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, Candido 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.
©2005 Candice Miller; (P)2005 Books on Tape
"Millard...nails the suspense element of this story perfectly, but equally important to her success is the marvelous amount of detail she provides on the wildlife that Roosevelt and his fellow explorers encountered on their journey, as well as the cannibalistic indigenous tribe that stalked them much of the way." (Publishers Weekly)
I read science, biographies, histories, mysteries, adventures, thrillers, educationals, linguistics but not no way, not no how, romances.
Let's start with the end, Candice Millard is a spectacular writer, her books are seemingly effortless and not only should you buy everything she's written, but put her on your list of authors to watch. This book, her first, sets the pace for a short but spectacular career.
Okay, now let's work backwards, to the River of Doubt. This is at once an adventure story as 22 men, with little experience and less food, float down an completely unknown and isolated river, surrounded by a jungle, animals and tribes that are actively trying to kill them. Teddy Roosevelt, having finished 7 years as president and looking for his next adventure, sets out on the biggest, most dangerous and last one of his amazing life. He wants to map a new river in the amazon, one that has never been charted. At all.
You learn so much about the Amazon rainforest here. But beyond the adventure and the danger, this is a character portrait of a man who was a naturalist and explorer at heart. While his health plunges downhill and men around him die, turn against each other and run away, his attitude never wavers. His son and the expedition's guide also show their true brave selves as they resolve to finish the voyage through strength of will alone.
It's shocking, what they go through, what they have to survive, and the sheer mountain of obsticles lined up against them. You'll have a new respect for Roosevelt and for exploraton after reading this - you'll also be breathless from the non-stop adventure of the story.
I bought this book for an extra credit report for my son and ended up listening to it myself. I was thoroughly engrossed as I knew nothing of Roosevelt's interest in exploration. The author did a great job of informing the reader/listener of the lives and backgrounds of all the members of the expedition and the coarse of their lives after their return. The author was also very informative of the different cultures of Amazonian Indians and even of the evolution of plants and animals in the forest. I found this book very intriguing and would recommend it to anyone interested in History.
The Good – I would have loved meeting TR! What a character! This book was very good. I am simply amazed at why anyone would take on such a journey even now when satellite phones can call for a helicopter rescue, but back then; get outta here!
I don’t want to give anything away so I won’t elaborate on details. I’ll just say that if you like historical adventures you will drink this book up like it was a bottle of cool water in the middle of the Sahara. I’m pretty picky about my non-fiction books and I’m on a historical adventure kick right now. This book followed Sea of Glory, which left me with a bit of any empty feeling. River of Doubt satiated that feeling! Now I just need to find something to follow this?
The Not So Good – I got nothin. It’s that simple. This book is a Goldilocks book; it’s just right.
The Narration – Paul Michael, yeah, he’s on my favorites’ list now! What a fantastic job! Michael’s pronunciations, his imitations, his tone, and his cadence all worked in perfect unison to make the listening to this great story even better.
Note: don’t be put off by the audio sample on the website! When I listened it had this odd echo and I hesitated to get the book, but I wanted to hear this story and once I downloaded it there was no echo on my iPod.
The Overall – River of Doubt is a solid well-told and well-read book! For all those well worded five star reviews I read; Thank you!
Absolutely. In some sense, I wish I had not listened to it yet so that I could stumble on again. Seldom does one come across something new in the reading history of a man like TR. And yet Millard has meticulously captured this obscure chapter of TR's post presidential live, and reveled it be absolutely riveting again.
The chapter in which Millard introduces the reader to the ecology of the rain forest. The way she contrasts the sinister magic underneath its canopy; it's hyper-evolved species and predators - bugs, plants, germs, etc - to the relatively benign "wilderness" of TR's childhood, Oyster Bay, and even Africa, was unforgettable. The reader cannot help but squirm at it becomes clear our protagonist - the embodiment of the "strenuous life," hero of San Juan, and colossus of his era - has unwittingly gotten in far over his head.
is life defined solely by our achievements and victories ?
can depression and our darkest sorrows and griefs simply be "outrun" ?
where do you go after enduring a grand public humiliation ?
teddy roosevelt had to answer all these hard questions in 1912
his 3rd party "bull moose" attempt to regain the presidency had failed
the intense scorn of his former republican colleagues fell heavily on him
t. roosevelt had made trophies of previous expeditions and campaigns
1) the spanish american war 2) the american west 3) an african safari
when a 1913 - 1914 amazon opportunity presented itself he grabbed for it
roosevelt's reputation insured him support and a warm welcome in brasil
but his trip showed remarkably poor timing, equipment, provision and planning
the dense tropical jungle proved to be a challenge almost beyond his ability
the deep reaches of the amazon rainforest were unexpectedly a pathetic lie
their lush and dense appearance belied a empty and violent nature
the lethal local "cinta larga" indians silently watched every step of his journey
as expected, t. roosevelt was not the most interesting man in this story
his son kermit showed a resolve and physical courage far beyond his father
and the brave brasilian colonel candido rondon outperformed even kermit
the health and 55 pounds roosevelt lost during the trip were never fully regained
by 1917 he was re-hospitalized with fever and abscess from the trip
he then died in 1919 of heart disease at his home on oyster bay, new york
c. millard took a well deserved break from NAT GEO to write this book
i learned more about t. roosevelt in her great book than any other i've read
he was at his physical and moral limit and thus seemed more real and human
The story sounded promising, but like another reviewer, I was hoping for more narrative and story, and a little less science. This felt less like a story or documentary, and more like a scientific paper. Still a good read, but goes into overly detailed analysis of flora and fauna - some of which is obviously not specifically from the Roosevelt expedition and from our more modern general knowledge of the rain forest. It felt like: journal entry - textbook excerpt - journal entry - textbook excerpt - stop - start - etc. I would have to say the story telling felt choppy and could have woven into the rainforest background better. More detail about the actual expedition and the struggles they faced would have been nice. To the author's credit, in a day without cell phones, telephones, aircraft, vehicles of any kind, or cameras, I'm sure the material to draw on was extremely limited, having to rely solely on written accounts in a place and time where illiteracy must have been rampant. Get the book - just don't have the expectation you will be spellbound by Roosevelt's adventure.
Let's face it, these authors aren't paying me, so there's no need to lie!!
This was fascinating. I had no idea that Roosevelt was such an adventurous, brave soul. This book is VERY well researched, and the reader is excellent.
I was not aware of this South American exploration by former President Roosevelt, and I thoroughly enjoyed the narrative. The author provided very good background information on the historical backdrop of Roosevelt prior to the expedition, on the people, and on the Amazon itself. The narrator also presented the story in a way that kept you listening. Once I started this book, I found it difficult to stop.
The tale will make you think twice if you have ever considered taking part in an Amazon expedition. Let's just say that I will never "relieve myself" in a river again. The unique challenges of an Amazon expedition are described in detail, and these help you understand what a monumental achievement the men accomplished. Roosevelt may not have died in the Amazon, but it's clear he carried the effects with him for his short years afterwards. I also very much liked the addition of an epilogue, which tells what followed in the years after the expedition.
Recommended for anyone who loves a true tale of exploration!
Before listening to this book, all I knew about Teddy Roosevelt was that he was a President, had a big mustache and/or stick & was always yelling "Bully". This starts a bit slow but in the end, I was really touched. Theo seemed a great man, everyone who knew him intimately, seemed to truly love & admire him ...& now, I kind of do too (although I didn't really know him intimately). This book/adventure makes you cringe with fear for Theo & his entourage, ache for their safety & wonder why the heck are they there? But I thought it was really good & I liked it alot. And though I spaced out occasionally while listening because I guess I also had to pay attention to my driving once in awhile, & therefore had to re-listen to some parts, it always kept my interest. I Like Teddy! This book was an education...and to ME, an interesting & informative one.
The author made this account of traveling through the Amazon exciting and informative at the same time. Great narration, fast paced, overall worth a listen.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.