Book Review Thursday: River of Doubt

RiverOfDoubtThis book by Candice Millard tells more than the story of the harrowing journey Theodore Roosevelt’s expedition took down an uncharted Amazonian river in 1914.  The book, in many ways, reads more like a biography of Roosevelt’s life, given the amount of background history which is woven throughout the book.

Theodore Roosevelt, born a sickly and asthmatic child, spent his life looking for challenges.  The list of his accomplishments is long and impressive, from leading the Rough Riders up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War of 1898 to serving as both Governor of New York and later as President of the United States to his year-long African expedition after leaving office in 1909.

Following a humiliating defeat as a third-party candidate in his quest to challenge Democrat Woodrow Wilson and fellow Republican William Howard Taft, Roosevelt needed something to assuage his wounded pride.  After striking a deal with the American Museum of Natural History, plans for an Amazon expedition began to fall into place.  Roosevelt would co-lead the expedition with noted Brazilian explorer Colonel Cándido de Silva Rondon.  In many ways it would fulfill a life-long dream of Roosevelt’s, for he was, above everything else, a naturalist at heart.

This is Millard’s debut work, filled with meticulous details, even descriptions of flora, fauna and wildlife (including unfriendly Indians) Roosevelt would have encountered in the Amazon.  Kermit Roosevelt, his second oldest son, accompanied him on the harrowing journey, ostensibly to keep an eye on his father and his well-being, although he himself suffered with bouts of malaria.  The Rio da Dúvida, translated River of Doubt, lived up to its name.  It would be a journey that Theodore Roosevelt came very close to not surviving.

If you’re a Teddy Roosevelt fan or interested in harrowing tales of adventure and exploration into unknown and uncharted territory, you will find this book a great read.  I highly recommend it.

Rating:  ★★★★★

Have a GREAT day . . . someday it will be HISTORY!

© Sharon Hall (Digging History), 2014.


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