Happy Bookers Discussion Group

Next meeting: Wednesday, May 27
at 7:00 p.m.


“If it is necessary for me to leave my bones in South America, I am quite ready to do so.” Those words, written by Theodore Roosevelt before he embarked on the most challenging expedition of his life, nearly became prophecy. Determined to chart the course of a mysterious waterway known as The River of Doubt, he and a brazen team of explorers set off on a death-defying adventure that, until now, has languished as a little-known chapter in history.

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Discussion Questions


Chapter one, “Defeat,” depicts dramatic scenes from Roosevelt’s final election. What parallels exist between a risky political career and a risky Rain Forest expedition? What enabled him to survive both?

Discuss the very concept of survival as it shapes The River of Doubt. In choosing provisions, what items did Roosevelt’s team consider necessary for survival? What aspects of survival (greater quantities of dry, mildew-free clothes, for example) did they overlook? What intangibles (especially in terms of emotions) are also necessary for such an expedition?

What aspects of humanity were represented by the various personalities in the group, ranging from exploitive Father Zahm and the rational Cherrie to the volatile Julio? Can such varied people coexist? How did you react to Roosevelt’s belief that it was necessary for Julio to be found and shot after he murdered one of the team members?

Discuss the extraordinary medical history included in The River of Doubt. How was Roosevelt able to survive so much in his lifetime --- from gunshot and disease to a train wreck --- with only rudimentary medical care? What aspects of modern medicine would have made his expedition safer? Would safer conditions have undermined the thrill?

Questions excerpted from ReadingGroupGuides.




Roosevelt-Rondon Scientific Expedition

Paddling the River of Doubt 100 years after Roosevelt

Video footage from the expedition

Upcoming Selections:

June - Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Happy Bookers selections are chosen by the participants.  Suggest a book for discussion

The Happy Bookers is Phillipsburg Library's monthly book discussion group.  We meet on the fourth Wednesday of the month at 7:00 p.m.  Newcomers are always welcome, and no registration is necessary.  Call Deb at 908-454-3712 for more information.

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