The River of Doubt by Candice Millard is a remarkable account of Theodore Roosevelt's epic journey through uncharted territory in the Amazon.
I am a fan of anything that tests the limits of the human being and the journey that Roosevelt and his crew that he assembled undertook down the River of Doubt was one of the most incredible tests of the human spirit that I've ever heard of.
The stretch of the Amazon that the men set out to conquer was filled with so many obstacles. The men had to conquer intense whitewater rapids nearly every step of the way. They lost most of their boats and provisions to the difficulty of the rapids alone and were forced to build their own canoes. Losing provisions forced them to suffer through near starvation. They also had to worry about the native Indians of the jungle attacking them at any moment. The wildlife in the River of Doubt was no help either. If the men fell in the water, there was potential for piranhas to rip apart their limbs. At one point in the jounrey, Roosevelt cut his leg when he fell in the water, and was brought to the brink of suicide over the latter part of the expedition due to the infection he got from having the open wound. One of the men drowned on the journey, one of them killed another man and then was abandoned by the crew.
The stress of the journey led the men to intense despair. Roosevelt wrote in his diary, "Under such conditions, whatever is evil in man's nature comes to the front." Nothing like seeking out a good struggle to see what you're truly made of.
Map of the journey.
Theodore Roosevelt and crew.