Next meeting: Wednesday,
“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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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
Paddling the River of Doubt 100 years after Roosevelt
Video footage from the
June - Ordinary Grace by William Kent
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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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