Adventure with us on the River of Doubt

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By Oak Park Public Library

Join us for a lively discussion of Candice Millard's remarkable account of the Roosevelt adventure to Brazil. We discuss River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey on Friday, May 18 at 12:00 noon at the Dole Branch Library, 255 Augusta Street. Millard beautifully captures the tension and relevance of the 1913 adventure to the previously unexplored River of Doubt, a tributary of the Amazon River in Brazil.

Theodore Roosevelt served as the 26th U.S. president from 1901-1909. Prior to his setting off on this adventure, Roosevelt failed to secure a third presidential nomination. Roosevelt's popularity was at an all time low – this in spite of being shot by a disgruntled saloonkeeper in Milwaukee who thought that anyone running for a third term should be shot. (Roosevelt was shot in the chest, but survived because he carried his glasses case and a pack of notes in the breast pocket!) As happened repeatedly in Roosevelt's life, when faced with upset or defeat he sought out escape through adventure. Kermit, Theodore's son, had been working in Brazil and had the same quest for adventure as his father. Though he was recently engaged to Belle Willard and wanting to marry, Kermit was asked by his mother Edith to postpone the wedding and to take care of Theodore. The Roosevelts joined with famed explorer, Colonel Candido Rondon to explore the river in 1913-1914.

Along the way they suffered from inadequate supplies, loss of equipment, and disease. There was murder among their party and they were stalked by a hostile native tribe. Theodore suffered from an infection in his leg and malaria. He despaired of ever returning home and contemplated ending his life until Kermit convinced him that it would make it harder for the party if they had to try to maneuver his dead body back home.

In the end they persevered. Kermit returned to marry Belle. The after effects of the malaria stayed with Theodore. But both father and son were honored by the Brazilian government by having the River of Doubt renamed Rio Roosevelt and a smaller tributary named Rio Kermit.

All are welcome to attend our book discussion on May 18. Copies of River of Doubt are available at the Dole Branch Library. Our Read & Reflect book group meets monthly to discuss a nonfiction title.

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