When Trumpets Call by Patricia O'Toole (Simon & Schuster, 2005).Read about all five titles on Williams' list.
"When Trumpets Call" is a superb, almost tactile examination of the journey that began on the day Theodore Roosevelt left the presidency in 1909, at age 50, and ended with his death in 1919. Patricia O'Toole beautifully chronicles the physical and intellectual restlessness that fueled the last decade of TR's life. His first project as a private citizen was to embark on an African safari. It was meant to be a low-key getaway from his clamorous public life, but it quickly turned into an expedition "of biblical proportions," O'Toole writes. TR's break from presidential politics was also short-lived: He campaigned as a third-party candidate in 1912, burnishing his legend by insisting on giving a speech in Milwaukee even though he was bleeding from a gunshot wound in the chest after a failed assassination attempt. TR's life was "one of the longest-running, most colorful serials in American history," O'Toole says, a story "by turns exhilarating, exasperating, amusing, and inspiring."