A remarkable portrait of one of our most remarkable presidents, When Trumpets Call focuses on Theodore Roosevelt's life after the White House. TR had reveled in his power and used it to enlarge the scope of the office, expand government's role in economic affairs, and increase U.S. influence abroad. Only fifty when he left the White House, he would spend the rest of his life longing to return.
Drawing from a wealth of new and previously unused sources, Patricia O'Toole, author of the highly acclaimed biography of Henry Adams and his friends, The Five of Hearts, conducts the first thorough investigation of the most eventful, most revealing decade of Roosevelt's life.
When he left office in March 1909, Roosevelt went on safari, leaving the political stage to William Howard Taft, the friend he had selected to succeed him. Home from Africa and gravely disappointed in Taft, he could not resist challenging Taft for the Republican nomination in 1912. When Taft bested him, Roosevelt formed the Bull Moose Party and ran for president on a third ticket, a move that split the Republican vote and put Woodrow Wilson in the White House.
In 1914, after the beginning of World War I, Roosevelt became the most vocal critic of Wilson's foreign policy, and two years later, hoping to oust Wilson, Roosevelt maneuvered behind the scenes in another failed bid for the Republican nomination. Turned down by Wilson in his request to raise troops and take them to France, TR helped his four sons realize their wish to serve, then pressured Washington to speed up the war effort. His youngest son was killed on Bastille Day, 1918. Theodore Roosevelt died six months later. His last written words were a reminder to himself to see the chairman of the Republican Party.
Surprising, original, deeply moving, When Trumpets Call is a portrait framed by a deeply human question: What happens to a powerful man when he loses power? Most of all, it is an unforgettable close-up of Theodore Roosevelt as he struggled not only to recover power but also to maintain a much-needed sense of purpose. Through her perceptive treatment of his last decade, Patricia O'Toole shows why Theodore Roosevelt still enjoys the affection and esteem of Americans across the political spectrum.
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Simon & Schuster
February 28, 2005
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Excerpt from When Trumpets Call by Patricia O'Toole
Chapter Four: Into the Thick of Things To travel with Theodore Roosevelt was to travel in a carnival led by a conjurer and trailed by an idolatrous throng. People were drawn by his energy and joy, qualities he possessed in quantities rarely found in persons over the age of eight. They wished for his courage, and if they did not always admire his pugnacity, they forgave it, for what was pugnacity but courage overspilling its banks? A conjurer beguiles by seeming guileless, and over the next three months Roosevelt would present himself as a former statesman on a grand tour, peregrinating from palace to palace, orating, collecting honors. Although few in Washington were deceived, the conjurer kept up the illusion, hoping, perhaps, to beguile himself.TR and Kermit had planned to dress up for their reunion with Edith and Ethel in Khartoum on March 14, but a mix-up with luggage forced TR into a stained shirt of gray flannel and a khaki suit impervious to beautification after a year in the bush. Junior Bwana, the dandy, hid his dishevelment under a duster.To Edith they looked splendid. Theodore had shed "that look of worry and care," she thought, and Kermit, although still "of the hatpin type," had gained muscle. He had also sprouted a wispy mustache.Would she like him to shave it off? he asked.She said it was lovely.In a hail of kisses from Theodore, Edith announced that their son Ted, twenty-two, was engaged. When Ethel told her father that Ted's fiancée, Eleanor Butler Alexander, would remind him of Edith, TR wrote her a welcoming letter and sent his congratulations to Ted.*Pledged to silence on American politics, Roosevelt uncaged his political energies on behalf of British imperialism. The petty warlords who long tyrannized Egypt and Sudan had been subdued by the English, but the natives were calling for independence, and an extremist in their number had just assassinated Egypt's prime minister for supporting new censorship rules imposed by the British. After only a day with his official hosts in Khartoum, the Colonel agreed to lecture the native officers on their duty to uphold British law. The Sudanese immediately protested, and the Colonel immediately returned their fire. Britain's successes in the region resembled his own struggle to build the Panama Canal, he said. Victory had come from standing fast in a barrage. In blood and pounds sterling, the price of pacifying the region had been immense, and Britain should resist the pressure to set a date for independence: "you are really ruling the country now and ruling it for its good, using Egyptians and Sudanese as your instrumentalities. You must indeed have a genius for government when you can so well manage a strange people like these."The speeches in Sudan pleased his English friends, angered the natives, and signaled his return to the political stage. By lecturing other governments, the conjurer pulled off the neat trick of keeping himself in the news while honoring his promise not to comment on American affairs. On March 20 he announced that the speech he planned to make when he landed in New York in June would neither praise nor criticize the administration of William Howard Taft. There was no need for TR to announce the speech, much less to characterize it, and the promise of neutrality was a veiled insult: withholding support from his chosen successor was tantamount to attacking him. Roosevelt was drawing a line between Taft and himself, drawing it publicly, and drawing it less than a week after emerging from his safari.The Colonel's utterances in Khartoum preceded him to Cairo, where they were received as an affront to the aspirations of the Egyptian people. Anxious British officials put Roosevelt in a cocoon of bodyguards and asked him not to mention the assassination when he spoke at Cairo University. He refused. Everyone was thinking about the slaying, and if he did not speak of it, he woul