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The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey People AZ R Roosevelt Theodore Candice Millard Anchor Later Printing edition


31st August 2011 History Books 49 Comments

In a gripping account, Millard focuses on an episode in Teddy Roosevelt’s search for adventure that nearly came to a disastrous end. A year after Roosevelt lost a third-party bid for the White House in 1912, he decided to chase away his blues by accepting an invitation for a South American trip that quickly evolved into an ill-prepared journey down an unexplored tributary of the Amazon known as the River of Doubt. The small group, including T.R.’s son Kermit, was hampered by the failure to pack enough supplies and the absence of canoes sturdy enough for the river’s rapids. An injury Roosevelt sustained became infected with flesh-eating bacteria and left the ex-president so weak that, at his lowest moment, he told Kermit to leave him to die in the rainforest. Millard, a former staff writer for National Geographic, nails the suspense element of this story perfectly, but equally important to her success is the marvelous amount of detail she provides on the wildlife that Roosevelt and his fellow explorers encountered on their journey, as well as the cannibalistic indigenous tribe that stalked them much of the way.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Every critic enjoyed Millards yarn about an ex-presidents fervent desire for adventure and self-acceptance. By focusing on the vivid details of Roosevelts journey to the Amazon as well as his relationship with his son, Millard creates much more than your typical ho-hum adventure. The beauty of this story is not just that Roosevelts rich history could spawn a thousand adventure stories, but that Millards experience with National Geographic is evident in her beautiful scenic descriptions and grisly depictions of the Amazons man-eating catfish, ferocious piranhas, white-water rapids, and prospect of starvation. A story deep in symbolism and thick with research, Millard succeeds where many have not; she has managed to contain a little bit of Teddy Roosevelts energy and warm interactions between the covers of her wonderful new book.

Copyright 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

At once an incredible adventure narrative and a penetrating biographical portrait, The River of Doubt is the true story of Theodore Roosevelts harrowing exploration of one of the most dangerous rivers on earth.

The River of Doubtit 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 Brazils most famous explorer, Cndido 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 Roosevelts life, here is Candice Millards dazzling debut.

The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey

Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone

It is rare when a historical narrative keeps readers up late into the night, especially when the story is as well known as Henry Morgan Stanley’s search for the missionary and explorer David Livingstone. But author and adventurer Dugard, who’s written a biography of Capt. James Cook among other works, makes a suspenseful tale out of journalist Stanley’s successful trek through the African interior to find and rescue a stranded Livingstone. Dugan has read extensively in unpublished diaries, newspapers of the time and the archives of Britain’s Royal Geographical Society; he also visited the African locations central to the story. Together these sources enable him to re-create with immediacy the astounding hardships, both natural and manmade, that Africa put in the path of the two central characters. Dugard also presents thoughtful insights into the psychology of both Stanley and Livingstone, whose respective responses to Africa could not have differed more. Stanley was bent on beating Africa with sheer force of will, matching it brutality for brutality, while Livingstone, possessed of spirituality and a preternatural absence of any fear of death, responded to the continent’s harshness with patience and humility. Descriptions of the African landscape are vivid, as are the descriptions of malaria, dysentery, sleeping sickness, insect infestations, monsoons and tribal wars, all of which Stanley and Livingstone faced. More disturbing, however is Dugard’s depiction of the prosperous Arab slave trade, which creates a sense of menace that often reaches Conradian intensity. This is a well-researched, always engrossing book.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

With the utterance of a single lineDoctor Livingstone, I presume?a remote meeting in the heart of Africa was transformed into one of the most famous encounters in exploration history. But the true story behind Dr. David Livingstone and journalist Henry Morton Stanley is one that has escaped telling. Into Africa is an extraordinarily researched account of a thrilling adventuredefined by alarming foolishness, intense courage, and raw human achievement.

In the mid-1860s, exploration had reached a plateau. The seas and continents had been mapped, the globe circumnavigated. Yet one vexing puzzle remained unsolved: what was the source of the mighty Nile river? Aiming to settle the mystery once and for all, Great Britain called upon its legendary explorer, Dr. David Livingstone, who had spent years in Africa as a missionary. In March 1866, Livingstone steered a massive expedition into the heart of Africa. In his path lay nearly impenetrable, uncharted terrain, hostile cannibals, and deadly predators. Within weeks, the explorer had vanished without a trace. Years passed with no word.

While debate raged in England over whether Livingstone could be foundor rescuedfrom a place as daunting as Africa, James Gordon Bennett, Jr., the brash American newspaper tycoon, hatched a plan to capitalize on the worlds fascination with the missing legend. He would send a young journalist, Henry Morton Stanley, into Africa to search for Livingstone. A drifter with great ambition, but little success to show for it, Stanley undertook his assignment with gusto, filing reports that would one day captivate readers and dominate the front page of the New York Herald.

Tracing the amazing journeys of Livingstone and Stanley in alternating chapters, author Martin Dugard captures with breathtaking immediacy the perils and challenges these men faced. Woven into the narrative, Dugard tells an equally compelling story of the remarkable transformation that occurred over the course of nine years, as Stanley rose in power and prominence and Livingstone found himself alone and in mortal danger. The first book to draw on modern research and to explore the combination of adventure, politics, and larger-than-life personalities involved, Into Africa is a riveting read.

Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone










  • 49 responses to "The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey People AZ R Roosevelt Theodore Candice Millard Anchor Later Printing edition"

  • German Fafian
    12:26 on August 31st, 2011
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    There is a spate of books concerning Theodore Roosevelt’s life: his New York years and first marriage, his cowboy days in the Dakota’s, the Spanish-American War phrase and his presidency. Until last year, there were few books about his retirement decade until Patricia O’Toole’s “When Trumpets Call.” His dangerous exploration of the Amazon rain forest covers a mere 7 pages in Ms. O’Toole’s biography. That exploration is the subject of “The River of Doubt.”

    Does this brief three month trip of discovery on the Rio da Duvida (River of Doubt) warrent a full scale book? In Ms. Millard’s superb account of the near fatal expedition, the answer is yes. The former president was an adrenaline junkie who needed to forget his loss in the 1912 campaign for the White House. He found all the adventure he would ever crave on the Rio da Duvida, for he was way in over his head. If not for their guide, Colonel Candido Rondon, no one would have made it out alive — Roosevelt’s disappearance would have top Amelia Earhart as the mystery of the century. This adventure yarn focuses, not on the political animal, but on a man who would never quit and never did.

  • nedendir
    13:52 on August 31st, 2011
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    Nearly everyone of a certain age knows “Stanley and Livingstone” and the memorable line “Dr. Livingstone, I presume.” It’s just one of those cultural snippets that gets passed down. Martin Dugard’s interesting book gives the story to that shared and brief tidbit. Quite a story it is.

    Dr. Livingstone was a poor boy who made good in Victorian England by earning the admiration of the better classes through exploration and perseverance in Darkest Africa. He would spend most of his adult life on the continent, greatly expanding European knowledge of the geography and peoples there. First as a missionary and later as a great explorer determined to find the source of the Nile River, Livingstone was in his own way a man of peace with great sympathy for Africa and Africans. He particularly detested the very active slave trade and slave raids run by Arabs between the interior and the central eastern coast of the continent.

    Henry Stanley started life as poor and unmoored as one could be in that day and age. A young crewman out of England on a boat headed to New Orleans, he see destined to finish an early life as one of those mid 19th century petty criminals and ne’er-do-wells who described the seedy side of life. He managed to enlist in both the Union and Confederate armies and fight for both during the Civil War. He had though developed a passion for reading and found himself in the newspaper business out west as a free lance journalist. This occupation would be his life raft. Eventually ending up at the New York Herald, Stanley showed a willingness to go anywhere and endure great hardship to deliver what would today be considered blockbuster news to the voracious readership each of New York’s twenty some papers competed for.

    Dr. Livingstone’s quest for the source of the Nile got him lost, physically weak, and stranded without the resources to get out of the interior. His English patrons and the world feared him lost, and his whereabouts were a source of great concern and focus. Here was Stanley’s opportunity. With the promise of his publisher’s help (although Stanley had to talk his way into a lot of credit), the journalist outfitted a secret expedition to find Livingstone and bring the story of his demise or rescue to the world. After almost a year of hard slogging through jungle and desert, mutinous porters and expedition members, participation in a native war, dalliance with Arab slavers, death and desperation on the trail and worry that he wouldn’t find his needle-in-a-haystack, Stanley arrived at a village to discover a thin, sickly and ragged man much of the world had given up for lost and to whom he was able to greet with the immortal line “Dr. Livingstone I presume.”

    This is a well written adventure book that will fascinate on many levels. It offers a great portrait of Stanley and Livingstone as men and the great hardships that shaped their lives. Nineteenth Century exploration in Africa with all the disease, war, slavery, and beauty are painted well on the author’s canvass. The motivations and mindsets of two men-of-action are thoroughly explored. This book weaves all of the above elements into a gripping story that is well worth the time.

  • Satish KC
    18:32 on August 31st, 2011
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    This book is quite a page turner! Funny thing how a title or a subject catches your eye. I knew, for example, that Roosevelt participated in an expedition in South American after losing the Presidential election of 1912. What I did not know was how extraordinary the expedition was, how high risk it was for the 55 year old former President. Millard’s expert narrative features Roosevelt but also pays a great deal of attention to Candido Rondon Brazil’s most famous explorer and Indian rights activist. In addition there is Kermit Roosevelt, Theodore’s son who came along to protect his father and ended up needing to be watched himself. This is, in part, a father-son story. And the rest of the expedition members all seem so real and well defined within these pages.
    I understand Candice Millard is a former National Geographic writer/editor and this really is the strength of her story telling. She brings to life the jungle environment, for example the Indians the expedition never saw or understood she covers in interesting detail so the reader fully understands the threat they posed. In some morbid detail Millard brings this world to life. She explains everything in a most entertaining way. She goes from discussing the ground cover, to the trees overhead and how they grow, to the rapids, man eating fish, and even a murder. I had to sit back in my chair while reading about the tiny cat fish that are so small that they are able to prey on larger fish victims by entering the gills to suck their blood. I will leave it for you to read where these tiny blood sucking cat fish enter the human body when confused.
    This is a trip that almost killed Theodore Roosevelt and perhaps took years off his life. He finally found out what it was like to be a real explorer. He in deed did actually put a river on the map for the first time. I think you will find this stranger than fiction tale puts you into a page turning frenzy.

  • PaulTheZombie
    19:41 on August 31st, 2011
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    This is a fascinating account of Theodore Roosevelt’s expedition through the Brazilian wilderness in The River of Doubt. This book was especially interesting for me as my great great grandfather is Candido Mariano da Silva Rondon, the co-commander of the Roosevelt-Rondon Scientific expedition which put the Rio de Duvida, later renamed the Rio Roosevelt, on the map.

    The author is a former writer and editor for National Geographic magazine and brings that adventurous spirit and knowledge into her writing. She did extensive research for the book into not only the history of the region but also the biology. But this information isn’t just tossed into the book for the sake of trivia. Instead she weaves each piece of info into the story. For example, she discusses Roosevelt’s foreign policy specifically as it relates to South America while, in the story, Roosevelt’s ship is steaming toward Brazil. At other points she discusses fish as large as sharks in order to explain the type of psychological pressures the men were up against as they went along their journey. Also, when helpful for the story, she details relevant biographical information for the purpose of character development.

    The story reads like a fiction novel though it is a well-documented and footnoted true story. The suspense involved makes it a page-turner that you don’t want to put down. All in all, she fits a broad range of biography, history, and biology into a fascinating true story that reads like a suspense fiction. If you are into to nature, adventure travel, history, or even just quality books, this is the one for you.

    I didn’t know much about my great great grandfather, Rondon for short, until I read the book. Today he is national icon in Brazil. Kind of like a Lewis & Clark type of figure. He explored and surveyed more of the Amazon than anyone before him had and probably more than anyone since. To quote Millard about his life after the expedition,

    “He was hounded by photographers and journalists, invited to meet the president of Brazil, asked to run for political office (an opportunity he repeatedly declined), and promoted first to brigadier general and then, near the end of his life, to marshal. In the 1920s, after meeting Rondon on a trip to Brazil, Albert Einstein nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize, and, in 1956, the Brazilian government renamed a territory of ninety-four thousand square miles — nearly twice the size of England — Rondonia in his honor.”

    But what stands out most to me, and this quality is referenced in the above quote by his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, is his work with the Amazon Indians. He was the first westerner to make contact with dozens of tribes. So isolated were some of them that these River dwelling people had never even conceived of the concept of a boat, nearly 2000 years after the time of Jesus’ calmed the seas from one! Rondon had a love for the Indians who were treated as no more than objects by most of the westerners entering the territory.

    A large part of his legacy is the founding of the National Indian Protection service, or FUNAI, in Brazil. His mission: peace. The difficulty: these Indians were not peaceful. He appeared to be a bit of a pacifist, but not at all out of cowardice. Rather it was on principle. This man who obtained the highest rank in the Brazilian Army, Field Marshal, had a quote : “Die if you must, but never kill.” He knew peace could only be made between the two violent sides by standing in the gap and laying down your own life, if that’s what it took.

    Hopefully that’s enough detail to give you an idea of what the book is about and get you excited about reading it. Enjoy!

  • Ripel
    21:34 on August 31st, 2011
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    When I saw River of Doubt it struck me as a fascinating story and I immediately put in my order with Amazon. As I waited for it to arrive, I began to worry that I might have been too impulsive. Afterall, a fascinating story can be as limp as milk toast in the hands of a mediocre writer. I wondered if the author would bring Roosevelt’s Amazon journey to life without adding so many extraneous details about Roosevelt himself that the real adventure was lost. Or, on the other hand, not supplying enough details about the central characters to allow me to understood the true context in which the adventure occurred.

    After I got the book and started to read, all of my concerns were put aside. Completely. I know next to nothing about T. Roosevelt. Millard gave me what I needed to know to understand why he would take such a dangerous trip, at such a late age, in the first place.

    She was equally masterful with all the other participants (many fascinating characters in their own right). I think Millard was near perfect in giving the background of people and why they ended up on this diasterous adventure while keeping the story moving at a fascinating and absorbing clip. One really gets a sense of how people were feeling when they started with what they thought would be a casual adventure and found themselves descending into one of Earth’s strangest hells. It’s a spellbinding story delivered by a very competent writer and researcher.

    I’ve always enjoyed true stories of the Amazon River. Miller’s River of Doubt is fascinating, informing, and gripping and stands with the best of them.

  • TrafficWarden
    21:58 on August 31st, 2011
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    The River of Doubt, by Candice Millard, is the true story of how one of the most popular United States presidents risked his life and those of others to put a nearly thousand mile tributary of the Amazon River on the map . The very day this book arrived in the mail, I stole it from its owner because I wanted to see how professional naturalists, who get books written about them, went about their jobs.

    Millard does an excellent job of carving out an engaging story of what is essentially the same situation: canoeing down the river until confronted with rapids, unloading the canoes and bushwacking around the rapids for hours or days, returning to the water only to repeat the experience after 20 minutes of smooth canoeing. She accomplishes this by constantly reframing the river-bound narrative with different incidents: sickness, starvation, murder and threat of attack by the Cinta Larga, the native Amazonians.

    Millard builds sympathy for the protagonist, Theodore Roosevelt, by highlighting the heroic effort it took for his team to emerge alive from this adventure. At times, I’d be swept up in the emotion of living life to the fullest, even to the expense of dying. While reading the book, I accepted Roosevelt’s proposal that his journey was a worthy endeavor. However, after I put the book down, I began to critique his motives. It seemed to me as though Roosevelt were running away from his election defeat of a third presidential term and trying to quickly reestablish his persona as a national treasure. I came away with the feeling that Roosevelt did not really care about the essence of the ecosystem.

    As an artist, birder and naturalist, I’ve come to realize understanding an ecosystem only comes with an invested amount of time spent there. Roosevelt forced his own objectives on the expedition, accelerating their pace from the start and insisting the Brazilian representatives put aside their plans to survey the surrounding area as they went down the river. So the heroes, who received the glory upon their return to the civilized world ended up behaving like a bunch of Indian Jones types, running around, getting in trouble with the natives, dealing with life and death situations, but not really getting much scientific work done.

    While Millard pays service to the environmental situation, and the Amazon’s prowess, these elements never succeed in becoming compelling characters in the story, but only serve as the backdrop behind Roosevelt’s own internal conflict. The subtitle Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey perfectly fortells this work as the chronicle of a pride injured ex-president conquistador trying to get in one last hurrah before the world passes him by. Unlike the characters in The Life Aquatic, where the naturalists are humbled by the very presence of the animal they hunt, I never got the feeling that Roosevelt emerged from his experience having acquired a sense of his place in the world or even any peace with himself.

    -L.H.

  • John Baxter
    0:53 on September 1st, 2011
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    I learned so much! I was surprised at every chapter of Into Africa by Martin Dugard. The author did a great job of building the story and releasing ‘pearls of surprise’ in each chapter! ‘Stanley and Livingstone’ is a household word, yet I knew very little when I started reading. The author writes with the authority of a historian and details the most important and trivial episodes in the adventures with the same multiple adjectives. The bios of the 2 main characters were the least of the book. Stanley – perseverence; Livingstone – fearless. The author’s descriptions of the medical issues encountered in the jungle, the discomforts, obstacles, were so daunting you can’t imagine anyone voluntarily continuing on! I learned details of the slave trade from within Africa that I never heard before – Arabs and Portuguese roles in the market. Even the timeframe, 1870s, just after the US Civil War was news to me! The newspaper vying for news scoops, the adventure journalist. The Royal Geographic Society! The quest for the source of the Nile! It was exciting times…

  • nedendir
    2:19 on September 1st, 2011
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    If the only thing you ever knew about Stanley and Livingstone was the famous phrase “Dr. Livingstone, I presume”, but would really like to know the underlying story and enjoy a truly remarkable adventure, this is a great book to read. Livingstone had spend his career in Africa and was probably one of the most famous white explorers of his time, having walked across Africa in the first half of the 19th century. He returned when he was older to find the source of the Nile. He became ill and lost, and many presumed he was dead. The most amazing, exciting and improbable part of the story is Stanley, a complete unknown, who showed resourcefulness and courage as a correspondent on assignnment by the New York Herald. He was sent to find Livingstone and “scoop the story.” You will be amazed and on the edge of your couch when you learn how he did it by overcoming disease, insects, tribal warfare, and impassable jungle.

  • Satish KC
    7:00 on September 1st, 2011
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    The search for the source of the Nile was one of the last great mysteries left for geographic explorers and Dr. David Livingstone was one of the men most committed to solving the age old question. When he was lost in the heart of Africa, Henry Stanley, a reporter and world-traveling rogue, decided he would earn his fame and fortune finding the lost explorer. Their lives never connected until their famous meeting in Africa, but Dugard does an excellent job presenting their lives up to that fateful moment by alternating chapters and giving the sense that they were destined to meet. This is a very well written and extensively researched book and will be a great read for people who already know a lot about Stanley and Livingstone or readers like me coming to the book knowing next to nothing. It will also please readers who typically have little interest in non-fiction, because it is such a fast-paced drama. I would highly recommend this book to all readers.

  • PaulTheZombie
    8:08 on September 1st, 2011
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    This fascinating account of Theodore Roosevelt’s disastrous trip on the River of Doubt is well-written and meticulously researched. It has many “micro histories” on the flora and fauna of Brazil (hint: don’t read this outside around a lot of bugs) as well as the native peoples of the region. My only frustration had to do with all the diversions when, on a few occasions, I just wanted to find out what happened next. The epilogue tells the reader the sometimes tragic personal stories once the journey ended and was one of the portions of the book that I shall remember the most. I read this as a book club assignment and we had a lengthy and lively discussion on Roosevelt, his son, and the men who played such a critical part of their journey. If you like a lot of detail in harrowing stories of exploration and adventure, this would be a perfect choice.

  • pop frame
    10:59 on September 1st, 2011
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    “Doctor Livingstone, I presume?” The formal question, ringing of Victorian propriety, is well known, and when it first became news after it was uttered in 1871, it was a sensation. It represented the climax of global exploration; never again would the world concentrate so on the efforts of men tramping through the unknown. The story of the search for the source of the Nile has been told many times. The current retelling, _Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley & Livingstone_ (Doubleday) by Martin Dugard, tells the story of two vastly different explorers and the unimaginable hardships they went through on their travels through what was known as “the dark continent.” Dugard weaves the stories of the explorers, and those who went before them, their backers, the nationalistic goals of the time, and of course the dangers of the trail, to recount the tale in full. It is still a grandly exciting story.

    David Livingstone originally went to Africa as a 27-year-old missionary; Dugard points out that this was before missionary work became tainted with imperialism. He was going to save souls, but he got bored, and he was disgusted by the boredom of his converts during public worship. He requested permission to “go forward into the dark interior,” and when it was granted, he looked forward to the prospect with “inexpressible delight.” In 1886, he set out to find the source of the Nile. He entered the continent, and was lost to the outside world for five years. Speculation about his condition, and rumors about his death, were widespread. The _New York Herald_, sensing a scoop, sent roving reporter Henry Stanley to find him. The treks of both Stanley and Livingstone as jointly recounted here are full of distressing accounts of malaria, dysentery, hookworms, and maggots eating living flesh. Then there are starvation, dehydration, floods, tribal wars, thorns, ants, crocodiles, and much more. Livingstone, evidencing the sort of humorous understatement that must have supported him well, wrote in his journal, “It is not all pleasure, this exploration.” After being found, Livingstone did not return to England with his new friend, but died two years later still searching for the authentic source of the Nile. His heart was buried in Africa, and the rest of him in Westminster Abbey. Stanley was a pallbearer.

    There is plenty of history here, and exciting, often gruesome, adventure, told in a spellbinding prose. We will have no exploration on this sort of epic scale again. There is certainly nothing wrong with exploring strands of DNA or hunting for undersea treasure, but such efforts will always be largely technological. The baldly heroic exploits described here may be of another age, and may come to us now with distasteful colonial and racial baggage, but Stanley and Livingstone could hardly help that. The world was in a frenzy to read news of the famous explorer and his rescuer, and re-living events by means of _Into Africa_ will let readers experience the same thrills.

  • TrafficWarden
    11:24 on September 1st, 2011
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    This is a thoroughly interesting book. I found it totally absorbing.
    It is well written and well researched. The author takes the time to provide the necessary background of each of the participants on the expedition so that readers can judge for themselves their actions under duress.
    She also takes the time to explain in detail the ecology of the rain forest. Also interesting are details on the culture of the native Indians in this remote jungle who never allowed themselves to be seen until the 1960′s. I look forward to later work by Constance Millard.

  • John Baxter
    14:18 on September 1st, 2011
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    River of Doubt gets off to a bit of a slow start, but that is mostly due to the background necessary to provide context for an expedition that is incomprehensible to modern readers. Imagine a former U.S. president of recent vintage doing anything remotely as adventurous as charting an unexplored river. It quite simply would not happen – or if it did, it would be covered wire-to-wire by CNN and under Secret Service protection. This would be a wonderful story even if Roosevelt were a run-of-the-mill explorer. Of course, he was not – and that is what makes the novel work.

    Roosevelt was a brash man who took incredible chances and miraculously survived – but you can’t say, after reading this book, that he was a good explorer. In fact, other than the fact that he and some of the members of his expedition survived and (more or less) accomplished what they set out to do, the expedition was a disaster.

    I came away reminded that people – even great ones – have to know their limits. A great career in one walk of life can be eliminated or overshadowed by an ill-advised adventure in another. On the other hand, I think Teddy would have been perfectly happy to have died in the course of his endeavor – it seems as though he even may have been planning on it all along. And of course, this type of adventure was exactly the sort which contributed to the legend that Roosevelt must have known he was building.

    There is probably something in this book for just about anyone. If you simply like adventure, the second half of the book is very hard to put down. If you are looking for something deeper – maybe an understanding of what drives some people to push the limits of human endurance – this book will give you some further food for thought, but not a lot in the way of answers. But then again, who really cares about those types of answers and what fun would it be to actually have them?

  • nedendir
    15:44 on September 1st, 2011
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    After reading many books on TR, this was a book that I had to get. While reading both Morris books on TR this seemed to be a great add on to my study of the former President. This is a really good book. The author, a former writer for National Geographic does a good job of keeping this book on the entertaining side.

    The story is really amazing, to the point where you might ask yourself – what was TR thinking going on such a trip – was he tired of life and ready to be done with it? One small critique of the work is the fact that the author maybe spends a bit to much time talking about the ecology of the Amazon where it almost feels like filler. But, the context is needed, but maybe not so much.

    This is a good book. Pick it up for a road trip and sit back for a wild adventure.

    JVD

  • Satish KC
    20:25 on September 1st, 2011
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    Being too cautious (and low on funds) as a lad to go on safaris, climb high mountains, or sail the seas and now too old to try my hand at real life adventure, I’ve had to satisfy my love of adventure through great books. From the safety of my recliner I have scaled Everest, sailed to exotic islands and distant lands, searched for the Northwest Passage and explored Antarctica.
    Mr Dugard’s book “Into Africa” was my first African adventure, and oh what a joy it was! He captures the period of exploration, the spirit and grit of Stanley and Livingstone, the various native cultures, and the awesome landscape of an incredible land with such vivid detail! I was there! I was able to walk with these men without fear of tsetse flies (sleeping sickness) or mosquitoes (malaria). I did not have to watch for deadly Mamba snakes, or large critters that could consider me their lunch. No fear of being run in by a spear by some native for trespassing. No grueling long walks in 115 degree heat. Yet I was able to experience all of that and more. Of all my adventure books, this one will stand out as one of the best. You know they are great books when you find yourself in dread of reading the last page. “Into Africa was my first book by Martin Dugard. Years from now I will read it again. I now anxiously await delivery of Dugard’s book titled: “Farther Than Any Man” – I set sail with Captain James Cook the moment the book arrives! Enjoy your adventures wherever they lead you!!

  • PaulTheZombie
    21:34 on September 1st, 2011
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    This was a great read. Ultimately, I enjoyed the Lost City of Z more but this was great. It was descriptive, focusing on the good qualities of Stanley and Livingstone, while not ignoring the bad. It was important when exploring their flaws the author did not forget the time-period, praising for the most part, instead of being overtly judgmental.

    Stanley and Livingstone were amazing men, with the flaws of their time, but amazing nonetheless. If you like early 19th century explorers, then you will like this book.

  • Ripel
    23:26 on September 1st, 2011
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    This book tells the intertwined tales of David Livingstone and Henry Morton Stanley. Dugard (the author) puts together a very well written story, giving the reader context to be excited when the culminating moment of “Dr Livingstone, I presume?” comes about.

    The book provides a begginer on African exploration (such as myself) with a very good understanding of the context in Africa and England, as the Victorian era of exploration is at its best. Characters such as Murchison, Burton and Speke are described in detail as to their accomplishments. The reader also gets a good understanding of the discussion behind the source of the Nile and the difficulties involved in determining it.

    The personal lives of Livingstone and Stanley are an integral part of the story. The tale how Stanley rose through newspaper ranks in NY and provided scoops on different European wars ahead of european reporters. His dubious character is portrayed in his experiences in Turkey, where he became a robber and was close to losing his life.

    This is a rather short book — 300 pages — which can be read in a few sittings. If you are interested in exploration or would just like to know what these historical characters were up to, this is a very good book. It may drive the reader to the point of such curiosity that you may find yourself picking up a few of the books authored by the characters themselves (of which there are many).

  • TrafficWarden
    23:51 on September 1st, 2011
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    Actually, my rating of this book speaks more to the subject matter than the author’s writing ability. Being historically based, the novel is as dark as the truth. I always thought that Dr Livingston was a medical missionary and that Stanley went to find him to join his work. Turns out the truth is racist, cruel, mean, self-indulgent, and self-promoting. I did not enjoy the book for those very reasons. However, I do believe that Martin Dugard did an excellent job of research, and produced a well written account of the life and time of these men. It seems to be a true representation of their dark, cruel adventures/fate. As much as I disliked the dark truth on which the book is based, I was up late at night reading – enthralled by the story.

  • John Baxter
    2:46 on September 2nd, 2011
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    This is a terrific history. It is much more than a biographical sketch of Teddy Roosevelt. It is a snapshot of 1914, a portrait of the Amazon rain forest, a primer on the flora and fauna of that rain forest, a look at the natives of the area and yet still more.

    Ms Millard takes the reader into the jungle with Roosevelt’s expedition down a river that had never been explored nor mapped. It was called the River of Doubt and thereafter the Roosevelt River. She follows the entire expeditionary force, including Roosevelt’s son, Kermit, Rondon (a Brazilian explorer and hero), an American naturalist and Rondon’s right hand man. All kept contemporaneous accounts which the author used well. Quotes from the diaries were used sparingly so they added to the flow of the book rather than interrupted it.

    As the group traverses the river, encountering rapids, falls, and the myriad of natural dangers, Ms Millard continues to inform on a wide breadth of subjects without making the information cumbersome. As Roosevelt would have liked, the book is less about him than the expedition and the newly explored river and jungle. Using the accounts, she is able to explain to the reader the motivations that made each man go on this hugely dangerous mission. These insights add even more to the book.

    This is non-fiction at its finest. Its core, I suppose, is biography, but it is a fast-moving account of an expedition that almost killed everyone on it. In its telling, the author branches out into many other areas to give the reader a true understanding of what the intrepid explorers were going through and experiencing.

    This book is highly recommended for more than just history buffs.

  • nedendir
    4:12 on September 2nd, 2011
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    “Doctor Livingstone I presume?” is undoubtedly one of the most well known quotes in history. Very few people, however, are familiar with the history underlying the meeting of Dr. David Livingstone and Henry Morton Stanley.

    This book details the lives of the two men and the historical background through which they were thrown together. Livingstone, one of the foremost explorers of his day is searching for the source of the Nile River. Through a combination of bad luck, poor planning, disease, weather, natives, etc., Livingstone is virtually stranded on the banks of Lake Tangyanika.

    Henry Stanley, a newspaper correspondent undertakes a rescue mission at the direction of his publicity hungry publisher. This book details that mission and the international setting under which it took place. The perils of African exploration in the late 19th century cannot be overstated. This book does an excellent job impressing this upon the reader.

    I found this book very similar in style and experience to Undaunted Courage (which detailed the Voyage of Discovery undertaken by Lewis and Clark) and River of Doubt (dealing with Theodore Roosevelt’s exploration of the Amazon basin. If you enjoyed either of these books, you will like this one as well. If you read this book and enjoy it, I highly recommend the other two.

  • Satish KC
    8:52 on September 2nd, 2011
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    This is an exciting though flawed historical adventure yarn. The story of Teddy Roosevelt’s journey down an unexplored and darkly dangerous branch of the Amazon makes for easy and fascinating reading. The entire voyage as well as the extraordinary individuals who accompany him, both American and Brazilian, deserve to be better known. Unfortunately, the story is told with awkward fictionalized and romanticized touches and irrelevant literary excursions. The author often travels beyond the reality of her documented sources, imagining what people were feeling and thinking. Everyone on this hazardous trip was a male and one cannot help but wish that the author were a male as well. Candice Millard brings a disconcertingly feminine perspective to what was a very masculine event.

  • PaulTheZombie
    10:01 on September 2nd, 2011
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    Although I’m something of a history buff, I had never heard of Roosevelt’s journey down the River of Doubt. Candice Millard does a great job of describing the harrowing trip through uncharted areas of the Amazon rain forest. Although Roosevelt’s journey was much shorter than Lewis and Clark’s, the story reminded me a lot of Stephen Ambrose’s “Undaunted Courage,” which is high praise for Ms. Millard. Ms. Millard’s writing is certainly up to the drama of the trip.

    The expedition’s difficulties were almost beyond belief, and even after finishing the book, it was difficult to imagine how Roosevelt or anyone else survived the ordeal. No wonder that some critics were initially skeptical of the expedition’s success.

    The expedition included a number of colorful characters, and Theodore Roosevelt is clearly the celebrity of the group, but other characters, including Roosevelt’s son Kermit and the Brazilian frontiersman Candido Rondon, are portrayed vividly as real people, not just bit players in Roosevelt’s great adventure. One of the most fascinating elements of the book is the interplay between the characters as the extreme hardships of the journey brought out the strengths and weaknesses of the participants.

    Besides being a really superb chronicle of the journey, the book is full of fascinating information about rain forest dynamics, which explained why the expedition had so little success in finding food along the way. After reading River of Doubt, I have no desire to go wandering around in the Brazilian jungles!

    A really good, well written adventure story that I recommend to anyone.

  • Ripel
    11:54 on September 2nd, 2011
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    It’s a breezy read, aimed at the general public at mid high school level writing. The author is a newspaper man, and one of the main characters- Stanley is likewise a newspaper man’s newspaper man. The book reminds me of the kind i’d love to find as a high school student: fun, interesting, provocative- something to write a review about for extra credit.

    Two form items deserve comment. First the chapters alternate: first Livingstone, then Stanley, nice and effective technique. Second, each chapter has a small sidebar where the distance between the two men is calculated. A neat way of doing it, builds the suspense, and makes the movement of the men towards each other all the more interesting.

    One deeper thought that the book provoked was the humanness of history. The fact that it is made by men (yes, and women, men is generic here) who choose each day to do something, to challenge themselves. This book bears out this idea to the max, the people involved are human, sometimes heroes, often not. But both of the main characters are portrayed as human, and yet just a little superhuman, this class of people who just do above and beyond the call of duty. This is significant, and it makes the book worth the time to read. i publicly thank the person who recommended it to me for it is off my usual track. Plus i really need to practice my speedreading on something, and heavy science is not the right place, this book was.

    So if you like history a little bit, dont want to be bogged down in heavy big-word writing, like reading newspaper accounts or journalistic writing, then this is a good book for you.

    thanks for reading this review.

  • Markoc
    14:21 on September 2nd, 2011
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    I thought this book was pretty much a big let down. I wish I had read roosevelts account of the adventure instead.
    save your money check out at the library…

  • John Baxter
    17:16 on September 2nd, 2011
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    After narrowly losing the 1912 Presidential election to Woodrow Wilson (how history might have been different if Roosevelt, who despised Racism and was Pro-British, had beaten the Racist Wilson), Theodore Roosevelt decided to embark on a long journey into an unknown tributary of the Amazon River – The River of Doubt, hence the title of this book. Roosevelt was confident, cocksure, – after all this was a man who advocated “the strenuous life”, had built himself up in the Badlands of the American West and had explored the deepest, remote regions of Africa. After all, a river in Brazil couldn’t be much different, right?

    Well, unfortunately for Roosevelt, wrong. The jungles were full of poisonous snakes, of Anacondas, of malaria-ridden mosquitoes, and other parasites, and his expedition had not prepared adequately for the task of exploring this dangerous region. In short, most of the expedition became ill quite fast, and even the former President, stricken with dysentery and a festering leg wound, urged the expedition and his son, Kermit, who was with him, to go on and let him die along the banks of the river. Indeed, Roosevelt was ready to take his own life, but Kermit Roosevelt, ironically not as fit as his brothers Archie, Quentin, or Theodore Jr. – who weren’t on this dangerous voyage – refused to let his father die an inglorious death, and managed to bring him out of the jungle.

    Yes, they survived, but the experience completely shattered what was left of the Old Lion’s health – after all, he had been shot in the chest only two years before in the Bull Moose campaign against Wilson, and had gone blind in one eye. Susceptible to infection that weakened his heart, Roosevelt died but five years later, at a relatively young 60. In many ways, this is as much the story of Kermit Roosevelt, who accompanied his father to toughen himself. The experience proved to be the opposite, as he never recovered from his father’s death, and would plunge into alcoholism, infidelity, and finally suicide.

    The author, a National Geographic well-traveled veteran has written a fairly detailed, incredible book about the preserverance of T.R. and of the region, aptly named the River of Doubt, that he explored.

    The reader might also consider “The Lion’s Pride” by Edward J. Renehan. While the passage on the ill-fated journey is short, there’s much about the Old Lion’s relationship with Kermit, and Kermit’s subsequent, unhappy life in it.

  • nedendir
    18:42 on September 2nd, 2011
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    Martin Dugard treks the perilous landscape of East Africa through the eyes of Henry Stanley and David Livingstone. His nonfiction account unfolds with the crispness of a fine novel. The reader marvels at the courage and resolve of its protagonists, who survived countless assaults of malaria, snakes, spiders, ants, cannibals, rain, and heat in the pursuit of fame and truth. “Into Africa” is fascinating not just for the raw and brutal tale it tells, but also for the way it probes the psychology of a determined journalist and a legendary adventurer. This book is a great read for those who enjoy adventure stories. For those who have journeyed through Kenya and Tanzania, it evokes newfound appreciation for the struggles and triumphs of past explorers who blazed the trails and mapped the unknown.

  • Satish KC
    23:22 on September 2nd, 2011
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    Although to phrase this way will make me sound like a reviewer for People magazine, I’m finding this book compulsively readable. The writing is technically sound and the story moves along swiftly. A good read. Was a little surprised by the one-star review on this site from “Kurtam.” Although I disagree with him I’m thankful he made me aware of the New Yorker article/review by Adam Hochschild back in June 2003. As “Kurtam” mentions, it too is a good read.

  • PaulTheZombie
    0:31 on September 3rd, 2011
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    “The river of doubt” is a great book. Millard did a careful research and wrote the story in a very passionate way; she takes the reader to know the personality of each character in the book. Although she does not pretend to have a critical view of the evenements she conducts the story in such a way that makes it easy for the reader to have his/her own conclusions about the adventure, understanding the lack of preparation and knowledge of the American leader – Theodore Roosevelt – to explore the Amazonia, what had severe consequences for himself and for the ones who were determined to protect him.
    I was particularly interested in this story because in his journey through Brazil, more specifically in the country side of Rio de Janeiro, I heard that Roosevelt was a guest on my grandfather’s farm. I do not know if that part of the story was really true, but it stays as a nice family tale.

  • Ripel
    2:24 on September 3rd, 2011
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    I found this book to be a disappopintment. This isn’t because it is poorly written or researched. However the story is very limited in scope and there isn’t much in the way of background to fill up the space. When the journey down the river ends the book likewise ends, and rather abruptly at that. The book does have some interesting information about Teddy’s son Kermit and the Brazilian leader of the expedition. Not enough though to recommend this book. There are many many great books about Teddy Roosevelt that should be read before this one. There are also many many nonfiction books about explorations or “adventure” tales which are likewise superior to this book.

  • TrafficWarden
    2:49 on September 3rd, 2011
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    Pieced together like a fine quilt, alternating chapters between
    the key characters, setting forth a great chronology of events between the two explorers, Livingston and Stanley, their true life adventure jumps right out of these pages making it one of the best adventure stories written, and its all true besides. I picked this book up to read while recovering from knee surgery and hated to see it end. There is no doubt this was well researched. The writing style is superb. Buy it, you’ll love it and it will become a permanent part of your library.

  • John Baxter
    5:43 on September 3rd, 2011
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    I enjoyed this book of adventure & discovery in the Amazon basin. The events in this story take place less than 100 years ago but what a different world it was then. This story takes place within a year or two of the first people reaching the North & South poles – this is a time of great discovery around the world. Theodore Roosevelt takes one last daring journey in a life that was full of adventure (or in his own words he “had lived the life of 10 men…” ) The journey takes him & his companions on a several month journey down an uncharted river.

    Candice Millard does a good job mixing the telling of the story with the background of world events at the time & some interesting details about the people, plants & animals of the Amazon basin. It is amazing how much our world has changed since the events in this story took place. I would recommend this book as a good historical adventure story.

  • nedendir
    7:09 on September 3rd, 2011
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    I shall be brief; for it is better to spend any free time that you might have reading or listening to this extraordinary book. It actually is three books in one. It offers every bit the insight as the historical writings of Ambrose, MuCullough or Ellis. It involves you every bit as much as the adventurous writings of Krakauer and certainly offers every bit of the fascination of the natural history narratives of Burroughs. I would suggest you listen and read along with this story. While at home you will not be able to put it down, so be advised to listen during your commutes. Almost as interesting as the story is the author herself and how she came to find the story. Near the end of her writing project, she herself had to draw upon the insipration of the expedition. But that is a story you will need to find on your own if you so choose. The bottom line is that this a superb book on so many levels, and destined to become a classic and, hopefully, a film. If you enjoy presidential history, natural history and adventure there is absolutely no reason you will not fall in love with this book as I did. I suspect as well, you will be reading passages aloud to your friends and family…sometimes to their dismay of the subject matter, perhaps. Also, one note of warning: it may bring a tear or two to your eyes as it winds down. I give it my highest recommendation.

  • Satish KC
    11:50 on September 3rd, 2011
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    Here’s what I knew (or thought I knew) before I read this book: David Livingstone was a missionary who, after many years of trying, converted almost no Africans to Christianity. He got sidetracked into trying his luck at exploration….and didn’t have much luck. He mainly wandered around, not accomplishing much. Henry Morton Stanley went looking for Livingstone as a newspaper “publicity stunt.” He had a lot of money behind him and found Livingstone without too much trouble. Later on in life he went back to Africa and debased himself by working for the notorious King Leopold of Belgium, helping to set up the infamous slave-labor colony in the Congo. He was, even before he went to the Congo, a cruel racist. Although maybe I shouldn’t admit to my ignorance, that’s pretty much what I “knew.” Some of the above turned out to be true, some of it didn’t, as I discovered after reading this book. It is true Livingstone didn’t have much luck with conversions, even though he spent a good portion of the last 30 years of his life in Africa. He was, however, a better explorer than I realized. He was the first white man to walk across Africa, doing so from east to west. From 1841-1851 he explored the deserts, rivers and lakes of Southern Africa. From 1858-1863 he explored the Zambezi river and the area to the north of the river. It is true that he didn’t accomplish 2 of the main goals he had set for himself. He hoped, by his explorations, to open up the African interior to economic development which would eliminate the slave trade. This didn’t happen during his lifetime. He even compromised his principles and accepted food and hospitality from Arab slave traders as his second goal became his primary goal, and even an obsession- to find the source of the Nile. He was about 600 miles too far to the south, and never found what he was looking for. Indeed, after being found by Stanley, Livingstone remained in Africa and died in pursuit of his obsession. Despite these failures, Livingstone did map quite a bit of Africa and measured the height of, and gave the English name to, Victoria Falls. Stanley, while undoubtedly a racist- he beat his porters for little or no reason- did not have an easy time finding Livingstone. As Mr. Dugard makes clear, Stanley relentlessly made his way through jungles, swamps and savannah, having to deal with crocodiles, lions, hyenas, and tsetse flies along the way. He survived bouts of malaria and dysentery, encounters with cannibals, an attempted rebellion by his men, and porters running off with essential supplies. He also wound up in the middle of a war between Arab slave traders and various African tribes. He was genuinely fond of Livingstone and didn’t just stick around to say, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” He spent five months with Livingstone, bringing essential supplies so that Livingstone could go on with his explorations. Stanley later, in 1874, returned to Africa and circumnavigated both Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika and followed the Congo River all the way to the Atlantic. These were remarkable achievements. Do they absolve Stanley of the sin of helping to establish Leopold’s nightmarish Belgian Congo? No they don’t….but they were still remarkable achievements. This book works very well as an adventure story, but it is more than that. The author didn’t just look at the books that Stanley and Livingstone wrote for public view. He also looked at the journals of the two men. Thus, we are privy to their most inner thoughts and disappointments. Livingstone was guilty about not having spent more time at home in England with his wife and children. (His wife was so lonely she came to Africa to join him in 1861. She died from malaria in 1862.) He also, however, despite his reputation as a “pure of heart” missionary, was very sexually active with African women. He himself estimated that he had enjoyed the favors of 300 natives. Stanley was the result of a liaison between his prostitute mother and one of her customers. He was dumped in a workhouse by uncaring relatives and was sexually abused by his fellow inmates. His journals, unsurprisingly, show a man wracked by insecurity and depression, warding off thoughts of suicide by keeping himself constantly busy. Mr. Dugard speculates that part of the appeal for Stanley in finding Livingstone (and his affection for Livingstone once they met) was his desperate need for a father figure. (Livingstone was about 30 years older than Stanley.) Considering Stanley’s upbringing, this speculation does not seem far-fetched. One problem this otherwise fine book does have is that is suffers from a lack of maps. The only map in the book is printed on the inside cover. It is ok but not really detailed, and it is awkward to get to. As most of the chapters get into a lot of detail regarding where Stanley and Livingstone are at any particular moment, it would have been much better to have more maps scattered throughout the book. In any event, after reading this excellent combination of adventure tale/ dual biography, I feel a little less ignorant than before. Not a bad thing!

  • PaulTheZombie
    12:58 on September 3rd, 2011
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    Candice Millard entralled this reader with her narrative of the first known expedition down the River of Doubt, now called the Rio Teo Roosevelt, in western Brazil. Partly as a way of recovery from his painful defeat in the 1912 presidential election, and partly as bravura trek in a remote corner of the world, the author deftly interweaves natural history–wait until you read about the incredible flora and fauna in this other-worldly jungle–and the tale of ordinary and extraordinary men, especially Colonel Candido Rondon, the expedition’s Brazilian co-commander (with TR). (Rondon’s story could be a book by itself.) To be considered by anyone who loves stories of perserverance, natural history, and simply good writing. I look forward to the writer’s next story.

  • Ripel
    14:51 on September 3rd, 2011
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    Everyone knows the famous line – “Dr. Livingstone I presume”. This is the story leading up to the famous meeting and after.

    Mr. Dugard does a wonderful job relating the biographies of the main characters – Stanley and Livingstone – as well as tangential men who were integral to this saga. He also places the characters well into the historical context of the times. He captures well not only the facts but he captures the characters including their foibles and weaknesses.

    The best part of this book was getting to know the men involved – thankfully they were all prolific writers themselves. I found some of the recounting of both Livingstone’s and Stanley’s travels a bit tedious, which is why this is a four star rather than a five. Also the mapping might have been better.

    All in all, a very good biography of two interesting men of the nineteenth century.

  • TrafficWarden
    15:16 on September 3rd, 2011
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    I loved this book. This book was great in so many ways. It is a great portrait of Teddy Roosevelt in his quest to explore an uncharted tributary of the Amazon after his presidency. It is a fascinating look at life in the unexplored rain forest – featuring the people, plants, animals and general ecology. It’s a riveting life-or-death adventure. The author does a great job moving between the people in the present drama, their backgrounds, and the “life of the forest.” It’s a beautifully written page-turner. It leaves one with a profound sense of the place, people and time. I can’t recommend this book more highly. Years ago, I read Undaunted Courage, the story of Lewis and Clark’s expedition. I liked it, but that never grabbed me like River of Doubt did. This sets a new standard for “exploration history” literature. Read it!

  • John Baxter
    18:10 on September 3rd, 2011
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    An intriguing tale of doubt and the unknown, the River of Doubt is aptly named both for the questions surrounding is existence and the outcome of the journey that would lead all of its participants to or near death.

    Millard works above the usual and routine dead pool of stagnant translation, this book is alive! This is one of those stories that plays itself out on the “big screen” of your mind. The vivid descriptions that fill the book work to bring the story to life.

    The milky water flows beneath you. The roar of a consuming water fall speaks danger. A spindly shaft that guarantees death. The overpowering and completely unexpected silence of the living jungle consumes all with fear. All of these may be experienced in the scope of the few hours it takes to read this tale. For this alone, read and enjoy!

  • nedendir
    19:36 on September 3rd, 2011
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    A good story, though not extraordinarilly well written. It does serve well enough as a casual introduction to the story of Stanley and Livingstone.

  • Satish KC
    0:17 on September 4th, 2011
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    Like many, I already knew the basic story of Stanley’s search for Livingstone but this book fleshed out the details of the men and their plights very well. The chapters alternate between Livingstone, Stanley, and the goings on of the RGS (Royal Geographical Society) in London. The Stanley-based chapters counted down the miles separating Stanley and Livingstone which served to build up suspense and I felt myself getting more excited as I closed in on the missionary/explorer myself. Into Africa contrasts the personalities of the two men in accomplishing their goals and as each face the many hardships of African exploration. I was amazed to see the trials these men and some of their porters survived including malaria, smallpox, elephantiasis, war, and the wild beasts of African fame. Dugard’s telling leads us through swamps, jungles, grasslands, and mountains across some of the roughest terrains in the world. Temperatures reach the 120s Fahrenheit but our heroes continue their quests. We get to see how the trials devastate the mens’ bodies and sometimes feverish minds. The research using the mens’ own journals and RGS records is well done, easily readable, and excitingly doled out. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a true story of exploration and adventure especially because this book contains two of the best. I may have given this volume 5 stars if it had included some useful maps and if the pictures (especially the captions) were a little more viewable on the Kindle edition.

  • PaulTheZombie
    1:26 on September 4th, 2011
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    Having extensively read about these two accomplished and highly recognized explorers and having traveled the area where Stanley set out to search for Livingstone, I was both excited and anxious to read Mr. Dugard’s book. My expectations were high as I opened the first page. To say the least, Mr. Dugard’s excellent narrative, thorough research and personal exploration into the minds of the two heroes truly surpassed my hopes for an interesting and enlightening journey into this well known story. Into Africa is not only a combination of adventure and biography, but Mr. Dugard adds interesting insight into the soul of Stanely and Livingstone. Mr. Dugard’s writing is rich and flows with compelling descriptions and details. The read is both educational and very entertaining. Although the subject is historical, the book is not the least bit dry and technical, such as Ambroses’ Undaunted Courage. Mr. Dugard’s style of writing wisks the reader through the personal lives and adventures of not only Stanley and Livingstone, but many of the important secondary characters who had a great affect on Stanley and Livingstone’s successes, (ie Kirk, Murchison, Bennett, etc.). The key element that makes this book a great read is Mr. Dugard’s relentess and extensive research. His use of Stanley and Livingstones personal journals, letters, obscure newspaper articles, letters and diary entries of Stanley and Livingstone’s associates and his own personal reflections and observations helps provide the reader with an accurate and precise account of what truly led to the utterance of that immortal phrase…”Dr. Livingtsone, I presume.”

  • Ripel
    3:19 on September 4th, 2011
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    I really liked this book. It is a harrowing journey, unbelievable in it’s chaotic (and not well done) preparation. It reads quickly especially when they begin descending the river. It’s hard to believe they survived at all. I learned so much about the flora and fauna of the Amazon as well as the people experiencing this expedition This is definitely a thriller and very well written. It also has an excellent index.

  • TrafficWarden
    3:43 on September 4th, 2011
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    This is an interesting and easy read. The narrative, however, jumps around, as noted by other reviewers, which makes it somewhat choppy reading.

    I had no idea how difficult and dangerous Stanley’s exploration was. Stanley himself almost died a couple of times from malaria. His only two white companions died. And it is clear that a large part of native in his caravan died although the author doesn’t try to estimate the number.

    Another surprising aspect of Stanley was his cruelty. He would beat the natives with a whip if they were too tired or sick to proceed. If all else failed, he would abandon them on the trail to their fate. It’s amazing that no one in his caravan murdered him. In this regard, the author tries a little vest pocket psychoanalysis to justify Stanley. The author thinks that Stanley learned his attitude towards natives from General Philip Sheridan while covering the Indian wars in 1867. Sorry, that a terrible stretch. Sheridan fought and killed Indians, but he didn’t beat them to death when they were sick.

    Africa was a place of widespread warfare and killings, mostly due to the slave trade, when Stanley was there. Unfortunately, Stanley contributed to the mayhem.

  • John Baxter
    6:38 on September 4th, 2011
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    Good book about early British and American exploration of Africa and the search for Livingstone. Not as exciting as some of the Ambrose books like Undaunted Courage but still educational and interesting.

  • nedendir
    8:04 on September 4th, 2011
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    While this book does fill in what was perhaps Roosevelt’s greatest adventure, it treats the subject more like a National Geographic special than it does a historical review of events that led to this “voyage of discovery.” Millard focuses almost exclusively on the journey itself, filling in gaps in her narrative with what amount to little more than character sketches. We are introduced to Roosevelt prostrate in a make-shift tent aboard a dug-out canoe, like a lead into a movie, and then Millard briskly charts the journey that nearly led him to his death. The only problem is that this isn’t much of a cliffhanger. We all know that Roosevelt survived to tell the tale in “Through the Brazilian Wilderness.”

    There are no probing questions asked like, why would a member of the Brazilian government even suggest such a trip to Roosevelt knowing the dangers involved? And, why would Colonel Rondon, having spent 25 years in the Amazon basin, not have been appalled by what the Americans expected to take down the river with them? And, why would Rondon even embark on such a journey during the rainy season when there would have been even more difficulties associated with such an expedition with relative novices in tow?

    Millard presents this voyage as if it took on a life of its own, which it may very well had, with this expedition crew stumbling along an uncharted river throwing pretty much all caution to the wind. Millard uses a number of melodramatic devices to propel the action, such as Kermit Roosevelt’s overwhelming yearning to get back to his beloved Belle, which Millard uses as an explanation for his seeming recklessness on this voyage. Theodore Roosevelt himself is presented more as a stereotype than the complex man that he was, driven as much by adventure as scientific knowledge. She gives the reader a lot of information about Colonel Rondon, the only one with any real experience for such a voyage, but we don’t really get to know him.

    Millard hits all the right emotional buttons but fails to deliver a compelling story. Roosevelt remains larger than life in her mind, brought down by an inflamed leg that gets badly infected on the last part of the journey. We are given all the standard Rooseveltian character traits, but none that flesh him out further. This was indeed an incredible undertaking which led to the mapping of the River of Doubt, hence forward known as the Rio Teodoro, but it is still waiting for an experienced historian to flesh out the motivations and the persons that led to such a massive undertaking.

  • Satish KC
    12:44 on September 4th, 2011
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    Anyone who enjoyed Stephen Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage or any other tale of exploration and hardship will love River of Doubt. Candice Millard’s new book chronicles the expedition of Theodore Roosevelt and his Brazilian co-commander, Candido Mariano da Silva Rondon, down one of Amazon’s last unexplored tributaries in 1914-the River of Doubt. The 400-mile river trip tested every ounce of the ex-president’s intellect, courage, and physical stamina. Millard’s book, therefore, is more a tale of survival than adventure.

    Roosevelt and his American companions were woefully unprepared for their journey. They brought boats too large to be of use on a shallow river, and had to rely instead on Indian-made dugouts-canoes designed more for local transportation on flat water than long-distanced descents through rapids. The American and Brazilain members of the group often had to portage these heavy, waterlogged boats around rapids, which cost the group both time and precious food supplies.

    Food proved to be one of the most vexing problems of the journey. Much of the canned food shipped from the United States was too heavy to be carried to the expedition’s launching point in the Brazilian highlands, and had to be discarded. Instead, Roosevelt hoped to augment his increasingly meager rations with game shot along the way. Unfortunately, the rain forest did not offer much bounty and the group ended up eating monkeys and piranhas to survive-creatures far more difficult to kill than deer and antelope.

    If that were not enough, disease plagued the expedition at every corner. Kermit, the son of President Roosevelt, fought malaria for most of the trip and Theodore almost died when he contracted a deadly bacterial infection from a small flesh wound. Author Candice Millard does an excellent job of describing the numerous hazards confronted by the group without getting too bogged down in rain forest ecology. The book’s moderate length and circumscribed subject matter make it much easier to plow through than a typical biography. With that being said, some historians may be disappointed that the book does not shed much more light on Roosevelt’s political philosophies or his quest to preserve public land. Was Roosevelt an early environmentalist or simply an avid hunter and adventurer? This book does not answer that question.

    It does, however, show us a side of Theodore Roosevelt’s character often lacking in traditional biographies of the man: his humanity. The author describes how the ex-president shared in the work, dangers, and hardships of the journey. In one scene, she shows Roosevelt washing the clothes of his companions and in another, the sick ex-president giving away his rations to one of the expedition’s “more productive” Brazilian laborers. In short, readers will walk away from this book with new-found appreciation for President Roosevelt and his undaunted courage-something often lacking in today’s breed of politicians.

  • PaulTheZombie
    13:53 on September 4th, 2011
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    I read Candice Millard’s “River of Doubt” after reading TDR’s own account of the trip and it was interesting to contrast the two perspective’s on the same adventure down the uncharted Amazon tributary. While Miller’s emphasis was on the perils and dangers of the trip with many descriptions of disease, venomous snakes, dangerous Indians and the risk of starvation, TDR’s account seldom mentions the hazards. His emphasis was on the discoveries, the beauty of evolution, the collection of specimens, and the furthering of scientific knowledge. Miller relegates the importance of the discoveries to a minor role and chooses to highlight fears and risks that the traveling group were either unconcerned with or even not aware of. What Miller would describe as perilours and risky activities was clearly considered to be the matter of fact realities of traveling through an unknown jungle by TDR and Colonel Rondon. It’s a sad statement of our current culture of fear that a book must emphasis the dangers of adventure rather than the accomplishments that come from ignoring risks for the purpose of a higher goal.

  • pop frame
    16:44 on September 4th, 2011
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    Into Africa follows Henry Stanley’s quest to find Dr. Livingstone in the heart of Africa. For the layman reader who doesn’t know much about this event except for the famous greeting, it’s a good overview of the unlikely journey that brought Stanley from an impoverished background, to a life as a newspaper reporter, then to a great explorer in his own right. The hardships endured are much as one would expect on such a journey, as well as some of the conceits of the newcomer to Africa. Stanley showed that he could learn from his mistakes, as he pressed forward with relentless purpose.

    The author alternates between Stanley’s travels and those of Livingstone, who was near destitution at many times. He tries to get into the minds of both men, especially what motivated them to endure such hardships, besides glory and fame (on Stanley’s part especially). It’s also a clash of two cultures; the Victorian Livingstone and the reporter from an America expanding its power after the Civil War. The reality of the Arab slave trade is a major factor in this story, both Stanley and Livingstone had to deal with the presence of it. Overall it’s worth reading, the accomplishments of both men were substantial.

  • TrafficWarden
    17:08 on September 4th, 2011
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    ‘River of Doubt’ is the story of Theodore Roosevelt’s ill-fated expedition throught the Amazon rain forest along the River of Doubt (later named after Roosevelt). The book opens with TR losing a bid for a third term as the president of the United States. After the lose, Millard paints a Roosevelt who is looking for a new adventure. Something new to conquer.

    What starts as a trip to South America and exploring a known river, turns into a trip down an uncharted river with no idea where it will lead or end up. The trip is doomed from the start when the planners and suppliers of the trip know very little about the Amazon and what will be required to complete such a journey. Improper and insufficient supplies, force Roosevelt and his companions to ration food from the start.

    Millard’s first book is well done and very engaging. I found the set up and prelude to the trip very interesting. Providing enough background about Roosevelt to explain how this big of a challenge was taken on. A majority of the book follows the explorers overland and focuses on the first half of the river journey, which is filled with unrelenting downpours, impassible rapids and waterfalls, native tribes, and blood thristy insects.

    The book wraps up the final third of the trip rather quickly, but I still found the story fascinating.

  • John Baxter
    20:03 on September 4th, 2011
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    With an encompassing narrative, and detailed descriptions of people, circumstances, and places, “Into Africa” is a worthy read for simple entertainment. Learning about Livingstone and Stanley, was engrossing, and learning about their respective journeys through Africa was harrowing and at times defied belief. If ever anyone needed an example of pure determination and pursuit of a goal, and then accomplishment, this book delivers. Showing an emotional aspect, Mr. Dugard demonstrates that attaining a near impossible goal can also result in more intangible rewards, such as Stanley’s maturation through his ordeal in Africa to find Dr Livingstone. If you never think history can be exciting, read this book and you will be disabused of that notion. Warring tribes, hostile natives, opportunistic chieftans, Arab slavers, constant disease and inummerable parasites (non-human), all combine to form a formidable obstacle for these intrepid adventurers.

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