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The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey Paperback – October 10, 2006
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At once an incredible adventure narrative and a penetrating biographical portrait, The River of Doubt is the true story of Theodore Roosevelt's harrowing exploration of one of the most dangerous rivers on earth. The River of Doubt-it is a black, uncharted tributary of the Amazon that snakes through one of the most treacherous jungles in the world. Indians armed with poison-tipped arrows haunt its shadows; piranhas glide through its waters; boulder-strewn rapids turn the river into a roiling cauldron. After his humiliating election defeat in 1912, Roosevelt set his sights on the most punishing physical challenge he could find, the first descent of an unmapped, rapids-choked tributary of the Amazon. Together with his son Kermit and Brazil's most famous explorer, Candido Mariano da Silva Rondon, Roosevelt accomplished a feat so great that many at the time refused to believe it. In the process, he changed the map of the western hemisphere forever. Along the way, Roosevelt and his men faced an unbelievable series of hardships, losing their canoes and supplies to punishing whitewater rapids, and enduring starvation, Indian attack, disease, drowning, and a murder within their own ranks. Three men died, and Roosevelt was brought to the brink of suicide. The River of Doubt brings alive these extraordinary events in a powerful nonfiction narrative thriller that happens to feature one of the most famous Americans who ever lived. From the soaring beauty of the Amazon rain forest to the darkest night of Theodore Roosevelt's life, here is Candice Millard's dazzling debut.Binding - Paper.Pages - 432.Publisher - Anchor.Year - 2006.ISBN - 9780767913737..
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Millard's style is to take a major figure in history and focus on a single, often obscure slice of the figure's life. In her book on Churchill, it was his early adventures and the Boer Wars in South Africa. Here, she takes an historical look at Theodore Roosevelt's adventures in the Amazon Basin after his two terms as President and his devastating loss for a third term in the three-way race in 1912.
River of Doubt is a wonderful story of adventure and misadventure. Its backdrop is a tributary, previously unexplored by Westerners, of the Amazon. It has everything a reader would want: the mysteries and terror of the jungle, the incredible and deadly complexity of the river, the inept preparations for the adventure, the wild and unknown Indians of the region, needless deaths, murder, history, and the bigger-than-life story of the aging Teddy, his son, Kermit, and the rest of the exploration party.
I enjoyed it totally. Millard's Churchill book was good, but it suffered from often static setting, mostly in a Boer prison. This book has a built-in momentum, as the ill-prepared group make their way down the river into the unknown. It is the perfect story for Candice Millard, and she tells it perfectly.
This tale of Roosevelt's ill-conceived and ill-fated expedition through the Amazon reads almost as much like a novel as a documentary. I particularly enjoyed the insights into Roosevelt's personality - his earliest motivations and his rigorous discipline to refuse the hand early life dealt him. The same could be said of Captain Rondon, the Brazilian lead on the trip.
The science and history lessons are so integral to the story (or the story is so inherent in the science and history) that you'll likely find yourself smarter and wiser and more emotionally attuned to both nature and human nature for having read this book.
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No one like Theodore Roosevelt: author, ecologist, scientist, progressive statesman,...Read more