The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey

CANDICE MILLARD; Candice Millard





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In a powerful new narrative history, former National Geographic writer and editor Candice Millard traces the bold 1914 expedition to chart the Amazon’s treacherous River of Doubt, and casts new light on the expedition’s extraordinary leader, Theodore Roosevelt. Drawing on extensive firsthand research and little-known historical resources, Millard uncovers startling facts about the expedition, detailing the dire circumstances that left three men dead and drove Roosevelt to the brink of suicide.

After his humiliating defeat in the 1912 election, Roosevelt threw himself into the most punishing physical challenge he could find: a brutal descent of the unmapped, rapids-filled tributary of the Amazon known as the River of Doubt. As Roosevelt and his small party of explorers (including his son, Kermit) battled the churning river in dugout canoes, they faced starvation, unimaginably harsh jungle conditions, and the constant danger of Indian attack. Roosevelt himself was gravely injured, and his physical condition deteriorated to the point where he contemplated suicide rather than endanger his companions with his weakness. When the group finally emerged from the jungle, the story of their accomplishments was so audacious that many of the world's experts initially refused to believe it.

Millard depicts the Amazon jungle–a place of timeless beauty and lethal competition for survival–in such vivid, realistic detail that it becomes a main character in the book. In writing about Roosevelt, she deftly blends politics, history, and psychological insight, focusing on the complex blend of charisma, pragmatism, and determination that made Roosevelt such an exceptional leader. The result is a stunning portrait of one of the most intriguing and important figures in American history.

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Other editions: 2006, 2005