Did you know that Theodore Roosevelt ran for a third term, this time with the Progressive Party, a new, independent third party? That when he lost, he decided to join an expedition of The River of Doubt, a tributary of the Amazon River? He did, along with the Brazilian explorer Candido Rondon and Roosevelt’s son, Kermit. Of the nineteen men who attempted to map The River of Doubt, only sixteen survived.
Everything that could go wrong did. The explorers contracted serious diseases, lost canoes and built new ones, encountered white water rapids and portaged around them, and faced starvation and rebellion. One man drowned, one was murdered, and one (the murderer) was left behind. Roosevelt himself, suffering from Malaria, was wounded in his leg and developed an almost fatal infection. He even considered suicide before they were found by native “rubber-trappers” who helped them traverse the river back to civilization.
The descriptions of these events and of the dense, dangerous Amazon forest are absolutely riveting. Written by Candice Millard, this book is a must for anyone interested in the tragedy and triumphs of historical exploration.