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The Early Word: New Books for the Week of November 22, 2010

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This week the accent’s on history and biography and a Kardashian or two…

Colonel Roosevelt
by Edmund Morris

The third volume of a trilogy after the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (1979) and the second Theodore Rex (2001), Edmund Morris’ ambitious 768-page Colonel Roosevelt covers the years after Theodore Roosevelt leaves the presidency in 1909 to his death in 1919. The definitive study of Roosevelt’s 60-year life, a mostly energetic and adventurous one, follows a president who wrote 40 books, traveled the Nile, hunted countless big game animals, founded a third political party, and survived an assassin’s bullet.

Upon his return into politics – spurred by his anger over Taft’s unfulfilled promise to carry out reform — came the Republican Party schism. Though the rank-and file favored Roosevelt, the Republican leaders didn’t, so T.R. abandoned the party for the historic three-way 1912 campaign, during which two progressives, Roosevelt and Wilson, battled it out, and Taft came in third. In this tooth and nail “Bull Moose” fight for the White House, Morris maintains that had TR won that campaign, World War I might have been forestalled.

Of course, a sometimes abusive Roosevelt had Taft and, especially, Wilson to kick around for a few years afterwards. When Wilson declined to bring the United States into World War I in 1915 and 1916, TR launched a barrage of unremitting criticism. Yet even Wilson had to admit that underneath lies an optimism and uprightness. “He is just like a big boy — there is a sweetness about him that you can’t resist.”

But Morris delves into more that just TR’s political and public life, broken up by the almost sensationalistic bloodlust he displays in his over-the-top hunting expeditions. In its comprehensiveness and conveyance of the subject’s universality, Colonel Roosevelt gives as much regard to TR’s literary achievements and to his family life – he was the father of six remarkably different children — his aesthetic and spiritual beliefs, and his enthusiastic acceptance of other cultures. These aspects and many more are further testaments to the prodigious 26th President’s declaration that, “I have enjoyed life as much as any nine men I know.”

MORE NONFICTION

The Day Dixie Died: The Battle of Atlanta
by Gary Ecelbarger

Kardashian Konfidential
by Kim Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
by Edmund Morris, Bob Loomis (Editor)

The Last Lingua Franca: English Until the Return of Babel
by Nicholas Ostler

America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag
by Sarah Palin

Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr, the Last Wife of Henry VIII
by Linda Porter

Catherine of Aragon: The Spanish Queen of Henry VIII
by Giles Tremlett

 

FICTION

Third Degree (Murder 101 Series #5)
by Maggie Barbieri

The Emperor’s Tomb (Cotton Malone Series #6)
by Steve Berry

Pathfinder
by Orson Scott Card

Troublemaker, Book 2 (Alex Barnaby Series #4), Vol. 4
by Janet Evanovich, Alex Evanovich, Joelle Jones (Artist), Andy Owens (Artist), Dan Jackson (Artist)

An Object of Beauty
by Steve Martin

The Athena Project: A Thriller
by Brad Thor

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About Gordon Hauptfleisch