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The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  21,978 ratings  ·  2,569 reviews
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-
Paperback, 416 pages
Published October 10th 2006 by Broadway Books (first published 2005)
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Hugh Heinsohn If it were fiction, everyone would say it was completely unbelievable. The rest of Roosevelt's achievements make this expedition a footnote in…moreIf it were fiction, everyone would say it was completely unbelievable. The rest of Roosevelt's achievements make this expedition a footnote in history. But wow - what a story - of one of the most poorly conceived and dangerous journeys in history. The author does a fantastic job of explaining what happened and also setting the scene, including the natural world passing by the expedition members, as the stumble their way along an incredibly treacherous river. (less)
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Jeffrey Keeten
”In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea."
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

 photo RooseveltWriting_zps5b21b493.jpg
Roosevelt wrote articles for Scribners while he was on this trip. Notice that he had to cover up his hands and face to keep the constant barrage of biting insects at bay.

As Theodore Roosevelt lay on his cot in the Amazonian jungle burning up with fever, yellow pus leaking from his leg, and his mind wandering aimlessly through
In the last few years, I have been making my way through two epic biographies written by all-time great authors. I am three books through Robert Caro’s as-yet-unfinished quadrilogy on Lyndon Johnson, and just finished the second book of Edmund Morris’s trilogy on Theodore Roosevelt. Because Morris and Caro are both giants in their field, I have found myself comparing the two sets of books. Every time I do, it seems, I have placed Caro’s The Years of Lyndon Johnson above Morris’s life of Theodore ...more
This is one of those books that I both loved and hated. I loved it because it's an exciting outdoor adventure, it's interesting history, and it's an impressive survival tale.

But at times I also hated it because the disaster story is so frustrating. I got really irritated with Teddy Roosevelt — I mean, the guy was a stubborn, egotistical ass — and I repeatedly wished I could travel back in time just to yell at him to GIVE IT UP AND GO HOME. Not that he would have listened.

A quick summary: After T
Oct 22, 2007 Kevin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who likes TR and exploration
Shelves: history
Teddy Roosevelt is a MAN. I was a big TR fan before and an even bigger one now which is a nice surprise considering that I wasn't expecting much from this book.

There is one scene that I think sums up how impressive TR was. It comes when they are slightly more than half way through their journey, although the exploration party has no way of knowing that. TR has an infected leg, a fever, and has already stated that he should be left behind for certain death because he is a burden on the others. He
I thought Candice Millard's other book Destiny of the Republic was one of the most fascinating books I've ever read, so I thought I should go back and read this, her first book. I must say River of Doubt may be even better, if not for her writing but for the absolutely amazing story she tells. Teddy Rosevelt's exepedition in the heart of the Amazon jungle may be a footnote in history, but Millard brings it to life as one of the most compelling adventure tales I've ever read. Millard does take he ...more
GASP - Non-fiction!!! And I didn't hate it!

A notorious loather of non-fiction, I might just have found the one to break the cycle. River of Doubt was a brilliant, well-crafted narrative of Theodore Roosevelt's arduous journey down a previously unmapped tributary of the Amazon River. Barely surviving, Roosevelt makes it to the end in weary triumph.

One of my big problems with non-fiction is that there is no suspense. (Ok, one might argue that about romance novels, too, but go with me on this one

Theodore Roosevelt's leadership and charisma is a well documented part of American history. Although I'm sure I learned about him in my required history classes, and I've been to Mount Rushmore, I can't say that I knew much about him beyond the fact that he was a Rough Rider, a president, a large man, that he created the idea of a protected national park, and that he supposedly said, "Speak softly and carry a big stick." I also suspected that he was related, somehow, to FDR, but never bothered t
Theodore Roosevelt needed to lift his spirits after his defeat in the 1912 presidential election in a third-party run. He had been invited for a lecture tour in South America, and added the challenge of a trip to the Amazon region. When he reached Brazil, he changed his plans from exploring a known river to embarking on a journey along the uncharted River of Doubt. Theodore Roosevelt was accompanied by his son Kermit Roosevelt, the Brazilian explorer Colonel Candido Rondon, a naturalist, a docto ...more
This is an account of Theodore Roosevelt's descent down a previously unchartered tributary to the Amazon. What is amazing is that anyone, much less a former president, would make such a journey as poorly prepared as Roosevelt's expedition. For instance, to lighten the load on the overland journey to reach the headwater, they left behind a number of light weight canoes and arrived at the river with no boats whatsoever. Poorly crafted dugouts purchased from natives were unable to carry all of the ...more
Theodore Roosevelt, adrenaline/adventure junkie extraordinary, upon losing the 1912 presidential election, "resorted to the only therapy he knew: physical hardship and danger." Enter the Amazon and the heretofore uncharted "River of Doubt." As someone who has spent a good chunk of time journeying outside of civilization (e.g. backpacking along the Appalachian Trail, sailing from Mexico to Tahiti, out of site of land for a solid month), this story had me cringing from start to finish. In addition ...more

My adult children tell me I am opinionated. Well, first of all, at my age I feel entitled to a few opinions. Here are a couple definitions: "unduly adhering to one's own opinion or to preconceived notion" (Merriam Webster); "someone who isn't afraid to give their personal opinion" (Urban Dictionary).

I think it boils down to two things. In this age of post-political-correctness, saying what one thinks is fraught, unless you are a political talk radio person or blogger. Opinions become opinionate
Teddy Roosevelt was fifty-five years old when he journeyed through Brazil to explore the River of Doubt, a heretofore unchartered thousand mile body of water. The journey changed the map of South America, but it also proved to be the greatest test of Roosevelt's adventurous life, and would eventually shorten the span of his years. In clear, unsentimental prose, Candice Millard uses the story of the expedition to paint the portrait of an extraordinary man. Roosevelt was a force of nature, as form ...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Mar 13, 2013 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: History and Nature Buffs
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Ultimate Reading List - History
This book is a blend of subjects: a portrait of one of the most colorful of American presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, and the expedition he led into the Brazilian rain forest that literally put a major tributary of the Amazon on the map. And it succeeds very well at both. It reminded me quite a bit of Stephen Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage, the story of the Lewis and Clark expedition that opened up the American West. That book also gave us a portrait of one of the four presidents on Mount Rushmore, ...more
A remarkable story about a remarkable journey and the remarkable group of men who made it. Candice Millard's retelling of Theodore Roosevelt's journey down "The River of Doubt" is skillfully composed and a pleasure to read. While the story needs no embellishment, she manages to highlight key events while providing enough collateral/historical information to not only educate but entertain without overwhelming or losing forward momentum. She brings the characters to life (or rather back to life) i ...more
So now I know why Teddy Roosevelt's face is etched on the side of Mt. Rushmore, along with our other great Presidents: Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson. What an incredible giant of a man he was. This story tells of Roosevelt's explorations of an uncharted river in the middle of the Amazon rain forest, initially called "River of Doubt". The author delved into the mindset of Roosevelt and why he would engage in such a dangerous journey. Coming off his loss in the Presidential elections, Roosevel ...more
Deborah Edwards
American History was not my favorite subject in school, I admit it. Through a little trickery, I managed to take World History twice just to avoid it. I really know embarrassingly little about Teddy Roosevelt – at least I did before reading Candice Millard’s engaging book “The River of Doubt”- but nevertheless, I always thought he was someone I would have loved to have met. Fearless, charismatic, outdoorsy, eccentric, and adventurous, it seemed there was nothing Teddy couldn’t do or didn’t at le ...more
Abigail Hartman
Two stars seems like a very low rating, but since the technical definition of it is "the book was ok," I think it sums up my feelings pretty accurately. In this book's favor, it is an unexplored portion of Theodore Roosevelt's life and it brings the Amazon Rainforest to light in vast and unsavory detail. On the other hand, the authoress, an editor for the National Geographic, works her Evolutionist beliefs into a large portion of the book until it seems that that is the main focus of the narrati ...more

Candice Millard’s “The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey” is one of the most popular and well-loved books on any president currently in print. Published in 2005, this was Millard’s inaugural work and quickly became a New York Times bestseller. Millard is a former editor and writer for National Geographic.

Self-evident from the book’s title, this is not a comprehensive biography of Teddy Roosevelt. Instead, it is a dramatic and brilliantly
I have very mixed feelings about this book. The author, Candice Millard, is an excellent writer in my opinion (loved her other book I read, Destiny of the Republic). In this book, she has taken a topic that many other authors would have made very boring -- a trip down a previously unexplored and dangerous tributary of the Amazon River by Teddy Roosevelt and a group of men, some of whom were highly qualified to take this on and some who weren't -- and made it interesting and informative. The deta ...more
May 27, 2013 Laura rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Laura by: Book club
Some years ago, it was the fashion among some of the public intellectuals I followed to bemoan that psychotropic drugs had taken a toll on genius. That men and women who might, in past times, have dared mighty things would instead live lives of quiet contentment because paxil or ritalin or lithium or whatever took the edge off. And I rolled my eyes. "Know thyself," I believe, but I see nothing wrong with getting a little help to get through that dark night.

This is a book about a man who kept hi
In 1914, when most young British men were headed to trench-digging in Europe, former President Teddy Roosevelt, reeling from a loss as a third-party candidate for President, initiated an expedition down an uncharted river in the Amazon rainforest, attempting to leave himself a little geographical legacy. What he apparently expected to be comparable in adventure to a safari in Africa, or an Arctic expedition, turned out to be a living hell. And that legacy of mapping the River of Doubt would toda ...more
The account of Teddy Roosevelt's wild Amazon journey. After losing his bid for a 3rd term, a depressed Roosevelt heads for Brazil on a mission for the Natrual History Museum in NY. What started as a benign tour turned into a harrowing expedition to chart an unknown tributary - The River of Doubt. It was a journey that drove Roosevelt to the brink of suicide. The story is a page-turner - - an adventure or a calamity awaits the team around every corner. Just as gripping are the personalities invol ...more
Mark Fallon
Theodore Roosevelt is my personal historical hero. He acomplished more in his "strenuous life" than most people even dream about. He was a Progressive liberal who championed personal responsibility, an ardent militant who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for stopping an ongoing war. He read and wrote constantly.

At a time when most men would have sought out retirement, he took on one last, great adventure - travelling and mapping out the "River of Doubt", a tributary of the Amazon River in Brazi
nonfiction usually requires a bit more from me than fiction--not the case here. this book is hard to put down. the book centers around theodore roosevelt's trek along an unexplored river in the amazon rainforest. an incredible journey that takes you into the heart of the amazon--i am still fathoming some of the life forms described there. whew!-- as well as into the character of the larger than life character of theodore roosevelt. i couldn't figure out how to feel about this former president... ...more
Heidi Wiechert
The River of Doubt is non-fiction at its best. First of all, the story is amazing. The whole thing reads like a dungeon crawl through a jungle scenario, but it actually happened! Throughout the book, as the men struggle with leaky canoes, predators on land and in the river, cannibals (really!), constant insects and bacteria, discontent among the party itself, and their quest to go down a river that no one has ever gone down before, Millard puts in back stories for everyone so that you really car ...more
Rex Fuller
The former President and perhaps the most famous man in the world, Teddy Roosevelt, told his companions to go on without him and leave him in the jungle to die. Roosevelt’s leg was infected form a gash he suffered on rocks while dealing with one of the many rapids they were forced to go around on the River of Doubt. He was too much of a burden and slowing their progress, costing time they did not have the provisions for. The fate of the other men was so risky they might have done it except that ...more
They don't make 'em like Theodore Roosevelt anymore. It's hard to imagine any modern ex-President embarking on a journey like that of Roosevelt's, months spent charting and surveying a previously unknown river in the heart of the rainforest, one of the most dangerous and inhospitable places on earth, out of contact with all civilisation, a small party thrown entirely on their own devices. Hell, it's all but impossible to imagine any President, past, present or future embarking on such a journey. ...more
Roosevelt Speech Meme

If you've never imaged searched "Roosevelt Meme" or "Teddy Roosevelt Meme" you should. It's hilarious.

Roosevelt Amazon Meme

Roosevelt Cage Fighter Meme

Roosevelt Lincoln Meme

Roosevelt, as you've probably gathered, was tough as nails. ...If the nails were made of something much tougher than what nails are currently made of.

If you want to look at someone who "lived" life, yeah... just yea. I often hear that we shouldn't invest in things, we should invest in experiences. Roosevelt must have heard that too.

I can only imagine what my wife would say if I said, "Buck up ho
Jeff Kelly

Today marks Day Two of the Obama presidency and almost exactly a century since William Howard Taft replaced Teddy Roosevelt as U.S. president.

For Roosevelt, his departure from the land’s highest and most powerful political office marked the beginning of a period in which he struggled to find meaning and purpose.

He initially channeled his prodigious energy into big game hunting in Africa, but eventually found that he missed the stimulation, constant intera
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I knew almost nothing about Teddy Roosevelt and had never heard of the River of Doubt or this incredible journey he undertook with other explorers and adventure-seekers. If you enjoy stories of those struggling to survive, this is your book. Time after time, I wondered why they didn't abandon preparations, for their goal seemed unachievable and fraught with mismanagement. And then when they embarked upon the river, I wondered what would make someone want to chart ...more
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New Providence Me...: January Thursday Book Group choice 3 7 Jan 21, 2014 04:46PM  
  • The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America
  • Colonel Roosevelt
  • The Mapmaker's Wife: A True Tale of Love, Murder, and Survival in the Amazon
  • The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America
  • Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley & Livingstone
  • Through the Brazilian Wilderness
  • The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898
  • Sea of Glory: America's Voyage of Discovery, the U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842
  • River of Darkness: Francisco Orellana's Legendary Voyage of Death and Discovery Down the Amazon
  • A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World
  • Running the Amazon
  • Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival
  • The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century
  • The President Is a Sick Man: Wherein the Supposedly Virtuous Grover Cleveland Survives a Secret Surgery at Sea and Vilifies the Courageous Newspaperman Who Dared Expose the Truth
  • Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe
  • Down the Great Unknown: John Wesley Powell's 1869 Journey of Discovery and Tragedy Through the Grand Canyon
  • The Johnstown Flood
  • Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World
Candice Millard is a former writer and editor for National Geographic magazine. Her first book, The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey, was a New York Times bestseller and was named one of the best books of the year by the New York Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Christian Science Monitor, and Kansas City Star. The River of Doubt was a Barnes & Noble Discover ...more
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“The ordinary traveler, who never goes off the beaten route and who on this beaten route is carried by others, without himself doing anything or risking anything, does not need to show much more initiative and intelligence than an express package," Roosevelt sneered.” 4 likes
“Even more complex and dangerous than the river itself were the fishes, mammals, and reptiles that inhabited it. Like the rain forest that surrounds and depends upon it, the Amazon river system is a prodigy of speciation and diversity, serving as home to more than three thousand species of freshwater fishes—more than any other river system on earth. Its waters are crowded with creatures of nearly every size, shape, and evolutionary adaptation, from tiny neon tetras to thousand-pound manatees to pink freshwater boto dolphins to stingrays to armor-plated catfishes to bullsharks. By comparison, the entire Missouri and Mississippi river system that drains much of North America has only about 375 fish” 1 likes
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