Great River Expedition Book Recommendations

The adventurous allure of distant rivers held a fascination for American explorers of the 19th and early 20th centuries.  Author and maritime historian Andy Jampoler recounts the true stories of three voyages of discovery.

In 1848 Navy Lieutenant William Lynch and his party of volunteer sailors undertook the first and only American expedition of exploration to the Dead Sea.  Defying Bedouin threats and epidemic disease, the expedition was the first to determine precisely how far the Dead Sea was below sea level.

Under orders from the navy secretary, in 1885 Lieutenant Emory Taunt traveled alone on Africa’s disease-infested Congo River.  He returned later, unsuccessfully seeking wealth and hoping to salvage a reputation marred by alcoholism.  He died beside the river in 1891 while serving as the first resident American diplomat in the Congo Free State.

Former President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1913 expedition on the mysterious Amazon tributary, the “River of Doubt,” after his failed third term re-election, almost killed him.  Follow Roosevelt’s journey through lethal Amazonia overland and downriver by dugout canoe.

Here is a list of books mentioned in Andy’s talk at the Smithsonian Associates program, Great River Expeditions, on Saturday, May 13, 2017.


The River Jordan and the Dead Sea: William Lynch, 1848

Collins, Steven & Scott, Latayne C., Discovering the City of Sodom

Goren, Haim, Dead Sea Level

Jampoler, Andrew C.A., Sailors in the Holy Land: The 1848 American Expedition to the Dead Sea and the Search for Sodom and Gomorrah

Lynch, William Francis, Narrative of the United States Expedition to the River Jordan and the Dead Sea


The Congo: Emory Taunt, 1885

Conrad, Joseph, Heart of Darkness

Doyle, A. Conan, The Crime of the Congo

Hochschild, Adam, King Leopold’s Ghost

Jampoler, Andrew C.A.,  Congo: The Miserable Expeditions and Dreadful Death of Lt. Emory Taunt, USN

Stanley, Henry M, Through the Dark Continent

Twain, Mark, King Leopold’s Soliloquy

Van Reybrouck, David, Congo: The Epic History of a People


The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt 1913—14

Creighton, Margaret, The Electrifying Force of Rainbow City

Herndon, Wm. Lewis & Gibbon, Lardner, Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon

Kinder, Gary, Ship of Gold and the Deep Blue Sea

Kinzer, Stephen, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain and the Birth of the American People

Millard, Candice, The River of Doubt

Morris, EdmundColonel Roosevelt

Morris, EdmundTheodore Rex

Morris, EdmundThe Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

Roosevelt, Theodore, Through the Brazilian Wilderness


Books by Andy:


Sailors in the Holy Land

Last Lincoln Conspirator

Horrible Shipwreck


Black Rock and Blue Water

Embassy to the Eastern Courts