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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

"I did have a murderous trip down South, but it was mighty interesting." In October 1913, Theodore Roosevelt arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on a tour of South America. The thrill-seeking adventurer had no idea that he would soon receive an offer he couldn’t refuse: the chance to lead an expedition deep into the Amazon jungle to chart an unmapped river with his son Kermit and renowned Brazilian explorer Candido Mariano da Silva Rondon. Death on the River of Doubt takes readers inside the thrilling journey that unfolds as Roosevelt, Rondon, Kermit, and their companions navigate an unpredictable river through an unforgiving jungle. With new threats at every turn, from bloodthirsty piranhas and raging rapids to starvation, disease, and a traitor in their own ranks, it seems that not everyone will make it out alive. Through it all, the indomitable Teddy Roosevelt remained determined to complete their mission and rewrite the map of the world. Or die trying.…

Overall Book Review:

If one ever questioned that truth is stranger than fiction, then Death on the River of Doubt by Samantha Seiple should remove any doubt on that matter.  Truly, one can’t make this stuff up.  Theodore Roosevelt’s exploratory journey down a South American river was an adventure that would have given Indiana Jones a run for his money.  This is a fabulous non-fiction book that is packed with action from page one.  Throughout are fantastic black-and-white photos from the actual expedition.  

One of the best aspects of the book is that the author put Theodore Roosevelt in perspective as a person.  Staring with his childhood, which will grab the interest of young readers, Ms. Seiple quickly moves through the highlights of Roosevelt’s career, interests, and accomplishments.  It becomes clear why this incredibly dangerous undertaking would have been irresistible to Roosevelt.  Additionally, it reveals a lot to be admired regarding Roosevelt’s character.

A reader as young as nine would enjoy this book, but it has good upward reach and middle schoolers will also find it appealing; adults will learn a thing or two also.  Another well-done addition to middle grade non-fiction by Ms. Seiple!

Review of an Advance Reader’s Copy

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Scholastic Press (A Scholastic Imprint)

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  None

Violence/Gore:  Report of death of parents from natural causes; report of death of wife from natural causes; several instances of hunting/fishing for food; secondhand reports of injury; character injured on rocks, mention of blood; report of events of Battle San Juan; report of old injury from a boxing match; report of a severe injury from a trolley crash; report of assassination attempt by gunshot at point-blank range, mention of blood (~1 page) with photographs showing blood-stained shirt and x-ray showing bullet); report of death of animals; extended account of an individual who was shot on the underside of arm, mention of blood, tendons, tourniquets and another shot and killed; report of Indians shooting and killing/injuring with poison-tipped arrows; report of piranha bit off toe, bit shoulder (brief account); report of leader beating workers with a switch; snake tried to bit an individual and they attempted to stomp on it; death by drowning; pet shot with arrows and killed; cannibalism tradition discussed; man shot point-blank and killed; descriptions of expedition members seriously ill from malaria.

Sex/Nudity:  Individual is said to have gone swimming in his “birthday suit”; black and white photo included showing Amazon native from the back, nude (non-sexual).

Mature Subject Matter:

Death, death of family members, starvation, cannibalism.

Alcohol / Drug Use:


Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

An accountant and CPA by profession, I found myself a book reviewer for Squeaky Clean Reads by happenstance. When the opportunity came to transform that website into Compass Book Ratings, I was excited to seize it and meld my business background with my love of books. As the mother of three teenage sons, I have read a large number of children and young adult books and I believe that there is great value in a content review service. As much as we would love to read everything our children read, there just isn’t enough time. I also appreciate being able to select books for myself that are really worth my precious and limited reading time. I believe there is a book out there for everyone–they just have to find it!