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seriouslyreadabook

Seriously, Read a Book!

Thoughts on books, often interpreted through the high-brow prism of cartoon (read: Archer) references. Wait! I had something for this...

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The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey

The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey - Candice Millard

Theodore Roosevelt, adrenaline/adventure junkie extraordinary, upon losing the 1912 presidential election, "resorted to the only therapy he knew: physical hardship and danger." Enter the Amazon and the heretofore uncharted "River of Doubt." As someone who has spent a good chunk of time journeying outside of civilization (e.g. backpacking along the Appalachian Trail, sailing from Mexico to Tahiti, out of site of land for a solid month), this story had me cringing from start to finish.

 

In addition to relying on a man whose claim to fame was eking out of the Arctic barely-alive to outfit their expedition, the creepy crawlies they encounter are straight out of episodes of River Monsters and Monsters Inside Me

 

Note to self: do not attempt to hold a piranha in mouth and/or pee in water that may be inhabited by candiru.

 

Millard spends a good deal of time expounding as to why the jungle is the punishing environment that it is. But, I'll just share Sterling Archer's sentiments which sum things up pretty well:



Not only are they ill-prepared for the physical environment, but the crew of characters is bound for culture clash from the start. Anyone who has ever ventured into the wilderness with a group of others knows just how much truth there is to the following:

A man may be a pleasant companion when you always meet him clad in dry clothes, and certain of substantial meals at regulated intervals, but the same cheery individual may seem a very different person when you are both on half rations, eaten cold, and have been drenched for three days—sleeping from utter exhaustion, cramped and wet.


My real disappointment with this book is my own fault- that I wanted to learn more about TR (but I suppose that's what Edmund Morris' books are around for). I'd recommend this for anyone who's in the mood for a good adventure tale, or is looking to see another side of this Rough Rider.