The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey
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, Cândido 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.
It Gave me a New Appreciation for TR
By John D. Sherwood - December 5, 2005
Anyone who enjoyed Stephen Ambrose's Undaunted Courage or any other tale of exploration and hardship will love River of Doubt. Candice Millard's new book chronicles the expedition of Theodore Roosevelt and his Brazilian co-commander, Candido Mariano da Silva Rondon, down one of Amazon's last unexplored tributaries in 1914-the River of Doubt. The 400-mile river trip tested every ounce of the ex-president's intellect, courage, and physical stamina. Millard's book, therefore, is more a tale of survival than adventure.
Roosevelt and his American companions were woefully unprepared for their journey. They brought boats too large to be of use on a shallow river, and had to rely instead on Indian-made dugouts-canoes designed more for local transportation on flat water than long-distanced descents through rapids. The American and Brazilain members of the group often had to portage these heavy, waterlogged boats around rapids, which cost the group both time and precious food... read more
By Kat Bakhu - October 27, 2005
When I saw River of Doubt it struck me as a fascinating story and I immediately put in my order with Amazon. As I waited for it to arrive, I began to worry that I might have been too impulsive. Afterall, a fascinating story can be as limp as milk toast in the hands of a mediocre writer. I wondered if the author would bring Roosevelt's Amazon journey to life without adding so many extraneous details about Roosevelt himself that the real adventure was lost. Or, on the other hand, not supplying enough details about the central characters to allow me to understood the true context in which the adventure occurred.
After I got the book and started to read, all of my concerns were put aside. Completely. I know next to nothing about T. Roosevelt. Millard gave me what I needed to know to understand why he would take such a dangerous trip, at such a late age, in the first place.
She was equally masterful with all the other participants (many fascinating characters in their... read more
Roosevelt's Adventures on the Amazon
By C. Hutton "book maven" - October 29, 2005
There is a spate of books concerning Theodore Roosevelt's life: his New York years and first marriage, his cowboy days in the Dakota's, the Spanish-American War phrase and his presidency. Until last year, there were few books about his retirement decade until Patricia O'Toole's "When Trumpets Call." His dangerous exploration of the Amazon rain forest covers a mere 7 pages in Ms. O'Toole's biography. That exploration is the subject of "The River of Doubt."
Does this brief three month trip of discovery on the Rio da Duvida (River of Doubt) warrent a full scale book? In Ms. Millard's superb account of the near fatal expedition, the answer is yes. The former president was an adrenaline junkie who needed to forget his loss in the 1912 campaign for the White House. He found all the adventure he would ever crave on the Rio da Duvida, for he was way in over his head. If not for their guide, Colonel Candido Rondon, no one would have made it out alive -- Roosevelt's disappearance... read more
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