doubtI just finished the wonderful book The River of Doubt by Candice Millard, a compelling real life adventure of Teddy Roosevelt’s treacherous journey down an unexplored (by nonindigenous people) river in the vast interior rainforest of Brazil. The life of Teddy Roosevelt is full of great tales and I have read many books about the great man. However, by concentrating on this one adventure, Ms. Millard has provided us with great details of a particularly harrowing journey which otherwise would be a chapter in a larger biography, and it is fantastic.

About The River of Doubt by Candice Millard: “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, Cândido 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.”

While reading this book I kept thinking about how amazing Roosevelt was. Seriously, a real adventurer who put his life at risk when he could have been living a nice life back in civilization. And then I think about how history would have recorded the death of a president in the middle of a Brazilian rainforest – would it have added to his legend? In addition to detailing the Roosevelt expedition, the book provides some fine details about the ecosystem of the rainforest and the scary wildlife that lives within – in great creepy detail.

The River of Doubt by Candice Millard is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.