Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Lost City of Z by David Grann

Flap copy from ARC:
"After stumbling upon a hidden trove of diaries, acclaimed New Yorker writer David Grann set out to solve "the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth century:" What happened to the British explorer Percy Fawcett and his quest for the Lost City of Z?

In 1925 Fawcett ventured into the Amazon to find an ancient civilization, hoping to make one of the most important discoveries in history. For centuries Europeans believed the world’s largest jungle concealed the glittering kingdom of El Dorado. Thousands had died looking for it, leaving many scientists convinced that the Amazon was truly inimical to humankind. But Fawcett, whose daring expeditions helped inspire Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, had spent years building his scientific case. Captivating the imagination of millions around the globe, Fawcett embarked with his twenty-one-year-old son, determined to prove that this ancient civilization--which he dubbed 'Z'--existed. Then he and his expedition vanished.

Fawcett’s fate--and the tantalizing clues he left behind about 'Z'--became an obsession for hundreds who followed him into the uncharted wilderness. For decades scientists and adventurers have searched for evidence of Fawcett’s party and the lost City of Z. Countless have perished, been captured by tribes, or gone mad. As David Grann delved ever deeper into the mystery surrounding Fawcett’s quest, and the greater mystery of what lies within the Amazon, he found himself, like the generations who preceded him, being irresistibly drawn into the jungle’s green hell."


This is a truly excellent book that tells the parallel stories of two explorers- one looking for El Dorado, the other looking for the truth. From the very first page, Grann pulls the reader into the story; it is easy to see how he became obsessed with the story of missing explorer Percy Fawcett and why it risked everything to try to find the truth about Fawcett's disappearance. This book is a real-life Indiana Jones story which kept this reader on the edge of her chair.

The writing is crisp and engaging as Grann presents the history of Fawcett's life and legacy. I found myself unable to put the book down, hoping that reading just one more page would shed some light on the enduring mystery. This book is a must read for anyone interested in the Amazon or in the history of exploration. 5 stars and highly recommended.

1 comment:

jennysbooks said...

Oo, this sounds intriguing! Whenever I read about explorers, I think I should run off and explore something - briefly, before I remember that I have contact lenses and allergies and I like sleeping in my own nice bed.