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I finished "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" by Edmund Morris today. It actually wasn't bad. I have an instinctive suspicion of modern Republicans (I've been up off by the recent crop of politicians I think) so I fully expected to dislike the guy but I didn't.

This book, which is supposed to be part of a trilogy I'm told, covers Roosevelt's early life, from his birth to a well meaning patrician father in New York to his finding out that he had ascended to the Presidency after the assassination of McKinley (the President who dies because they were poking round his intestines without anesthetic).

Roosevelt comes across as a sort of centrist patrician type (like Bush Snr.) with a common touch (unlike Bush Snr.), who loved his hunting and fishing as much for the scenery as for the hunting. By today's standards he is hideously patronizing to what he might call the "lesser races" (he seems to assume they should all aspire to being white, even though they would never achieve "caucasian class" for want of a phrase), but he is a product of his time so that shouldn't be all that surprising. It did make him make some odd decisions though, especially with regard to foreign policy.

All in all it's a balanced biography but I'm left with a couple of thoughts after reading it. Firstly, part of me thinks that he would struggle to get the nomination today (or even possibly be a Bill Clinton style center-right Democrat at a stretch) because of his centrist views. Secondly I don't think he'd have been nominated as Vice-President had people known he would ascend to the Presidency after taking office.

Americans presumably know a lot more about Roosevelt than I do (and so can correct my views on the guy if I'm wrong), but that's what I think of the guy at the moment!

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jamiebowen0306
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