09 April 2015

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

Inspiring! And although it slows at times, it is a book I am already planning to re-read.

It's one of those books that makes me want to be "a doer of the word and not a hearer only." Yeah, there is mention of the hardship and the illness and the dangers. But, isn't that what adventure is? And, yes, it is probably beyond my physical limits and abilities; but, really, by the dragon and St. George, what is not?

We find it tiring to cross the room to change the channel on the TV. Here, Candace Millard gives us the harrowing TRUE story of a man going to great lengths, nearly to the greatest (yes, Roosevelt almost died down there on that doubt-shrouded river), to battle the melancholy that has hounded him so long. It's a kind of physik that is physical, medicine you cannot get from a bottle of pills filled at the local apothecary's shop. It almost kills him, this curative which he has prescribed himself. But, to paraphrase Nietzsche: it didn't kill him; it made him stronger.

Teddy Roosevelt had learned how to deal with doubt, especially self-doubt, at a young age. And that trip on the River of Doubt put every one of his lessons to the test. Maybe he was crazy to keep going. Maybe he was a little suicidal in his quest to pass this test. But, he was committed and he was determined to pass it.

Reading Millard's book is nowhere near the arduous journey it's subject undertook. In fact, it's a bit of a joy ride at times and if it gets overwhelming, you can feel free to mark your place and go get a sandwich and a glass of iced tea. Just a little warning, though: the book, the story, will call you back ere long and away you'll go to reach the end of The River of Doubt and to learn how Roosevelt and his adventure party reached the end of their River of Doubt.

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