09 October 2008

The River of Doubt review by Denis Minev

The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey
by Candice Millard
Edition: Hardcover
Availability: In Stock

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Millard does a masterful job of bringing to life not only an expedition in the Amazon jungle, but also the very interesting characters that composed it, from the very famous (US President Teddy Roosevelt, his son) to regionally famous characters (Rondon in Brazil) to unknowns (naturalists, priests, etc.). 

The book opens with a description of the times in US and Latin American politics. It was a time of the Panama canal, Latin American instability and the establishment of US leadership in the region. Against that backdrop, a formerly powerful man, Roosevelt, seeks his last swan song as an explorer in the Amazon, seeking to do somehting truly significant in a time of explorers (Amudsen, Mallory, etc.). 

The expedition is quite clearly poorly planned and the different philosophies of its joint leaders (Roosevelt and Rondon) burst out amid the difficulties they face in the jungle and in enormous repeated rapids. The true story includes murder, drowning, abandonment, indian attacks, starvation, not to mention the more vain human constants of pettiness, ambition, deceit, and pride. 

Ultimately, Roosevelt and Rondon put on the map a 1 thousand mile long river, which was to be renamed from "River of Doubt" (hence the title) to "River Roosevelt", as it stands today. This is the kind of book one will read in only a few short days, unable to put down the exciting story. The pictures included also contribute to clarify the true nature of the adventure. I highly recommend this book, as I believe it will fast become the authoritative account of Roosevelt?s expedition and a classic of Amazonian exploration.

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