Edmund Morris

In their post-presidential retirements, George W. Bush has written a memoir and Bill Clinton redeemed himself as a popular Democratic fundraiser. Teddy Roosevelt did as much before breakfast, then went on safari in Africa and nearly died exploring the River of Doubt in Brazil. In his third biographical volume, Colonel Roosevelt (Random House, $35), Edmund Morris chronicles the last decade of a great American life. And what a rich decade it was: touring Europe, the Bull Moose campaign of 1912, lobbying for an earlier American involvement to forestall World War I, and pushing President Wilson in a more progressive direction. Roosevelt’s capaciousness today seems like Republican Party contradiction: both hunter and conservationist, a champion of the military who also warned against big business. You can’t imagine him standing on the same stage with today’s puny White House pretenders Romney, Huckabee, Pawlenty, and Palin (she’s on TLC, Roosevelt’s carved on Mount Rushmore). Morris earned a Pulitzer for his first TR volume; the third is both large (over 700 pages) and sad. Roosevelt survives an assassin’s bullet but later faces mortality in Brazil. He enters the jungle as the most famous politician on Earth, but he leaves—carried on a stretcher—an old man. BRIAN MILLER

Fri., Dec. 10, 7 p.m., 2010

 
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