For the general reader with an interest in American history, but perhaps not enough devotion to plow through the 800-plus pages of Edmund Morris' fine volume on TR, there will soon be another option for learning about Roosevelt and the 41 other men who have held the presidency. Times Books, an imprint of Henry Holt, is launching a new series of brief and accessible biographies of the American presidents. The first volume, out this month, is Theodore Roosevelt by noted novelist and historian Louis Auchincloss. The series is edited by acclaimed historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. and will offer what the publisher describes as "penetrating, meditation-length biographic essays" on each president. Volumes due out later this year include James Madison by Garry Wills, Grover Cleveland by Henry Graff and John Quincy Adams by Robert V. Remini.
Auchincloss' portrait of Teddy Roosevelt is concise but thorough, giving a clear picture of the man who was known as much for his personal image as for his historical accomplishments. One chapter is devoted to excerpts from TR's presidential correspondence, and the letters offer a revealing glimpse of a man who was at once frank, judgmental, wise and tender.