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The Fire of Life (1910-1919) 

T.R. runs for a third term as a Progressive, explores the Amazon and suffers one final grave loss in his twilight years. FDR as President Wilson's Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Eleanor faces life's harsh realities. America in WWI.


Ken Burns


Ken Burns




Episode credited cast:
Peter Coyote ... Self - Narrator (voice)
Geoffrey C. Ward Geoffrey C. Ward ... Self - Biographer
Clay Jenkinson ... Self - Historian
Jonathan Alter ... Self - Writer
Patricia O'Toole Patricia O'Toole ... Self - Biographer
Doris Kearns Goodwin ... Self - Historian
George F. Will ... Self - Writer
Kathleen Dalton Kathleen Dalton ... Self - Biographer
Candice Millard Candice Millard ... Self - Writer
David McCullough ... Self - Historian
Jon Meacham ... Self - Biographer
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
William Jennings Bryan ... Self (archive footage)
Keith Carradine ... (voice)
Patricia Clarkson ... (voice)
Kevin Conway ... (voice)


FDR, now 28 years old, first sought and won elected office in 1910 when he ran for a seat in the New York state senate. He ran and won as a Democrat and his party did well in these midterm elections. In Albany, he proved to be a force to be reckoned with and led a group of senators opposing the governor's nominee to the U,S. Senate. He was reelected in 1912 but accepted the post of Assistant Secretary of the Navy in the Wilson administration. Teddy Roosevelt decided as early as 1910 that he would again seek the Republican nomination for president. The party bosses however had other plans forcing TR to run as a third party candidate. His campaign was poorly organized and while campaigning in Milwaukee he was shot in the chest, forcing him to suspend his campaign. In the end, he split the vote leading to the election of Woodrow Wilson. His last hurrah was his expedition down the amazon, a grueling trip that almost killed him. With the advent of World War I, both Franklin and Teddy sided... Written by garykmcd

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User Reviews

TR finally buys the farm.
21 December 2015 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

Much of this episode concerns Teddy Roosevelt and his post- presidency life, though it also dealt with FDRs rise to national prominence.

As for Teddy, he was now very bored as his promise to not run for another term came to bite him in the butt. Although Taft was a capable president, he wasn't Teddy...and Teddy now was considering running again. Unfortunately, he was not popular among Republican insiders and was unable to gain the Republican nomination. As a result, he ran (and lost) with a third party. Then, during much of the Wilson administration, Teddy complained because Wilson wasn't enough of a war-monger, as Teddy thought it would be great fun if American soldiers ALSO would litter the fields of France. Wilson ignored Teddy, as a fat and somewhat nutty ex-president was NOT a guy you want to send into action. So, Teddy convinced his sons to join as soon as the US declared war and they had bully fun...except for Quentin, who had the nerve to die in action.

As for Franklin, he now was the assistant secretary of the Navy-- just like TR had been. And throughout the 1910s he made a name for himself as a somewhat abrasive little jerk. Even Franklin admitted this was the case.

All in all, another well made episode of the Ken Burns series-- interesting throughout and very well constructed.

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Release Date:

16 September 2014 (USA) See more »

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Florentine Films See more »
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