TR might find some troubling parallels with today's current political scene and his own time were he to serve as president today.
"The two things that he would fear most are the threat to the environment that current pro-corporate political conservatives espouse. Secondly, the anti-democratic nature of unrestrained corporate power," Morris said.
In 1912, as in 2012, what he would find relevant between the two eras, said the biographer, "is the power of Wall Street to influence politics. The excessive domination by unregulated corporations on the American scene.
"His big philosophy was regulation. In that sense, he would be more of a Democrat today than he would be a Republican."
And Roosevelt would no doubt be troubled by corporate influence on both sides of the aisle, said Morris.
"He would note how many bankers there are surrounding Obama, and he would note how overwhelmingly influential corporate money is in both campaigns. And that would freeze his blood. He was always leery of unrestrained corporate power."
As for a prime example of a legacy of Roosevelt's time in the White House, Morris quickly lands on one word.
"Without question, conservation. He was the president who put conservation into the social agenda. He popularized it and made it a worldwide movement. Before him, just a few scientists and intellectuals were on to the subject, but TR personified and popularized it. He created a huge swath of protected wilderness in the United States -- national parks, national monuments, national refuges."
Having followed TR throughout his long, eventful career, was there anything about his character or life story that troubled Morris?
"I've never been able to come to terms with his bloodlust, his love of killing animals, which was lifelong," he said.
Roosevelt was no average hunter plunking a deer now and then. Consider the African hunting expedition and Smithsonian specimen-collection trip Roosevelt took with his son Kermit in 1909, along with a crew of nearly 250 porters and guides. They slew 512 beasts, including 17 lions, 11 elephants and 20 rhinoceroses.
"I've never been able to understand it because he passionately loved animals and all forms of life and was in fact a lifelong natural historian whose love of nature was palpable," Morris said. "So, how he could kill with such pleasure I've never been able to figure out."
Yet after all is said and done, few figures like TR have stalked the world stage, he said.
"There have been powerful statesmen since TR, of course, but none of them in any country I am aware of had his kind of cosmopolitan sophistication. Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Truman, LBJ -- all these strong presidents, all the strong prime ministers in Britain, have all been politicians and not particularly cultured outside politics," he said.
TR did his homework and then some. "Because he was so erudite, and read a book a day in many languages, he understood foreign cultures as no subsequent American president has done," Morris said.
That's an exaggeration, right?
"Not exaggerating, it's a well-known fact," responded Morris. "On average, he read a book a day. He was a speed-reader and mentally photographed every book he read. He was quite capable of declaiming stuff he'd read 25 years later."
This ability proved useful in lands other than America, he added. So, when he went to the Middle East, he could talk about Arab literature and Islam, and when he went to Germany, he could recite the Germanic epic poem "The Nibelungenlied," Morris said. "In other words, he understood foreign cultures, and that's what made him such an effective diplomat."
After all these years with TR living inside his head, does Morris miss him now that the trilogy is complete?
"No," he said with a laugh. "I find it almost hard to talk about him these days, in the sense that I've really said goodbye to him. I've killed him off and buried him."
As for what comes next, biography-wise?
"Now, I'm much more interested in Thomas Edison," said Morris.
Reach Douglas Imbrogno at doug...@cnpapers.com or 304-348-3017.