River of Doubt, a review of Roosevelts dark journey

Candice Millard will take you on a journey through the Amazon in the last days when there were still places on the earth that were unmapped and waiting to be mapped and explored.  Expertly researched, this book delves into the politics of South America at the turn of the last century, the geological and evolutionary uniqueness of the Amazon, the history of the progressive party, and even the revolutionary technology of telegraph lines.  Yet for all the annotated information that this wonderful book has for the reader it continues to tear along at furious pace that very nearly tricks the reader into thinking that they're holding a work of fiction in their hands.

Millard is never afraid to pause her narrative to illuminate her cast of characters, from the intriguing contradictions and drive of Theodore Roosevelt to the steadfast romanticism of Roosevelt's son Kermit.  The stoic mask of Rondon, one of the most famous Brazilian explorers of all time, who is driven by a passion to illuminate the interior of his country and bring the native Indian tribes into the Brazilian world.  A murderer is in their midst, hard working camaradas, an affluent priest, a failed explorer of the South Pole, American naturalists, Brazilian military officers, rugged semi-civilized rubber tappers, and shadowing them every step of the way a hostile Indian tribe that no one from the outside world had ever made contact with.

One comes away with the sensation that this is nearly unimaginable.  The suffering and adventure move as quick as an Indian Jones novel, but you have to stop yourself in the end and remember that the difference is that this adventure actually happened.  This landscape is all the more awe-inspiring for the realism and I wish that more history was written as riveting as this.

Roosevelt with the great Brazilian explorer Rondon
Roosevelt with the great Brazilian explorer Rondon

The photos from the book are a large part of the fun, to see these extraordinary people as they looked.  After reading of the larger than life exploits of each it is remarkable to see them as only human.

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Comments 2 comments

Christopher Floyd profile image

Christopher Floyd 6 years ago from Kansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.

I'm going to have to find this book. Thanks for sharing.

sfrentz06 profile image

sfrentz06 5 years ago from Sterling Heights, MI, USA

Great review, I'll definitely have to remember to read this.

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