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Book Review: The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Candice Millard

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The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Candice Millard is a non-fiction book detailing the 26th President’s travels in Brazil. This fascinating account is a must read for fans of the President or adventurers who travel the region.

The River of Doubt is an uncharted tributary of the Amazon River which goes through a treacherous environment. Indians with poison-tipped arrows, piranhas, and fast waters are only a few of its dangers.

Losing the 1912 elections, the humiliated Theodore Roosevelt sets his sights on a punishing physical excursion. Together with his son and a famous Brazilian explorer, Roosevelt sets to accomplish a feat many said cannot be done.

Millard tells of the extraordinary expedition led by Cândido Mariano da Silva Rondon and his co-commander, ex-President Theodore Roosevelt, down the unexplored tributaries of the Amazon in 1914. The rigorous 400 mile trip down Rio da Duvida (River of Doubt) tested the stamina, intellect, courage and sense of adventure of all of those in the party.

Even though Roosevelt and most everyone in the party were experienced in the tribulations of exploring parts of the unknown world, they were unprepared for this trip. From the beginning they had problems — the boats were too big, the river too shallow, the food, when they had it, was little and more.

Many on the expedition got sick, the President’s son, Kermit, suffered from malaria and T.R. himself almost died from bacterial infection.

Ms. Millard describes the many hazards as well as the dangerous and fascinating ecology of the rain fores. This fantastic book is not a biography of Roosevelt, but simply a heart-pounding account of the trip, the ramifications and a different side of the President we have rarely seen before.

Buy this book in paper or electronic (Kindle) format.

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