In This Review

Theodore Rex
Theodore Rex
By Edmund Morris
Random House, 2001, 772 pp

Morris elicited much controversy and scorn for his 1999 biography of Ronald Reagan, Dutch. Put that argument to one side. This well-written book is a superior account of the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, backed by first-rate research. Above all, Morris finds a rare balance that blends personal story with policy analysis, judiciously sifting the key issues of the Roosevelt administration. His interpretations of the crisis with Germany over Venezuela, the building of the Panama Canal, and the mediation of the Russo-Japanese War are sound without being heavy-handed. He has a good sense for the process of diplomacy at that time as well as for the underlying substance. George W. Bush has announced that he enjoyed this book. Reading it was a good use of his time. A century ago, the United States was entering a new era as it tried to define a global role. Thanks in large part to the force of Roosevelt's own intellect and style -- which was much more carefully calculated than contemporaries realized -- America emerged as a great and respected power in a rapidly changing world.