Thursday, October 7, 2010

My Favorite Reads: The River of Doubt by Candice Millard

In My Favorite Reads each week I feature one of my favorite reads from the past. October is National Reading Group Month, so all month I'll be featuring books that we've read in my book book club that had good discussions and that I recommend to others.

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

Summary (from GoodReads):
"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, Candido 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 nonfiction narrative thriller that happens to feature one of the most famous Americans who ever lived.

Why I chose this book:
Thanks to my book club, I read this right after The Lost City of Z, and am now the resident turn-of-the-century Amazon-exploration expert. Only one character overlaps between the two stories (Rondon) but he's pretty important in both books. What Roosevelt and his compatriots did on this trip was amazing. It would be harrowing and dangerous even now, with cell phones and GPS devices. To imagine being starving, carrying thousand-pound canoes around hundreds of rapids, while being stalked by hostile native tribes and not knowing when (if) you're going to come to the end of the river and rescue, it took nerves of steel to go on. Roosevelt is of course very inspiring, as were all the men on the trip (with one exception). Excellent armchair adventure.


Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Oh, it does sound amazing! Armchair adventures are my favorite kind...LOL.

If you'd like, you can find mine here:

Click my name for the link....

Alyce said...

This sounds fantastic! I love good nonfiction, so this one is going on my wish list.

I don't know if you saw it, but in my post today I mentioned that October is going to be my last month of hosting "My Favorite Reads."

Cecelia said...

I've always had a lot of respect for the first Roosevelt president. He was very much 'larger-than-life.' And plus, I LOVE Brazil. I think I must read this one. Great pick!