Theodore Renatus

Monday, October 27, 2008

Two of the best biographies I have ever read** are authored by Sir Edmund Morris, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. His second book in his three-volume chronicle of Theodore Roosevelt is called Theodore Rex. Morris is a gifted writer whose genre of choice isn't always very exciting.
Could be though that in this case, Morris' subject was...pretty damn exciting.

At any rate, Morris did a mock-interview in today's New York Times, asking modern questins but answering them with actual Roosevelt quotes. What you get are Morris' conjecture about how Roosevelt may actually have answered these questions, based on what Morris knows about Roosevelt's mindset (which again, after devoting the time it takes to write three biographies about the guy, should be a pretty good idea...).

Go check it out. It's at least funny, if not also insightful.

**Biographies tend to be pretty damn dull (see: David McCullough's "John Adams." Szzzznnnkkkkkzzz....), but these were well-written and almost story-like. It's a tactic that got Morrris in a little trouble with the Reagan estate.


Sopor 5:55 PM  

That's an intersting read! I love the end especially:

"Q. What’s your impression of President Bush these days?

A. (suddenly serious) He looks like Judas, but unlike that gentleman has no capacity for remorse.

Q. Is that the best you can say of him?

A. I wish him well, but I wish him well at a good distance from me.

Q. One last question, Colonel. If you were campaigning now, would you still call yourself a Republican?

A. (after a long pause) No."

I love the "good distance from me" remark... and I would like to hope that Morris is right about Teddy not aligning himself with the modern Republican Party!

steves 6:56 PM  

Interesting and funny, but I have never been a big fan this kind of cinjecture, no matter how well informed. I think it may be possible to make some guesses as to how someone from the past may interpret modern events, but that gets harder when that person is further removed from this era.

He should have just interviewed himself instead of using TR to make a political statement, IMO. I heard an Obama interview on past Supreme Court justices that he admires. He concedes that he has no way of knowing how they would decide things if they were somehow on today's court, nor would he know if they would make good decisions (I am paraphrasing here). I thought that was a really good answer.

the infamous roger 11:04 PM  

smitty, you need to read ron chernow. specifically, Hamilton and Titan.

Smitty 8:00 AM  

Actually, steves, I thought the piece was more for entertainment value than an actual attempt at saying that Teddy would vote for Obama.

steves 9:55 AM  

I know, it is just a pet peeve of mine. I frequently hear about the rolling around in grave of the founding fathers used in respose to a variety of policy positions, so that line of thinking always sticks in my craw.

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