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The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey | [Candice Millard]

The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey

At once an incredible adventure narrative and a penetrating biographical portrait, The River of Doubt is the true story of Theodore Roosevelt's harrowing exploration of one of the most dangerous rivers on earth.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: It's a rare audiobook of any genre that keeps me on the edge of my seat. But a history book? Yet, as I listened to this impeccably researched biography/adventure, I could feel death around every bend of the Amazon. I really didn't know whether TR's quest for glory would be his last. —Steve Feldberg

Publisher's Summary

At once an incredible adventure narrative and a penetrating biographical portrait, The River of Doubt is the true story of Theodore Roosevelt's harrowing exploration of one of the most dangerous rivers on earth.

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (1915 )
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  •  
    Susan Broomfield, CO, USA 11-15-08
    Susan Broomfield, CO, USA 11-15-08 Member Since 2006
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    "Brilliant recollection!"

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 03-14-13
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 03-14-13 Member Since 2009
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    "teddy roosevelt finally meets his match"

    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











    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Allen Plainwell, MI, United States 02-14-13
    Allen Plainwell, MI, United States 02-14-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Good book overall, but a bit disappointing"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    aaron los angeles, CA, United States 11-06-11
    aaron los angeles, CA, United States 11-06-11 Member Since 2008

    Let's face it, these authors aren't paying me, so there's no need to lie!!

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    "Excellent story, well nararrated"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly 01-30-11
    Kelly 01-30-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wanted and Expected to Love This"

    I'm a big fan of the survival/exploration/overcoming adversity type of non-fiction books and of Mr. Roosevelt, so after reading the glowing reviews here I was very excited to listen to this and learn something new about TR.

    After finishing the story I'd have to say I was disappointed. I found my mind wandering and was disinterested at times when the author goes on long tangents about vegetation, reptiles, natives and insects. I realize that's necessary to establish the environment and the dangers these people were facing, but most of it felt like it was filler because they didn't have enough content to fill the book as it related to TR and the traveling party. Most of what was mentioned was never actually encountered by the traveling party. I never felt any momentum or tension building-up.

    Seeing all these other reviews puzzles me, maybe I expected too much but I never felt I was at the "edge of my seat" or felt I couldn't go to bed until I heard what happened next. I still admire the men for what they accomplished and endured but I'd recommend other books in this genre to friends before this one (Undaunted Courage, Into Africa, Down the Great Unknown etc.). I guess I'll give 3 stars because it clued me into something else in TR's amazing life.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Don Lance Murfreesboro, TN United States 12-17-09
    Don Lance Murfreesboro, TN United States 12-17-09 Member Since 2008
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    "Outstanding narrative, recommended"

    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!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet Lee San Francisco 11-21-09
    Janet Lee San Francisco 11-21-09 Member Since 2007

    GG

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    "Theo...Who knew?"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan new york, NY, USA 09-26-09
    Jonathan new york, NY, USA 09-26-09 Member Since 2009
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    "Very good story - great narrator"

    I really enjoyed this book, the narrator was excellent and the story is clear and concise.

    Certain passages are written beautifully, especially when Millard expounds upon the specific details of Roosevelt's and Rondon's life and the Amazon itself. These characters come to life but it isn't really until the epilogue that you invest in them an emotional attachment that I wish was there all along. In that way, though the story unfolds like an adventure, it doesn't come alive the way a fiction reader might hope it would (like it does, for example, in "Devil and the White City").

    Regardless, it is a quick and fascinating read (listen) and makes me want to learn so much more about Roosevelt, Rondon, The Amazon and the Indians who once lived along the Rio da Duvida.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew Jenusaitis Encinitas, CA, US 09-15-09
    Matthew Jenusaitis Encinitas, CA, US 09-15-09
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    "Great Historical Read"

    This was an outstanding non-fiction account written with the plot and character development of a novel. Truly enjoyable.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    02-02-09
    02-02-09 Member Since 2005
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    "Amazon meets TR. Wow!"

    Marvelous adventure punctuated by terrific background data about the rainforest and its history. Non-fiction at its best. I'm going to use it in a college course on the Amazon.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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