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The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey Hardcover – October 18, 2005
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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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From Bookmarks Magazine
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.
Top customer reviews
After losing his election for a third term as an independent Progressive party candidate, Teddy Roosevelt decides to embark on a challenging journey along Brazil's River of Doubt along with approximately thirty other men in his party, including his son Kermit. Most of the party consisted of Brazilian cameradas, tough men familiar with the wilderness. However, there were an approximate handful of Americans who took the journey as well. The purpose was to explore and charter this unknown river.
However, what the men encountered and experienced was truly a nightmare. (Spoiler Alert) One of them died from murder, another from drowning, and the rest almost died from disease and starvation. The adventure most certainly did not go as planned. The party had to struggle with all sorts of menacing insects, hostile native tribes, a very dangerous river, diseases, loss of supplies, and a merciless natural rainforest.
I truly encourage anyone to read The River of Doubt. One really gets to appreciate and admire what explorers of unknown territories really went through.
Theodore Roosevelt was one of the most original characters in American history (see Edmund Morris' three volume biography). His life was filled with challenging, courageous adventures, and this was surely his most challenging and most courageous. It is a wonder any member of this expedition lived to tell about it. It is impossible to put down this compelling story. Millard has thoroughly researched, painstakingly organized, and masterfully written this book. Her writing style is fluid and spell-binding.
My only criticism relates to a small bit of her history. Among the many dangers encountered by this expedition was being stalked by a Stone Age Indian tribe, the Cinta Larga. The Cinta Larga was so isolated that civilization did not make contact with them until the late 1960s, more than a half century after they stalked the Roosevelt mission. Yet the book tells us in significant detail what these invisible stalkers were thinking and discussing as they were deciding whether to attack the Roosevelt mission. I was so surprised by this that after I finished the book, I searched her notes for some factual basis for these assertions. Her notes indicate that she interviewed some members of the tribe, but that must have been at least three generations after the events recorded. While she may have some basis for speculating on what went through the minds of the stalkers, I would have preferred for her to temper that part of the chronicle with "probably" and "likely," rather than reporting it as fact. But that criticism should not be read as tainting the book as a whole, which is superb.
I highly recommend this book.
Millard is a natural story teller, with the ability to intertwine multiple lines into one fluid story. It was extremely well researched, as I learned some fascinating things about nature that I had never heard of before. The section on the Amazon predators and parasites was absolutely fascinating.
A very compelling story about an interesting person.