I first heard about TR's journey down the River of Doubt in the last volume of Edmund Morris' monumental biography of TR. I had never known about this part of his life. Edmund Morris devoted a few chapters to the journey and I became very interested. I saw a recent interview with the author and I became even more intrigued.
If I say anything about the story I will give away all the action, but I will give you the following tid-bits:
TR was supposed to go to Brazil and Argentina for a speaking/lecture tour at some universities. He did it primarily to make money: he was broke in 1913 and he needed to raise some money so that he could pay the tuition at Harvard for his two youngest sons Archie and Quentin.
After the speaking tour was over, he planned on taking a river cruise down the Amazon to collect nature samples for the Museum of Natural History. The Museum agreed to finance the trip and pay for his supplies, and he negotiated a deal with Scribner's magazine to write articles about his journey. All in all, it was supposed to be a vacation.
In Brazil, TR immediately fell in with a bunch of adrenaline junkies and adventurers, most notably Colonel Rondon, a Brazilian military officer, telegraph engineer, and conservationist who convinced TR that he would gain more glory if he agreed to travel with him to an uncharted tributary of the Amazon called "The River of Doubt".
The things that happen after that are so unbelievable, you have to listen to this book to realize what an accomplishment this was: Drownings, suicide attempts, Piranha attacks, murder, cannibalistic natives, flesh-eating bacteria, disease, and a host of other perils so extreme they are almost indescribable befall the expedition.
Through this, you will learn about TR, about his son Kermit (who is a fascinating person) and especially about Colonel Rondon, who is even today a Brazilian national hero that has a whole province in Brazil (Rondonia) named after him, and was one of the first people to champion the protection of Brazilian native peoples.
The narrator reads with pathos and energy, does the voices for all the characters, and narrates the especially harrowing scenes with such emotion that I cried a few times.
Millard's descriptions of the jungle are both detailed and terrifying.
This book was so good, I would sit in my car after I got home for 20 minutes to continue listening.
Listen to this book!
Non-fiction, fiction--I read widely. Except bodice rippers. I'd rather pull my own eyelashes out than read romance. Avid, happy reader.
Just buy it. If you're even reading reviews, you likely enjoy a good, well-written history, and this fits the bill. I bought this on the strength of loving the author's book, "Destiny of the Republic", and wasn't disappointed. Millard has a knack for injecting historical information that's flat fascinating without it interrupting the pace of the story. Here, the information about the Amazon and the family life of the Roosevelts is amazing, and blends effortlessly with the action of this expedition. Pretty sure this is the first book I've experienced with narration by Michael, and he was very good. No fancy accents and the like--which can be great at times (think Shantaram), but when there isn't much to do, it's nicer when the narrator doesn't get in the way of the story. You aren't thinking about what an amazing actor he is--you're just engrossed in the book, and definitely not thinking that he's annoying you in any way. Really liked it.
I had not read the print version
Theodore as he provides inspiration in the face of adversity
The voice and inflection given to the various characters provided a sense of reality as if I was present during the conversations.
I found several points in the journey note worthy but the decision to lance Theodare's infections in such dismal conditions lend credibility to the hardships they faced
I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys listening and learning about the great explorers of the past
The historical accounts mixed with the science and ecology of the amazon was well intertwined.
Yes, this historical account was told so that it felt like an adventure novel.
I was amazed of the horrific conditions and the amazing wildlife in the amazon.
If one enjoys adventure and wilderness nonfiction as well as historical nonfiction this is a choice book. We get a good taste of the Amazon at the turn of the century, combined with a unique view of the man that was Theodore Roosevelt.
Paul Michael again hits the mark in the performance here.
I have recommended this book to several people in conversation as a little known story of the charismatic President Teddy Roosevelt. This story would make a great movie! The story is fraught with detail about the wilderness of the Brazilian region, wonderful characters, dangers abound and Millard captures both the vulnerable side of TR and that which makes him truly "BULLY" indeed.
The real story of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
SJM - NJ
What a great story about Teddy Roosevelt. The writing was excellent and the narrator did an excellent job. Hard to believe this is a true story - really provides some depth of character around one of our most interesting presidents. This is the second book by Candice Millard that I've listened to and they are both very well done. The book will take you on a wonderful journey.
This is another historical piece that I would recommend to anyone looking at past American leadership. Although TR was not president at the time, Candice Millard shows us why this man was revered and despised. Millard brought me closer to understanding another one of my American heroes. The ease of listening to the narrator was quite soothing. He did an excellent job reading. I am now on my second listening.
The flow of the story cannot be overlooked. I took that journey with TR and Rondon, Kermit and everyone else on the expedition. Candice Millard gives you history as a novel. It is no way boring and no way sensationalized. I never tired of listening. I wanted to know what was around the next bend on the River of Doubt.
My favorite scene was when TR wanted to "take out" the lazy, conniving fellow who killed one of his fellow workers. After Rondon explained to TR, the fellow could not be killed, but must be tried by their law. I felt as TR, yet I knew TR's way was the American mindset. It was not his place. It was Rondon's decision.
I had no problems with the narrator's performance. There were no over the top theatrics, just historical deliverance. Bully for him, as an adjective, not a noun.
By all means, the printed copy will be added to my family library. I am now interested in more about TR and others of his era. I recommend this to any TR enthusiast, audible or printed.
I loved the adventure of this book and that a former US President would take such a journey...and survive.
My favorite seen is when Roosevelt had given himself up for dead and chose not to go on so he would not harm the group from their chances of getting out alive.
Courage beyond measure
I love to learn and share whatever excellence I discover in the process
If you have any interest whatsoever in Theodore Roosevelt and the Amazon region, this book will inform and amaze you.