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

Title: The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey

Author: Candice Millard

First published October 18, 2005

416 pages, Paperback

ISBN: 9780767913737 (ISBN10: 0767913736)

Rating: 4.17


A captivating blend of adventure and biography, The River of Doubt recounts the incredible true story of Theodore Roosevelt’s perilous expedition through one of the most dangerous rivers in the world. The black, unexplored tributary of the Amazon known as the River of Doubt was infested with piranhas, treacherous rapids, and indigenous tribes wielding poison-tipped arrows.

Following a devastating election defeat in 1912, Roosevelt sought to conquer the ultimate physical challenge by becoming the first to chart this unmapped river. Accompanied by his son Kermit and Brazil’s most celebrated explorer, Cândido Mariano da Silva Rondon, Roosevelt endured unimaginable hardships, including starvation, disease, Indian attacks, and a murder within their own ranks.

Three men lost their lives, and Roosevelt was pushed to the brink of despair. Candice Millard masterfully narrates this gripping tale, transporting the reader from the awe-inspiring beauty of the Amazon rainforest to the darkest moments of Roosevelt’s life.

About the Author

Candice Millard is an accomplished writer and editor who previously worked for National Geographic magazine. She made her debut as a published author with The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey, which became a New York Times bestseller and was highly acclaimed by several publications including the Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle.

The book was a finalist for the Quill Awards and won the William Rockhill Nelson Award, and has been translated into Portuguese, Mandarin, and Korean, as well as a British edition.

Her second book, Destiny of the Republic, also found great success, rising to number five on The New York Times bestseller list and being named a best book of the year by several publications, including The New York Times and Amazon. It won multiple awards, including the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime, the PEN Center USA award for Research Nonfiction, and the One Book—One Lincoln Award.

Millard’s writing has been featured in notable publications such as Time Magazine, Washington Post Book World, and the New York Times Book Review. She currently resides in Kansas City with her husband and three children.

Editoral Review

“The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey” by Candice Millard is a gripping work of narrative nonfiction that chronicles the former president’s harrowing expedition into the heart of the Amazon rainforest. Millard is a gifted storyteller, and her writing style is both vivid and engaging, making it easy for readers to get lost in the story.

The book recounts Roosevelt’s ill-fated journey to explore an uncharted river in the Brazilian rainforest in 1913, which turned out to be one of the most treacherous and dangerous expeditions in history. The story is filled with unexpected twists and turns, as the group of explorers faces numerous challenges, including disease, starvation, and attacks from hostile tribes.

Millard does an excellent job of bringing the characters to life, particularly Roosevelt himself, who emerges as a complex and fascinating figure. She also vividly portrays the lush and dangerous landscape of the Amazon, which serves as both a stunning backdrop and an ominous presence throughout the story.

The book is not only a thrilling adventure tale but also a fascinating glimpse into the mindset and motivations of one of America’s most iconic figures. It sheds light on Roosevelt’s restless spirit and his deep desire to explore and conquer new frontiers, as well as his struggles with depression and self-doubt.

One of the strengths of the book is its meticulous attention to historical detail, which is evident in the extensive research that Millard conducted. She draws on a wide range of primary sources, including Roosevelt’s own journals and letters, to create a rich and nuanced portrait of the expedition.

At times, the book can be a bit slow-moving, particularly during the more technical sections that deal with the logistics of the expedition. However, these moments are few and far between, and overall the pacing is well-balanced.

Ultimately, “The River of Doubt” is a masterful work of historical narrative that will appeal to anyone who enjoys a good adventure story. It also has significant cultural and historical significance, providing insight into the mindset of early 20th-century America and shedding light on the environmental and social issues that continue to plague the Amazon region today.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend “The River of Doubt” to anyone who enjoys narrative nonfiction or is interested in the life and legacy of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a compelling and thought-provoking read that is sure to leave a lasting impression.

I would give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars, based on its engaging writing style, rich character development, and historical significance.”