Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Lost City of Z by David Grann

Why I Picked It Up:
I needed a nonfiction book about South America to complete one of The Seasonal Reading Challenge tasks and my library had this one in ebook form.

From the Publisher:
In 1925, Percy Fawcett ventured into the Amazon to find an ancient civilization, vowing to make one of the most important archeological discoveries in history. For centuries Europeans believed the world's largest jungle concealed the glittering kingdom of El Dorado. Thousands died looking for it. Over time many scientists came to view the Amazon as a deathtrap that could never support a complex society. 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 21-year-old son & his son's best friend, determined to prove that this ancient civilization, dubbed Z, existed. Then he & his expedition vanished. Fawcett's fate & the tantalizing clues he left behind became an obsession for hundreds who followed him into the uncharted wilderness. For decades scientists & adventurers have searched for evidence of Fawcett's party & the lost city. Countless have perished, been captured by tribes or gone mad. As David Grann delved ever deeper into the mystery surrounding Fawcett's quest & the greater mystery of what lies within the Amazon, he found himself, like the generations who preceded him, drawn into the jungle's green hell. His quest for the truth & his discoveries about Fawcett's fate & Z, form the heart of this narrative.

My Thoughts:
This is a fascinating story of an explorer I'd heard of, but didn't really know much about. The author was given access to some of Fawcett's notes and letters that had been passed down through the Fawcett family. These primary sources (and many others) allowed him to reconstruct Fawcett's amazing Amazon explorations. But Grann goes beyond retracing Fawcett's steps by adding history and his own trip to the Amazon to the mix. Amazing story. Great book. And I loved the ending! I'd highly recommend it.   

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