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  • Death on the River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Amazon Adventure by Samantha Seiple
  • Elizabeth Bush
Seiple, Samantha Death on the River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Amazon Adventure. Scholastic, 2017 [224p] illus. with photographs
ISBN 978-0-545-70916-3 $17.99
Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 4-7

Having lost his bid for the Presidency in the 1912 election, Theodore Roosevelt turned from politics to his other great passion—adventure. A trip to Brazil to visit his son Kermit took a welcome shift when he was invited to join an expedition under the leadership of explorer Cândido Mariano da Silva Rondon to map the uncharted River of Doubt in Brazil’s interior. Together with Kermit, naturalist George Cherrie, and a crew of camaradas to do the heavy lifting, Roosevelt and Rondon inched their way from the headwaters, plummeting down cataracts, demolishing canoes, losing supplies and instruments, suffering from injuries and disease, and giving the rough-riding past president another shot at displaying his indefatigability. Seiple opens with an edge-of-the-seat scenario from the expedition, then backtracks to a chapter of biographical context that is speedy and concise. Then it’s on to the thrill-a-minute narrative, much of which is culled from Roosevelt’s own memoirs and thus, one suspects, tinted to highlight his heroism. The adventurers’ club–styled humblebrag goes hand in hand with the title’s scant coverage of the Brazilian crew and indigenous peoples, with slight attention paid to their role keeping the expedition afloat (literally) and their attitudes toward the outrageously clad intruders. Still, true adventure fans will appreciate the action, and history buffs who thought Roosevelt’s “strenuous life” peaked at San Juan Hill will enjoy this glimpse of the post-White House years. Maps, a timeline, sources, an index, and black and white photographs are included. [End Page 282]



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