Intriguing look into a terribly planned, ill-executed exploration of an uncharted river in South America. Teddy Roosevelt lives up to his larger than life reputation when he takes on the wilds of the Amazonian rain forest. Great writing, well-researched and yet engaging.
Lauren L. reviewed The River of Doubt : Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey on
Helpful Score: 3
This book chronicles Teddy Roosevelt's journey down an uncharted tributary to the amazon river. It is an amazing account of one of Roosevelt's many adventures. You get an close look at what the interior of the amazon rain forest looks like with an intriguing story of survival.
I've been reading a lot of historical narrative over the last few years (Skeletons on the Zahara, In the Heart of the Sea, Over the Edge of the World, Unbroken, We Die Alone, The Devil in the White City) and The River of Doubt compares quite favorably with all of those. Candice Millard's parsing of Teddy Roosevelt's last great adventure in 1913 yields many captivating insights: biographical probing of Roosevelt's family and political life, the natural history of the Amazon River Basin and its indigenous tribes, South American politics, and of course a study of how human beings stand up under intense mental and physical duress. Millard has the unique ability to dredge up historical minutia while never letting the narrative bog down and her re-creation of the time, place and people is thoroughly engaging.
An amazingly powerful book that I found riveting. That is a lot to say in eight words, but it was true for me.
I have read a number of books on Theodore Roosevelt and am very impressed with the man, although I do not always agree that what he did was right or the best for our country. While I knew that he took a long trip to South America after he lost the 1912 election, I had supposed that it was a type of gentleman's safari with plenty of creature comforts. Boy, was I wrong.
As a former Marine and someone who also had his share of tough treks backpacking for a week or more in the Rockies at high elevations in all kinds of weather, I am not sure I could have done what Teddy did on his trip down the River of Doubt.
This is a quite good narrative of TR's harrowing South American expedition, a trip plagued with poor planning and questionable decisions, and with disasters at almost every turn. It is a testament to the courage and determination of the travelers that the River of Doubt, or Rio Roosevelt, was ultimately placed on the map. Millard has apparently done her research, and although she tends to digress more than I'd wish, she tells the story clearly and without obvious bias, giving even-handed descriptions of the major characters and events.
Really well-written account of Roosevelt's Amazonian adventure (navigating a previously unexplored tributary). Millard does a fantastic job of melding all the relevant historical and scientific information together in a smooth narrative. My fascination with the Amazon and all its lethal inhabitants continues.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It is an account, richly documented, outlining Theodore Roosevelt's expedition into the then-unexplored Amazon basin. It is an incredible story of survival. The book is written in a very readable, engaging style, with dialogue and graphic description. I highly recommend!
This story is so compelling! The only part I got pretty tired of was all the talk about evolution. That is just the author's opinion, but she writes it as though her theory is fact.
If you can read around all of that, and just enjoy the story of Teddy's adventure, this book is great!
If your looking for a fast read this isn't the book.This book is very detailed and scientific.I don't think I would have read this book on my own I read it because my book club was reading it.I didn't hate this book but I didn't love it either I thought it was okay.You do learn a lot about the amazon.Especially the forest and the animals and fish I also learned a lot about Theodore Roosevelt and his son Kermit.You did feel like you were right there with them.After reading this book I don't think I would want to go to the amazon.The first 100 pages is slow and boring but once you pass that it gets really exciting so don't give up.What these men went through on this expedition was hard and life threating.I give them a lot of credit.This book is based on a true story.I cant imagine what these men endured especially when they were sick and had barely any food left, and facing the Indians and the rapids.After this expedition Roosevelt was never the same again it actually took his life.
Excellent read. Well-researched, well-written, fast-paced. A great look at a later adventure of Teddy Roosevelt that succeeded in spite of bad planning and inadequate information. Really gives insight into TR's personality and the force of his will that carried him and those around him along.
Friend: you have to read this book about Teddy Roosevelt (TR)!.
Me: Its a biography; I really hate that type of book.
Friend: Read it, its like a fiction book, except its true.
Friend: read it or Ill make you eat it (this is a real and credible threat).
So I read it
Me: Great book, I loved it, well worth it.
Friend: Told you so.
Here is the deal. My experience with biographies is that they are written by academics who dont know how to tell stories. Heck, most non-fiction is written that way (in my experience) so I avoid it. If all biographies or non-fiction books were like this one, Id be reading them all the time.
I was so wrong on this book! Drama, and suspense and TR getting clobbered by mother nature.
Trigger warnings and tags
Age groups I dont know on this one, Im going to say 12 and up. The book contains nuanced situations and political correctness, where the writer was being nice to people, rather than being fully honest. If you have a good imagination or life experience so you can see though some of the PC talk the book is richer. Im sure it would be a good read for most ages. In particular it would appeal to budding naturalists as the author spends a lot of time describing the flora and fauna and their ecosystems.
Violence: Some. Wild natives, penis attacking fish, mutiny and mother nature being wicked.
Adult Situations: There is some talk of suicide at the darkest hour, when they thought all was lost.