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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

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  •  
    Boulderite 02-12-08
    Boulderite 02-12-08 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "What history should be"

    This is a great story, for its own sake, and for what it teaches us about struggles with nature, with others, and with ourselves. It is not heavy in tone -- just a story -- but it is deep with insight and adventure. This is my best read of the year.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marc Port Ewen, NY, USA 05-10-07
    Marc Port Ewen, NY, USA 05-10-07
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    "A great read!"

    This book has everything: history of an relatively unknown adventure by a former US president, a naturalist's adventure in the strange, fascinating and beautiful world of the deepest parts of the Amazon rain forest, a psychological study of a father/son relationship during the most harrowing of times, an eye opening account of Brazil in the early 20th century, a thriller few novelists could match, and much more. I don't doubt it will be made into a movie. Well read and superbly written. Incredible.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carrie O'Donnell Stamford, CT 03-16-06
    Carrie O'Donnell Stamford, CT 03-16-06 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Don't miss this one"

    Excellent...so interesting. He's such an indomitable character and it shows in this book, but its about more than just Theodore Roosevelt, its about exploration, courage, teamwork, and courage.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Grapevine, TX, United States 12-24-05
    James Grapevine, TX, United States 12-24-05
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    "A Glorious Listen"

    This is the story of Teddy Roosevelt's trip through the Amazon rain forest to explore the newly discovered River of Doubt in 1913. If I were teaching school I would use this book for almost any subject: science, geography, political science, history, etc. Lots more fun than textbooks.

    The narrator is Paul Michael, who is as good as Scott Brick or George Guidall. Audible indicates it is read by Richard Ferrone, but that applies to the abridged version. This is one of those rare non-fiction books that reads like the best novel. I find it very hard to believe that this is by a first time author.

    One nit I have to pick is that there is no mention of Tweed Roosevelt, Teddy's great grandson, who repeated the trip in 1992 (finding that the cannibals by then were watching satellite TV!).

    This is a book I would never have opened in paper, and I would have been much the poorer for it.

    This is not a biography, but an exploration of a region that even today we don't know much about, incidentally undertaken by a former US president.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Bald Maine, United States 04-21-08
    John Bald Maine, United States 04-21-08 Member Since 2006
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    "Interesting and Bizarre Adventure"

    Interesting little piece of history brought to life. The reader does a great job. I liked learning a lot about the men on the journey and about the Amazon jungle.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Silver Spring, MD, USA 01-20-08
    William Silver Spring, MD, USA 01-20-08
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    "Fantastic voyage"

    Excellent narration and compelling writing. Millard mixes an epic adventure narrative with corrective insights on biodiversity and the sad, inevitable encounter of indigenous peoples with technologically advanced, resource exploitive civilizations. Even so, it never goes overboard, and the detail serves to build suspense for the main story - the dangerous adventure of the Roosevelt-Rondon expedition on the River of Doubt.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike Silver Spring, MD, United States 04-12-14
    Mike Silver Spring, MD, United States 04-12-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Great histoy, as much about the Amazon as TR"
    Would you listen to The River of Doubt again? Why?

    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.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The River of Doubt?

    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.


    1 of 1 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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    Story
    "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











    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Evan Honolulu, HI, United States 02-12-13
    Evan Honolulu, HI, United States 02-12-13 Member Since 2010

    Business owner , philanthropist.

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    "Great Story"

    This is one of those books I buy and give to my friends. I like all the planning that went into the journey. I love all the crazy people that went along. Can you imagine a modern president doing this?

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shane Smiths Falls, ON, Canada 10-05-12
    Shane Smiths Falls, ON, Canada 10-05-12
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    "Historical Non-Fiction at its best"

    If history were taught via stories like this...it would be every student's favourite subject. I flew through this book. What an epic adventure story, and a fascinating snapshot of a period of history that I was not all that familiar with. The insight into Teddy Roosevelt's character was enlightening - his honour, thirst for adventure, stubbornness and genuine interest in the natural world--all rolled into one dynamic package. Also, the description of his travel companions and the way men of various characters responded when placed in mortal danger was gripping. One of my favourite Audible books so far.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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