River of Doubt

by

Author: Candice Millard (Narrated by Paul Michael)

Title: The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 353 pages (10 audio discs)

Geographical Setting: Amazon River Basin

Time Period: 1912-1914

Plot Summary:   After a defeat in his run for a third Presidential term, Theodore Roosevelt decides to explore an uncharted river in the Amazon river basin with his son Kermit, and a cast of American participants, some who ultimately end up risking the success of the expedition.  The Brazilian government assigns an experienced explorer, Candido Rondon, to navigate and accompany the American group. This expedition faces a myriad of challenges from the Amazon rainforest itself, as well as indigenous Brazilian Indian tribes, lack of proper boats, food and medicine.  The narrator of the audio version does a good job of bringing the different characters to life, including the Spanish/Portugese accents and moving us through the details of this very complex story.

Subject Headings: Natural history; Presidents; Rain forests; Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919; Roosevelt-Rondon Scientific Expedition (1913-1914)

Appeal: adventurous, atmospheric, exotic, accessible, informative, engaging, suspenseful, graphic, vivid, moving, optimistic, academic, steady pacing

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: detailed setting, well-researched, compelling

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Lost City of Z by David Grann

This book chronicles the search for the lost adventurer Percy Fawcett, who disappeared on an expedition in the Amazon basin in search of the fabled Lost City of Z.  This is a richly detailed book that illustrates the dangers of the Amazon and is partially based on diaries, like the River of Doubt. This is also a New York Times Notable book like the River of Doubt.

When Trumpets Call by Patricia O’Toole.

This book chronicles the complete ten years after Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency, including his adventures on the River of Doubt and the African safari he went on with his son Kermit prior to his Amazon expedition. This book illustrates that Teddy Roosevelt does not recede in the background after his Presidential term is over and not only is an adventurer and a naturalist, but still remains active in political life.

Fordlania by Greg Grandin

The author, a NYU professor of Latin American History, tells the true yet unbelievable story of Henry Ford in his attempts to transform part of Brazil’s Amazon River basin into small-town America in order to produce rubber for car tires. Until now, the colossal failure of this project had not been well documented, and this Top 10 Business Book of 2009 shows what happens when a capitalist visionary ignores cultures, politics and nature.

 3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

This compelling, richly detailed and atmospheric novel set in the Amazon basin, and specifically near  Manaus ( the end of Roosevelt’s expedition), is character centered with interesting characters, similar pacing as the River of Doubt  and a sense of unease and danger lurking around every page.

The Seamstress by Frances de Pontes-Peebles

This work of historical fiction in 1920’s and 1930’s Brazil, follows two impoverished sisters, who share excellent sewing skills, into their adult lives with the backdrop of the populist revolt of 1930.  This sweeping novel describes the political instability that affected Brazil at this time, while the attention to detail provides a vivid sense of place and a good characterization of the sisters’ relationship.

The Blood of the Wicked by Leighton Gage

This debut novel follows a Brazilian Chief Inspector Mario Silva as he attempts to solve the murder of a bishop while navigating the politically charged local battle between wealthy Brazilian landowners and the landless poor. The author, who lived in Brazil for many years, builds a fascinating character in Mario Silva, vividly evokes a contemporary sense of Brazil’s social and political problems and sets the stage for two additional Mario Silva novels.

Name:Cheryl

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: