Bruised after his defeat in the 1912 presidential election, Theodore Roosevelt sought the rigors of a South American expedition. But the descent into an unmapped tributary of the Amazon proved to be a much more dangerous test than even a stout figure like Roosevelt could have imagined. His traveling party came up against poor planning, churning rapids, suspicious indigenous people, sickness and a rude assortment of wildlife. Roosevelt nearly died on the trip, which Overland Park resident Candice Millard recounts in gripping detail in her first book, The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey, published last fall by Doubleday. A former writer and editor at National Geographic, Millard faced a difficult journey of her own. She read the galleys in a hospital bed while her newborn daughter faced surgery to remove a tumor. The surgery was successful, as was the story Millard held in her hands. The New York Times named The River of Doubt one of the notable books of 2005. TheWashington Post called it "a truly gripping tale."