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Roosevelt's Beast

3.34  ·  Rating Details  ·  434 Ratings  ·  106 Reviews
A reimagining of Teddy and Kermit Roosevelt's ill-fated 1914 Amazon expedition—a psychological twist on the smart historical thriller that first put Louis Bayard on the map

1914. Brazil's Rio da Dúvida, the River of Doubt. Plagued by hunger and suffering the lingering effects of malaria, Theodore Roosevelt, his son Kermit, and the other members of the now-ravaged Roosevelt-
Hardcover, 299 pages
Published March 18th 2014 by Henry Holt and Co.
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(showing 1-30 of 1,939)
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Richard Derus
Sep 04, 2014 Richard Derus rated it really liked it
Rating: 4.5* of five

The Publisher Says: 1914. Brazil’s Rio da Dúvida, the River of Doubt. Plagued by hunger and suffering the lingering effects of malaria, Theodore Roosevelt, his son Kermit, and the other members of the now-ravaged Roosevelt-Rondon scientific expedition are traveling deeper and deeper into the jungle. When Kermit and Teddy are kidnapped by a never-before-seen Amazonian tribe, the great hunters are asked one thing in exchange for their freedom: find and kill a beast that leaves
Apr 04, 2014 Kyra rated it liked it
Disclosure: I received an ARC for review.
There are some minor spoilers, so do not read if you have not read the book yet.

I like the genre of historical fiction, so I was intrigued by the concept.

Overall it worked. I enjoyed a recounting of the expedition and it's troubles. The author managed to work in the story within the context of real events without making too many implausible changes to real events. I knew very little of the trip so I had plenty of suspense about the fate of the expedition.
Apr 02, 2014 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Offering an intriguing twist to the history of the 1914 Roosevelt-Rondon expedition to Brazil’s Rio da Duvida, “Roosevelt’s Beast” by Louis Bayard presents a disturbing story that is rich in atmospheric suspense. It is, in Bayard’s own words, “a psychological fantasy built out of historic events,” and the very setting—the River of Doubt—lends itself to the mythological feel of the work. While featuring the inimitable Theodore Roosevelt, the story’s main protagonist is his solemn and somewhat bel ...more
Jonathan Smith
Jul 06, 2014 Jonathan Smith rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
See, this is why I haven't written a novel. Okay, maybe it's only part of why. But *you* read this first line, and tell me that doesn't make every beginning you've ever jotted down seem a little...inadequate.

I thoroughly enjoyed this. I have similarly enjoyed other fictionalized historical accounts, like Dan Simmon's the Terror, so maybe I have a soft spot for this, but if this is genre fiction, it is of the highest quality, plumbing the depths of family, responsibility, and destiny in a way fe
The Bookend Family
Nov 05, 2014 The Bookend Family rated it really liked it
Let me start out by saying that Roosevelt’s Beast by Louis Bayard is a very good book. It‘s both smart and wise, and taut and tense, a well-researched novel that is both a work of literature and a solid thriller. So why didn’t I give it more stars?

I am a huge fan of Mr. Bayard, and have been reading him since his first book. In particular I would suggest The Pale Blue Eye and Mr. Timothy, two novels cut from the same cloth as Roosevelt’s Beast. Also, Theodore Roosevelt is one of my true heroes,
Greg Z
Dec 14, 2015 Greg Z rated it it was ok
This is the third book I've read by Louis Bayard. The first was "The School of Night" and it was good, an interesting take on historical/conspiracy/thrillers. The second was "The Pale Blue Eye" which I liked even better than "Night." It's hard for me to separate "Roosevelt's Beast" from those first two, as I've read them recently. It's also hard to separate "Beast" from Dan Simmons' spectacular "The Terror" or from Micheal Crichton's "Congo" which I don't think has aged very well. Anyway, back t ...more
Angus McKeogh
Aug 07, 2015 Angus McKeogh rated it it was ok
I had high hopes for this. The premise seemed really interesting but alas the story didn't deliver. Kind of corny and slow going.
Jun 19, 2014 Albert rated it really liked it
Title - Roosevelt's Beast

Author - Louis Bayard

Summary -

It is 1914, along Brazil's River of Doubt, a band of explorers travel deep into the Amazon. In the party are a father and son of one of America's most powerful families. Theodore Roosevelt and his son Kermit.
But the Roosevelt's become detached from the rest of the group and with Theodore injured, it falls to Kermit to rescue them. Kermit who is plagued with self doubts and an overriding sense of failure must now care for and save his larg
Mar 30, 2014 Mara rated it really liked it
This is a fairly weird mixture of historical fiction and psychological horror (with a touch of adventure thrown in), but it worked for me and I really enjoyed it. Bayard does a really impressive job of keeping both Theodore Roosevelt and his son, Kermit, feeling true to their historical selves even while in these purely imagined situations. Good for Roosevelt or historical fiction fans looking for something different to try.
Jan 23, 2014 Karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: librarything-win
I received this book for free through LibraryThing's Early Reveiwers Giveaway. Thank you very much! It is a great book!

I have never read any books by Louis Bayard before and I was certainly impressed by this book and his writing style. What I found most intriguing about this novel is that he used real, historical people and events to weave a fictionalized, psychological story adventure.

The character of Colonel Theodore Roosevelt was by far my favorite character. He was just so darn likeable tha
Feb 23, 2015 Kristen rated it did not like it
I have read several of Bayard's other books, and loved all of them. Unfortunately, this one did not work for me.

I am not exactly able to put my finger on why I didn't connect to this. Maybe the jungles are not a good setting for me, I wasn't all that thrilled by descriptions of insects and malaria and deadly rapids [my reaction to all of those was basically: "yuck!"].

Maybe the Roosevelts [Teddy and his son Kermit] weren't as interesting as I expected they would be. The portion of the book I rea
Janette Fleming
Oct 12, 2014 Janette Fleming rated it really liked it
"A reimagining of Teddy and Kermit Roosevelt’s ill-fated 1914 Amazon expedition—a psychological twist on the smart historical thriller that first put Louis Bayard on the map
1914. Brazil’s Rio da Dúvida, the River of Doubt. Plagued by hunger and suffering the lingering effects of malaria, Theodore Roosevelt, his son Kermit, and the other members of the now-ravaged Roosevelt-Rondon scientific expedition are travelling deeper and deeper into the jungle. When Kermit and Teddy are kidnapped by a neve
May 20, 2014 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
I like Bayard's work, so I was excited to try this one out. It was enjoyable, but a little strange. It makes me want to pick up Candice Millard's The River of Doubt for a look at the factual expedition.

The relationship between T.R. and his son, Kermit, is one of the best parts of the novel; their story, including their family history, is well-drawn, and their characters seem natural, though I wanted more of the two of them interacting. The hunt for, and subsequent revelation of, the Beast is l
May 07, 2014 Bob rated it liked it
Bayard's strengths and weaknesses both shine through in this historical fiction/horror/mystery novel. This book's strength is that it hurdles on and on like a boulder down a mountainside. It is fast-paced without lacking visuals. However, I sometimes felt like I was watching a movie, and not an especially high budget one at that. There was a transparent formula to the plot and while there was plenty of action, there weren't a lot of surprises. Everything in this book has been done before, countl ...more
Jan 20, 2014 Aubree rated it really liked it
I went into this book with a bit of trepidation as I knew it was a fantasy-horror re-imagining of Roosevelt's Amazon excursion and neither fantasy nor horror are genres I usually read. However, I had heard much praise of Bayard's writing and decided to give it a try. Boy am I glad I did! Roosevelt's Beast is a wonderfully written engaging story that was hard to put down. Narrated by Kermit Roosevelt it interweaves the story of the expedition (including Bayard's incorporation of a kidnapping and ...more
Ridge Multop
Jul 01, 2014 Ridge Multop rated it liked it
Bayard is a wonderful writer, and this contains many well-written passages. Even the fantastic plot was creative. However, I got the feeling around 2/3 of the way through that he had run out of story and moved into overdrive to get to the end. Purple prose abounded. Not his best, but better than most.
Wendy Henning
May 06, 2015 Wendy Henning rated it it was amazing
Perhaps I'm biased since Louis Bayard is from my hometown, but his writing simply amazes me. When reading his books, I spend half the time immersed in the story and the other half wishing I could write like that.
Dan Radovich
Nov 14, 2013 Dan Radovich rated it it was amazing
Once more Bayard works his magic taking a real event and creating a fictionalized spin to it all his own. For those not familiar with Louis Bayard, you have been missing a true talent in historical fiction. His plot lines are tight and swift. His characters more believable than real life, and his over all writing style is superior to most in his craft. This tale of Teddy and Kermit Roosevelt's 1914 odyssey on The River of Doubt is a masterful mix of adventure and horror with some family history ...more
Darlene Franklin
Apr 11, 2014 Darlene Franklin rated it liked it
A great read to learn more about Kermit Roosevelt and his famous father. Together they travel thru the wilds of Brazil meeting hardship, unknown tribes, and dangerous turns. A mix of the real and the beasts that torture.
Apr 08, 2014 Janellyn51 rated it really liked it
This was an easy read, and I liked it a lot. I'll be interested to look further into Kermit Roosevelt. Always got a kick out of Teddy. It's kind of creepy, about the Beastie, and all that.
Jul 14, 2014 Cynthia rated it liked it
I enjoyed some of the book and the authors writing style. I did not enjoy the depth of the supernatural portion of the story. I kept waiting for Kermit to wake up and it to have all been a dream. I have read The River of Doubt, the nonfiction version of the expedition and loved it.This one? Not so much.
May 14, 2014 Nick rated it liked it
Atmosphere, characterization are really well done. But I wish the supernatural stuff made more sense. It lacked coherence even within the imaginings of the novel. Is the beast a horrific manifestation of one persons psychological disturbance, or is it real? The evidence goes both ways, and sorry but that just disturbs me. I like horror to have a certain logic to it. Kermit and especially TR really come alive as characters, so bravo to the author for that.
Feb 05, 2014 Patricia rated it liked it
Roosevelt's Beast was an enjoyable historical fiction/thriller. A retelling of
Steve Smits
May 28, 2014 Steve Smits rated it liked it
Bayard takes a fictionalized spin on the true life adventure of Teddy Roosevelt and his son Kermit on the exploration of the River of Doubt in the Amazon in 1914. The best non-fiction account of this nearly disastrous trip down a previously unexplored tributary of the Amazon River is Candace Millard's "The River of Doubt". Bayard adds a story in which the Roosevelt's are captured by an unknown tribe. To secure their release the Roosevelt's must kill a "Beast" that has been ravaging members of th ...more
Jul 20, 2014 Thom rated it it was amazing
Because I'm a Roosevelt fan, this book already started with some stars. The pleasant surprise and "dee-light" however, is that I think the book stands on its own for quality. I was quickly drawn in and led off in the authors world.

Teddie and his son Kermit went on an exploration journey in South America after Teddie's unsuccessful attempt at reelection in 1912. The factual story is told well in RIVER OF DOUBT, and this fictional narrative draws well from that history. But it is a pretense for e
Gail Multop
Jul 07, 2014 Gail Multop rated it it was ok
I wish the author had written a slightly more realistic fiction account of the Roosevelt Amazon trip. The real story was harrowing enough. Kermit was a fascinating counterpoint to his father. I could have done without all of the skin peeling and fantasy gore.
Mark Maddrey
Apr 09, 2014 Mark Maddrey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, literature
Wow. When I decided to read this book there were competing forces at work. On the one hand, I have read four of his previous books and loved every one of them, but on the other hand I am not generally a fan of adventurer fiction (if you will) and often find the entire Teddy Roosevelt mythos to be overdone and boring (Nats racing Presidents notwithstanding). I am happy to report that the first hand one, easily. This was a book that worked on a number of levels, it was a fast paced thriller, a won ...more
Jun 14, 2014 Bill rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I already love Bayard's tight mysteries, written in his lush style, and peopled with characters that roar off the page. Each novel is a treat for fans of detective fiction or just rich, gorgeous prose. Only this time, he tackles the supernatural head-on. I could read his dialogue between Teddy and Kermit Roosevelt all day long, but when he plunges them into the harsh, dark Amazon jungle in an honest-to-God monster tale, it's as if Bayard stole into my brain and pulled out every ...more
Aug 15, 2014 Erin rated it really liked it
This was truly amazing. A horror twist on the great Roosevelt expedition on the Amazon... the book really brings you into the world of a rainforest populated by savages, a world in which civilized men brave all odds to explore and encounter evil beyond which they have ever known. Well imagined, atmospheric and beautifully done. I loved this book!
Aug 10, 2014 Julie rated it it was ok
2 1/2 stars. Easy/quick read, but a bit too supernatural for me for this type of story. I have nothing against fantasy and paranormal genres, but this didn't seem to fit in the adventure category of the Roosevelts traveling down an uncharted river in the Amazon.
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A staff writer for, Bayard has written articles and reviews for the New York Times, the Washington Post,, and Preservation, among others. Bayard lives in Washington, D.C.
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“You are asking us to lie, Colonel?"
"I am asking you to omit. Surely, amidst the...the infinite gradations of human venality, that particular sin ranks low." The old man kneaded the folds of his throat. "What happened out there belongs out there. The jungle has it; let the jungle keep it...”
“Here was the thing about traveling down an uncharted river: You could only say how long you'd been traveling; you could never say how long it would be.” 1 likes
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