From Publishers Weekly
In a gripping account, Millard focuses on an episode in Teddy Roosevelt's search for adventure that nearly came to a disastrous end. A year after Roosevelt lost a third-party bid for the White House in 1912, he decided to chase away his blues by accepting an invitation for a South American trip that quickly evolved into an ill-prepared journey down an unexplored tributary of the Amazon known as the River of Doubt. The small group, including T.R.'s son Kermit, was hampered by the failure to pack enough supplies and the absence of canoes sturdy enough for the river's rapids. An injury Roosevelt sustained became infected with flesh-eating bacteria and left the ex-president so weak that, at his lowest moment, he told Kermit to leave him to die in the rainforest. Millard, a former staff writer for National Geographic
, nails the suspense element of this story perfectly, but equally important to her success is the marvelous amount of detail she provides on the wildlife that Roosevelt and his fellow explorers encountered on their journey, as well as the cannibalistic indigenous tribe that stalked them much of the way.
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Every critic enjoyed Millards yarn about an ex-presidents fervent desire for adventure and self-acceptance. By focusing on the vivid details of Roosevelts journey to the Amazon as well as his relationship with his son, Millard creates much more than your typical ho-hum adventure. The beauty of this story is not just that Roosevelts rich history could spawn a thousand adventure stories, but that Millards experience with National Geographic
is evident in her beautiful scenic descriptions and grisly depictions of the Amazons man-eating catfish, ferocious piranhas, white-water rapids, and prospect of starvation. A story deep in symbolism and thick with research, Millard succeeds where many have not; she has managed to contain a little bit of Teddy Roosevelts energy and warm interactions between the covers of her wonderful new book.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.