The River of Doubt by Candice Millard

River After Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency ended, he decided to take a river trip in the Amazon River area. Having experienced many adventures, including big-game hunting in Africa and leading the Rough Riders in the Spanish American War, he expected this to be an easy journey. However, he changed his original plans for a relatively safe trip and chose a river that was not on any map, with no idea what would be around the next curve or how far the expedition was from reaching civilization. The expedition included Roosevelt’s son Kermit, a naturalist, a famous Brazilian explorer, and a number of Brazilian paddlers. Roosevelt and his men soon heard the sound of huge rapids, and from then on, they spent much of their time paddling their boats through whitewater or making difficult portages around the rapids. As they continued, some of their boats were destroyed by the raging whitewater. Left without enough boats to carry their supplies, they had to leave behind most of their gear, and they lost some of their food in the river. Failing in most of their efforts to hunt, fish, or forage for food, they were near starvation. They heard the voices of rain forest Indians, saw their tracks, and once endured an Indian attack. Almost all of the men became ill, one was murdered, and one drowned. Roosevelt was close to death during the last part of the journey. The trip was so dreadful that the survivors found it difficult to convince people that they were telling the truth.

If you are interested in biographies of historical characters, in adventure stories, or in a description of the Amazon region during the early 1900s, you’ll want to read this book, published in 2005 and named as the best book of that year by the New York Times Book Review.

(Helen Snow, Information Services)

 

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