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The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey Paperback – October 10, 2006
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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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.
I found especially interesting what the outfitters of the expedition thought (incorrectly) would be necessary for the trip, with often disastrous results. The men selected to outfit the trip were an arctic explorer and a priest, neither of whom had any experience with South America or the Amazon, and thus terrible decisions were made. The opinion of the book club was that they might have been better provided for if women had been the outfitters, because appropriate food, extra pairs of dry socks and underwear would have taken precedence over hauling a crate of Kermit's favorite book through the Amazon, as well as the cavier, chocolate, liquor, and other luxuries. Interesting insight into how foolish we humans can be and the price we sometimes pay for it.
This was a fascinating read, but what I loved was that I learned so much from this book, about TR, about the river and jungle, and about human nature at its best and worst. I have so much respect for this author because this is a very well-written and well-research book.
The book is well researched, and there is more than enough drama to hold anyone's interest. There are threats from unseen Indians. There is little game to replenish their provisions and sustain the men. Of course, they are nearly eaten alive by insects on a daily basis. Snakes and piranhas are in abundance. The river itself, with its impassable rapids and falls, thwart the expedition to the point of despair, disease, exhaustion and very-near starvation. The men are forced to portage, dragging their supplies and heavy dugout canoes, long stretches of the river many times daily. Everyone is suffering and pushed to the limits of their endurance. Men steal from the food rations. Malaria is rampant, and particularly plagues Roosevelt's son, Kermit, who has accompanied him on the expedition, ostensibly to keep an eye on and protect his father. His father worries about Kermit's declining health instead and wishes Kermit had not come. Roosevelt, himself loses a quarter of his body weight and, for several weeks, hovers near death from an infection.
Previous to this book, I read Candace Millard's Destiny of the Republic about James Garfield. I feel the Garfield book is a much better work, superb really. The writing was superior to this one and the story flowed so well, it was hard to put it down. While I can still recommend The River of Doubt, Millard interrupts Roosevelt's journey countless times to provide us with pages and pages of information and history of the wildlife, insects, Indians and plant life of the Amazon. While this was interesting, I would have preferred it in a separate book or within the already long epilogue at the end. The river never stopped flowing, and I was wishing the story didn't either.
Most recent customer reviews
The epilogue of the expedition member's lives is fun.