The River of Doubt

By Candice Millard,

Book cover of The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey

Book description

In 1912, shortly after losing his bid to spend a third term as American President to Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt with his son Kermit, a Brazilian guide and a band of camaradas set off deep into the Amazon jungle and a very uncertain fate. Although Roosevelt did eventually return from…

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Why read it?

7 authors picked The River of Doubt as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Even though shot at while participating in the Spanish-American War, and even shot in the chest by a would-be assassin while running for President decades later, the most dangerous adventure of Theodore Roosevelt took place in the jungles of Brazil after he was President.

Millard in this fantastic work seamlessly marries two complex topics. First being the personality of our 26th President whose varied accomplishments included writing over 30 books and being the first American to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The second is the ecosystems of the Amazon, which damn near killed Roosevelt on his descent down an…

After soundly losing the 1912 presidential election to Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt wants to cleanse his mind and spirit. Rather than take a cushy ‘round-the-world cruise, he attempts the first unmapped trip down a rapids-choked, piranha-infested tributary of the Amazon. The name “River of Doubt” perhaps should have deterred him. But Teddy and his mates press on and persevere through disease, drownings, starvation, death, and Indigenous Indian attacks; providing Candice Millard with fodder for her wonderfully gritty book.

How hair-raising an adventure was it? Shortly after a frazzled Roosevelt returns to the comforts of home, two expeditions set out to…

Millard’s account of Theodore Roosevelt’s 1913-14 expedition almost 1,000 miles down a treacherous, unmapped river in the Amazon is riveting, a twisting, suspenseful plot with larger-than-life characters. The rainforest literally comes alive, sometimes loud and threatening, sometimes dark and foreboding, physically and psychologically impenetrable. Time and again, the expedition encounters churning rapids, and has to decide whether to run them, risking lives or the loss of dugouts and supplies, or hack its way through the forest on a portage that can take several days. To research the book, Millard, a former writer and editor for National Geographic, embarked on…

I thought I knew about the life of Theodore Roosevelt, but River of Doubt proved me wrong and I was hooked by the second page. After his term as President, Roosevelt undertakes a grueling mission to explore an uncharted tributary of the Amazon with his son and a couple of others. Roosevelt's grit and determination prove no match for the river and rainforest. Several times they are on the brink of death or are lost.

Besides learning about science and nature I was interested in how different people respond to stress. I might have given up and never been heard…

I grew up in North Dakota, a state that celebrates Teddy Roosevelt as their own. This book is not only a great adventure story, it is a fascinating biographical portrait of Theodore Roosevelt. In a punishing expedition on an uncharted segment of the Amazon River, Roosevelt and his party undertook a trip so difficult, that on their return, many did not believe it to be true. The expedition nearly cost Roosevelt his life and, in the end, changed him forever.

From Kaylene's list on outdoor travel and adventure.

Millard’s book is a thrilling account of Roosevelt last big adventure, an attempt to chart Brazil’s Rio da Dúvida, or “River of Doubt,” later renamed Roosevelt River. Millard is a gifted narrator, who uses the story of a former president risking his life in the jungle to explore the motivations that drove this very complicated man through his entire life.

What Roosevelt and his party go through in this story of their expedition down an unexplored tributary of the Amazon is insane. Quitting isn’t an option, they have to go forward until they either make it, or don’t. And most of the original crew and all their expedition equipment don’t. Images of the vividly described characters arriving at yet another waterfall, or dangerous rapid, around which they have to portage increasingly fewer people and belongings, over near impenetrable and hostile jungle terrain, still gives me the willies. Pure distilled perseverance here—not a choice, but necessary for survival.

From Tania's list on about not quitting.

Want books like The River of Doubt?

Our community of 10,000+ authors has personally recommended 100 books like The River of Doubt.

Browse books like The River of Doubt

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Teddy Roosevelt, Brazil, and presidential biography?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Teddy Roosevelt, Brazil, and presidential biography.

Teddy Roosevelt Explore 42 books about Teddy Roosevelt
Brazil Explore 72 books about Brazil
Presidential Biography Explore 18 books about presidential biography