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The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey Paperback – October 10, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Ferrone's gravelly, stentorian, hushed voice sounds downright presidential in reading the story of this little-known event from ex-Commander-in-Chief Theodore Roosevelt's postpolitical life. After losing his third-party run for the 1912 presidential election, Roosevelt agreed to accompany a Brazilian explorer on a trip along the Amazon, hoping to map the river's uncharted path. Expecting an uneventful trip, Roosevelt and his party barely managed to escape with their lives. Ferrone adopts a strange tone when providing Roosevelt's voice, attempting to echo his famously brusque boom and sounding oddly strangled in the process. His reading is on steadier ground in conveying the sweep of Millard's prose, uniting the personal drama of the Roosevelt family with the naturalist investigations of the voyage. Ferrone carries the narrative along on the waves of his own raspy, gruff instrument, shuttling readers through Millard's book with a steely self-assurance reminiscent of its subject. Simultaneous release with the Doubleday hardcover (Reviews, July 11). (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Theodore Roosevelt could get himself into the darnest messes and he sure did with this Amazon adventure.
But he managed to get himself out of it successfully as he always did and we're the lucky ones to enjoy the telling of it.
It you're a TR fan this is a must read for you.
Not a boring minute on the whole excursion and not a boring second in the whole book.
You'll certainly be glad you read it.
Now I'm going back to read it again. And probably many more times. It's that good.
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.
The expedition's difficulties were almost beyond belief, and even after finishing the book, it was difficult to imagine how Roosevelt or anyone else survived the ordeal. No wonder that some critics were initially skeptical of the expedition's success.
The expedition included a number of colorful characters, and Theodore Roosevelt is clearly the celebrity of the group, but other characters, including Roosevelt's son Kermit and the Brazilian frontiersman Candido Rondon, are portrayed vividly as real people, not just bit players in Roosevelt's great adventure. One of the most fascinating elements of the book is the interplay between the characters as the extreme hardships of the journey brought out the strengths and weaknesses of the participants.
Besides being a really superb chronicle of the journey, the book is full of fascinating information about rain forest dynamics, which explained why the expedition had so little success in finding food along the way. After reading River of Doubt, I have no desire to go wandering around in the Brazilian jungles!
A really good, well written adventure story that I recommend to anyone.
The reviews aren't wrong. This is a very well-written book in many regards. I knew Teddy Roosevelt was a prolific man of adventure and action, but this book takes the reader on a journey that is unexpected and interesting.
I know nothing of this journey and was really working through this book. It really is that good.
Well worth reading.