Legacy Book Recommendations: The River of Doubt

In a revealing portrait of the Roosevelt-Rondon Scientific Expedition of 1913-14, “The River of Doubt” by Candice Millard  illustrates a legacy in one of the world’s most captivating lands: the Amazon.

Chronicles the Roosevelt-Rondon Scientific Expedition of 1913-14, which placed on the map of South America a nearly thousand-mile-long tributary of the Amazon River.
Chronicles the Roosevelt-Rondon Scientific Expedition of 1913-14, which placed on the map of South America a nearly thousand-mile-long tributary of the Amazon River.

At the time, the Rio da Dúvida (River of Doubt), was an unmapped, “wild and capricious” tributary of the Amazon. With his son Kermit and Brazil’s famous explorer Candido Mariano da Silva Rondon, Roosevelt’s expedition set off and succeeded in putting this nearly thousand-mile-long stretch of water on the map of South America.

The story conveys the Amazon’s “electric green jungle” so well that it’s easy to picture the sun breaking through the clouds and “[turning] the forest to gold.” Even more, one really understands the enormity of the expedition’s triumph, especially after facing such hardships like losing canoes to rapids and battling bouts of malaria.

The legacy of the expedition is best illustrated when Theodore Roosevelt returned to the United States and presented the scale of the tributary to international geographic institutions. Now, the River of Doubt is known as the Rio Roosevelt and has forever changed the map of not only South America, but also of the Western Hemisphere.

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