biographies, neither was followed up by a life of T.R. at the top. Brands's narrative is lucid, fast-moving and unblinded by hero worship. In a single volume he has packed Roosevelt's 60 years of ambition, adventure, expediency, achievement and, finally, frustration at having peaked too soon. According to Brands, T.R. is more a romantic in his capacity for self-delusion than in his self-image as romantic hero, with rectitude as his ideal and a stableful of political and financial bosses as villains. As one Roosevelt watcher observed, "You had to hate the Colonel a whole lot to keep from loving him."