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The River of Doubt
Cover of The River of Doubt
The River of Doubt
Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey
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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...
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...
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  • 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.
    From the soaring beauty of the Amazon rain forest to the darkest night of Theodore Roosevelt's life, here is Candice Millard's dazzling debut.

Excerpts-

  • From the book

    CHAPTER 1


    Defeat


    The line outside Madison Square Garden started to form at 5:30 p.m., just as an orange autumn sun was setting in New York City on Halloween Eve, 1912. The doors were not scheduled to open for another hour and a half, but the excitement surrounding the Progressive Party's last major rally of the presidential campaign promised a packed house. The party was still in its infancy, fighting for a foothold in its first national election, but it had something that the Democrats had never had and the Republicans had lately lost, the star attraction that drew tens of thousands of people to the Garden that night: Theodore Roosevelt.

    Roosevelt, one of the most popular presidents in his nation's history, had vowed never to run again after winning his second term in the White House in 1904. But now, just eight years later, he was not only running for a third term, he was, to the horror and outrage of his old Republican backers, running as a third-party candidate against Democrats and Republicans alike.

    Roosevelt's decision to abandon the Republican Party and run as a Progressive had been bitterly criticized, not just because he was muddying the political waters but because he still had a large and almost fanatically loyal following. Roosevelt was five feet eight inches tall, about average height for an American man in the early twentieth century, weighed more than two hundred pounds, and had a voice that sounded as if he had just taken a sip of helium, but his outsized personality made him unforgettable--and utterly irresistible. He delighted in leaning over the podium as though he were about to snatch his audience up by its collective collar; he talked fast, pounded his fists, waved his arms, and sent a current of electricity through the crowd. "Such unbounded energy and vitality impressed one like the perennial forces of nature," the naturalist John Burroughs once wrote of Roosevelt. "When he came into the room it was as if a strong wind had blown the door open."

    Not surprisingly, Roosevelt was proving to be dangerous competition for the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson, to say nothing of President William Howard Taft, the lackluster Republican incumbent whom Roosevelt had hand-picked to be his successor in the White House four years earlier. It was a bitterly contested race, and Roosevelt hoped that this rally, strategically scheduled just a week before election day, could help swing the vote in his favor.

    Before the doors even opened, more than a hundred thousand people were swarming the sidewalks and choking the surrounding cobblestone streets. Men and boys nimbly wove their way through the crowd, boldly hawking tickets in plain sight of a hundred uniformed policemen. The scalpers had their work cut out for them selling tickets in the churning throng. Days earlier the Progressive Party, nicknamed the Bull Moose Party in honor of its tenacious leader, had posted a no more tickets sign, but brokers and street-corner salesmen had continued to do a brisk business. Dollar seats went for as much as seven dollars--roughly $130 in today's money--and the priciest tickets in the house could set the buyer back as much as a hundred dollars. On the chaotic black market, however, even experienced con men could not be sure what they had actually bought. When Vincent Astor, son of financier John Jacob Astor, arrived at his box, he found it already occupied by George Graham Rice, lately of Blackswell's Island--then one of New York's grimmest penitentiaries. When the police escorted him out, Rice complained bitterly that he had paid ten dollars for the two choice seats.

    More than two thousand people tried to make it...

About the Author-

  • is a former writer and editor for National Geographic magazine. She lives in Kansas City.

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine After his presidency, Theodore Roosevelt and his son Kermit organized an expedition down an uncharted tributary of the Amazon River for science and adventure. Party members suffered or died from malaria, starvation, drowning, carnivorous fish, venomous reptiles, natives with poison-tipped arrows, and parasites. Paul Michael reads the dangerous chapter in the ex-president's life with enthusiasm and vitality as his easy-to-understand voice travels from one disaster to another. He imitates TR's voice with a little twang and produces a Desi Arnaz English for the Brazilian colonel leading the trek. Michael also vocally punctuates the abundant quoted material with a slight pause beforehand and handles the foreign words with ease. J.A.H. (c) AudioFile 2006, Portland, Maine
  • AudioFile Magazine Theodore Roosevelt's response to the disappointment of losing the 1912 presidential election was to organize and join an uncharted expedition through the Amazon along a treacherous and unpredictable path, "the river of doubt." Richard Ferrone recounts this story with diligence and precise Brazilian enunciation where required. His fervor builds to a suspenseful peak as Roosevelt, his son, their American cohorts, and a band of Brazilian guides endure starvation, Indian attacks, disease, and near drowning in the river's unforgiving rapids. Ferrone's narrative provides inspiration to listeners with his insight into Roosevelt's tenacity, which characterized this true American hero and "man of men." B.J.P. (c) AudioFile 2006, Portland, Maine
  • Janet Maslin, The New York Times "A rich, dramatic tale that ranges from the personal to the literally earth-shaking."
  • The Washington Post "[A] fine account . . . There are far too many books in which a travel writer follows in the footsteps of his or her hero--and there are far too few books like this, in which an author who has spent time and energy ferreting out material from archival sources weaves it into a gripping tale."
  • Entertainment Weekly "[N]o frills, high-adventure writing . . . Millard's sober account is as claustrophobic as a walk through the densest jungle, and as full of vigor as Roosevelt himself."

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Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey
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