One of my pandemic projects has been to join a non-fiction book club. This is a bold step on my part as I tend to read to escape, and fiction has usually been my preference. This move has opened many new adventures for me and I will use this space to document my journey.
This month’s book is The River of Doubt by Candice Millard. The 2005 release is an historical account of the journey undertaken by Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States as he explored an enormous, unknown river in the Amazon region of Brazil. Extremely well written, the book reads like a novel. Millard is a former writer for National Geographic and her description of plant and animal life in the region is most detailed and descriptive. Her account of the personal relationships, while told in the third person, almost speaks of immediate firsthand knowledge, and that is extremely engaging.
Evidently Roosevelt always followed any sort of defeat with a physical challenge. When he lost his third bid for the White House, he decided to explore this region of South America. One of our nation’s most renowned adventurous spirits, Roosevelt’s journey was plagued with one disaster after another. Poor planning, haphazard execution, and a formidable challenge almost killed the man, but the determination, self-reliance, and combative spirit saved him in the end. While he did survive the challenge, he lost nearly 3/4 of his original body weight, and never fully recovered from the journey.
This was my vacation read, and historically accurate it was a lesson in perseverance and overcoming adversity through sheer will. I highly recommend it!