December 10, 2007

Books Read 2007 (part 8)

Oh, man is this a crazy adventure. The former Republican President and scientific naturalist (imagine!), crushed by a political loss, decides to tour South America and further decides instead of a touristy "exploration" of the Amazon, to help the great Brazilian explorer General Rondon map an unknown tributary then known only as the River of Doubt. An absurdly dangerous proposition in the best of circumstances with the best equipment, men and planning. Roosevelt had none of these. None were prepared for the agonizing and, for some, ultimately deadly odyssey ahead. Millard captures the trip in amazing detail from the many letters and journals that have survived. She also includes plenty of natural history to put their misadventures in context. Sometimes the detail of the personal lives can get to be a little much (I didn't need to know that much about Roosevelt's son's engagement), but all in all a great tale of human exploration, hubris, and survival.