PORTLAND, Maine — Of the 45 men who have served as president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt led the biggest, most exuberant, most colorful life. He was a rancher, expert on birds, voracious reader and prolific writer, police commissioner, naval historian, soldier, hunter, and explorer. “At every wedding, Theodore wants to be the bride,” a contemporary said of him. “At every funeral, he wants to be the corpse.”

Patricia O’Toole, a writer and historian from Camden, wrote a book about Roosevelt and has now written a biography of Woodrow Wilson, who entered the White House four years after TR departed. The two men could scarcely be more different. When he was only eighteen, Wilson—reserved, serious, austere--was described as “an old young man.”

“He was not a social creature,” O’Toole says of Wilson, even though he went into politics, a profession built on relationships with people. “I think of one of the most personable politicians of our time is Joe Biden. Wilson is as far away from Joe Biden as you can get.”

Despite his shortcomings as a backslapper, Wilson won the presidency after serving a mere two years as governor of New Jersey, his first job in elective office. What follows is a story of impressive victories followed by crushing defeats. O’Toole tells it in her new book, “The Moralist: Woodrow Wilson and the World He Made.” Morality was indeed central to Wilson’s governing philosophy. “The world is run by ideals,” he said. “Only the fool thinks otherwise.”