(Patricia E. O'Toole)
CAREER: Writer, columnist, biographer, and educator. Columbia University School of the Arts, New York, NY, professor of nonfiction and lecturer in writing. Served on nonfiction panel of judges for National Book Awards; judge for PEN Award for first book of nonfiction; member of fellows' executive committee of MacDowell Colony; guest curator at National Portrait Gallery.
AWARDS, HONORS: Pulitzer Prize finalist, National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, and Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist, all c. 1990, all for The Five of Hearts: An Intimate Portrait of Henry Adams and His Friends, 1880–1918; Front Page Award for distinguished commentary, Emma Award, National Women's Political Caucus and Radcliffe College, and an Excellence in Media Award, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination (GLAAD), for magazine work; Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching, Columbia University, 2004.
Corporate Messiah: The Hiring and Firing of Million-Dollar Managers, Morrow (New York, NY), 1984.
Money and Morals in America: A History, Clarkson Potter (New York, NY), 1998.
When Trumpets Call: Theodore Roosevelt after the White House, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor to periodicals, including New York Times and Smithsonian. Author of column for Lear's.
SIDELIGHTS: Author and biographer Patricia O'Toole is a lecturer in writing and professor of nonfiction in the Graduate Writing Division of Columbia University's School of the Arts. A frequent contributor to newspapers and magazines, her work often focuses on social, cultural, and economic subjects. O'Toole is also the recipient of several awards, including a Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching at Columbia University, where she was chosen from among the 164 Columbia faculty members nominated for the honor.
In Corporate Messiah: The Hiring and Firing of Million-Dollar Managers, O'Toole examines the career course of several top-level corporate executives in America, in particular how those highly paid positions ended. She looks at Archie McCardell's ouster from International Harvester and Roy Ash's departure from AM International. She outlines the conflicts between noted programming executive Fred Silverman and Jane Cahill Pfeiffer at NBC. She also offers more positive stories, such as an explanation of how celebrity exec Lee Iacocca saved Chrysler from imminent doom. "Seen from the distance of a couple of years, and with all the parts neatly assembled, these and other sagas can make entertaining, if unenlightening, reading," commented John A. Byrne in Forbes.
O'Toole again addresses business and financial issues in Money and Morals in America: A History, a "critique of free-market economics," noted William H. Peterson in Insight on the News. In thirteen biographical portraits of prominent Americans, she ponders the "often uncomfortable relationship between money and morals," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer. She considers both those who accumulated great wealth and those who turned away from material gain in order to live with greater morality. Among her subjects are Henry Thoreau and his austere cabin near Walden Pond; Andrew Carnegie, wealthy philanthropist whose endowments funded many cultural and social institutions; Whitney Young, head of the Urban League; and the priests and nuns of the Interfaith Center of Corporate Responsibility, a group that demands corporate boards of directors to exhibit at least a hint of morality in their business actions. At the heart of O'Toole's examination is the question of whether or not the rich have an obligation to consider and react to the lives of those less fortunate than themselves. Ultimately, she concludes that they do have such a responsibility. "O'Toole sees unchecked greed doing the devil's work, creating tension between wealth and commonwealth, between private gain and public good, between money and morals," Peterson remarked. The fundamental conflict is between doing good and doing well, and O'Toole "proclaims that Americans have been waging this battle since colonial times," stated Booklist reviewer David Rouse.
A finalist for a number of awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, The Five of Hearts: An Intimate Portrait of Henry Adams and His Friends, 1880–1918 is a "vivid composite biography" of historian Adams, diplomat John Hay, their wives, Clover Adams and Clara Hay, and geologist-adventurer Clarence King, noted Genevieve Stuttaford in Publishers Weekly. A stellar assortment of literary and political luminaries intersected with the Adams and Hay families, including Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, Theodore Roosevelt, Henry James, Henry Cabot Lodge, William Dean Howells, and other prominent citizens of America's storied Gilded Age. Clover Adams's 1885 suicide serves as the pivotal point in the lives of important and influential opinion-makers in the last twenty years of the nineteenth century and the first two decades of the twentieth century.
When Trumpets Call: Theodore Roosevelt after the White House traces Roosevelt's post-presidential life and his profound dissatisfaction with finding himself outside of the seat of power. O'Toole's biography "offers yet another insight into the man who not only breathed life and exuberance into the presidency, but who also never stopped running for president," observed Constance McGovern in America. After leaving the U.S. presidency at the relatively young age of fifty, Roosevelt struggled to redefine himself and unsuccessfully fought the urge to reclaim his power and influence. Following the election of Roosevelt's own chosen successor, William Howard Taft, Roosevelt left for a year-long expedition in Africa, where he and his party shot, ostensibly for scientific purposes, more than 500 animals. Upon returning to the United States, Roosevelt realized he was not as happy with Taft as he had thought; the two men differed on many issues, and Taft had followed his own agenda rather than any legacy left by Roosevelt. In response, Roosevelt mounted a hurtful campaign against Taft while he himself sought, unsuccessfully, to regain the presidency.
O'Toole's "splendid new account" of Roosevelt's post-White House years is "a lovely, unpretentiously learned tale of a great man who could never master his own ambition," commented Jon Meacham in Newsweek. "O'Toole has written the definitive account of TR's postpresidential years," concluded Library Journal contributor William D. Pederson. Ultimately, Roosevelt emerges as "a mighty—and mighty trying—soul, very capably and vigorously scrutinized here," commented a Kirkus Reviews critic. O'Toole's work "adds greatly to our understanding of Theodore Roosevelt's character, values, and his legacy," stated Terry Hartle in Christian Science Monitor. "O'Toole's marvelous study is a must read for anyone who loves or hates TR," remarked Kathleen Dalton in Boston Globe. "Her compelling storytelling and magnificent research bring alive once more Roosevelt in all his overflowing and boisterous energy."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
America, April 4, 2005, Constance McGovern, "The Conjurer," review of When Trumpets Call: Theodore Roosevelt after the White House, p. 31.
Booklist, May 1, 1998, David Rouse, review of Money and Morals in America: A History, p. 1479; February 15, 2005, Brad Hooper, review of When Trumpets Call, p. 1055.
Boston Herald, March 6, 2005, Kathleen Dalton, "Evenings on Horseback," review of When Trumpets Call.
Campaigns & Elections, May, 2005, Ron Faucheux, review of When Trumpets Call, p. 46.
Christian Science Monitor, March 22, 2005, Terry Hartle, "Rough Rider Redux," review of When Trumpets Call.
Forbes, July 2, 1984, John A. Byrne, review of Corporate Messiah: The Hiring and Firing of Million-Dollar Managers, p. 172.
Insight on the News, June 15, 1998, William H. Peterson, review of Money and Morals in America, p. 36.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2005, review of When Trumpets Call, p. 39.
Library Journal, April 15, 1998, Charles K. Piehl, review of Money and Morals in America, p. 94; February 1, 2005, William D. Pederson, review of When Trumpets Call, p. 99.
Newsweek, March 7, 2005, Jon Meacham, "An Old Lion's Last Roar: Why TR Could Never Really Master His Own Ambition," review of When Trumpets Call, p. 55.
New York Times, March 3, 2005, Janet Maslin, "After Glory, a Rough Rider Chafes at Being a HasBeen," review of When Trumpets Call; March 20, 2005, Jeff Shesol, "Not Speaking Softly," review of When Trumpets Call.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 17, 2005, Bob Hoover, "Life after White House a Struggle for Roosevelt," review of When Trumpets Call.
Publishers Weekly, March 2, 1990, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of The Five of Hearts: An Intimate Portrait of Henry Adams and His Friends, 1880–1918, p. 67; March 9, 1998, review of Money and Morals in America, p. 54; January 10, 2005, review of When Trumpets Call, p. 45.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 6, 2005, Harry Levins, "Post-Presidential Teddy Roosevelt," review of When Trumpets Call.
Washington Post, March 3, 2005, Jonathan Yardley, "A Last, Rough Ride," review of When Trumpets Call.
Bookreporter.com, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (July 9, 2005), Colleen Quinn, review of When Trumpets Call.
Columbia University Web site, http://www.columbia.edu/ (July 9, 2005), "Faculty, Students Receive 2004 Presidential Teaching Awards."