Top critical review
A Solid, but Uninspired, Biography
Reviewed in the United States on March 12, 2001
The early years of T.R.'s life are well defined and interesting in this solid biography. However, once T.R becomes President things seem a bit rushed. It's almost as if the author lost interest in his subject once he entered the White House.
Brands is sympathetic, but even-handed in his assessments of Roosevelt's' strengths and faults. One easily accepts Brands premise that much of Roosevelt's life was spent over-compensating for his early frail health and is as amused as the author clearly is at Roosevelt's occasional macho antics.
Brands frequently quotes Roosevelt to good effect and provides some historical background. However, I would have liked to see more of a historical overview during T.R.'s two terms in office as President and especially his run for a third term at the head of the "Bull Moose" Progressive Party. This critical period of T.R. (and the Republican Party's) life does not come across in enough detail or context.
Overall, unless you're a T.R. buff or a die hard biography fan, I'd give this 800+ page book a pass. Much better to read his truly excellent biography of Ben Franklin, The First American.