This is a spectacular book. The author did a fantastic job in bringing together adventure, history and a little bit of science, with a very good narrative and great character development. In fact, it would make a terrific "Indiana Jones-style" movie.
As a Brazilian, I have always admired Candido Rondon as a true hero, and this book only confirmed my admiration. Even in Brazil very few people know much about the Rondon-Roosevelt expedition. Contrary to my initial assumptions, I learned that Roosevelt's trip to Brazil was not a mere "celebrity safari", but a real scientific expedition with scientific added value. The "River of Doubt" (now called River Roosevelt) in the Amazon basin was uncharted until 1914 and it is as big as the Rhine.
The narrator also did a great job - he clearly made the effort of researching the correct prounciation of the names in Portuguese.
Overall, I think this book tells more about the history of Napoleon's invasion of Russia than about the science of typhus itself, but it's a very interesting book. I can't help comparing it to "The Great Influenza" by John Barry, which masterly describes the historical context and the science of the 1918 flu pandemic. "The Illustrious Dead" is more a book about History than about science (or the history of medicine and the treatment of typhus), but I enjoyed the book and its narrator.
This is an excellent book. I woud compare it to "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson, in the sense that it has a very widespread subject (international trade), but manages to keep it intetesting and on topic.
Unfortunately the narrator is totally detached from the story. He reads the book like a memo. I managed to ignore that and still enjoy the book, but others may prefer the printed version.
Very good story. The author made a good research on the topic and kept the story very fluid.
The narrator is excellent - he has a good voice and is very engaged.
The author definitely did a remarkable research on this biography, but the result is too heavy to digest. Except for a few parts of the book (mostly after the start of WWII), I did not feel engaged with FDR. I felt like I was reading a boring bureaucratic memo.
I can't help constrasting this biography with "Truman", by David Macullough, whose historical research is just as good as Jean Edward Smith's - and it's far better to listen/read.
The narrator did a good job, though.
If you're looking for another adventure with the "Shadow Divers", be warned that a good chunk of this book is actually an account of the facts surrounding the Titanic.
This having been said, the whole account about the tragedy is also very interesting and deserves five stars.
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