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The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  39,360 Ratings  ·  3,758 Reviews
A grand mystery reaching back centuries. A sensational disappearance that made headlines around the world. A quest for truth that leads to death, madness or disappearance for those who seek to solve it. The Lost City of Z is a blockbuster adventure narrative about what lies beneath the impenetrable jungle canopy of the Amazon.

After stumbling upon a hidden trove of diaries
Hardcover, 351 pages
Published February 24th 2009 by Doubleday/Random House (NY) (first published January 1st 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 17, 2010 Kemper rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
We’ve all been wrong on this whole rainforest issue. We don’t need to SAVE the rainforest. We need to DESTROY the rainforest. Immediately.

I knew that the Amazon was a hostile environment, but I was really shocked at the variety of horrific ways that the jungle will kill a person. You’ve got your standard malaria and yellow fever. Then there’s the piranha, the electric eels, the anacondas, the coral snakes or the poisonous toads that are so toxic that one of them could kill a hundred people. Sti
Will Byrnes
Be careful when you pick this book up. You won’t want to put it down. In 1925, Percy Harrison Fawcett, armed with information only he had unearthed, accompanied by his son, his son’s best friend and a small company of bearers and support personnel, headed off into the Amazonian wilderness in search of a large, ancient, fabled city, the City of Z. Fawcett, his son, Jack, and Jack’s friend, Raleigh, were never seen again. There were many attempts by later explorers of varying levels of expertise t ...more
Jason Koivu
Jun 06, 2014 Jason Koivu rated it really liked it
This will make you feel like a kid again! It will ignite a Jonny Quest kind of desire for adventure, to dive into the jungle in search of lost worlds.

This will also quench most desires to ever take one step closer to a jungle.

"Z" is supposedly a long lost South American city of a once powerful people. Think El Dorado. Did it ever really exist? Finding out was the self-imposed task of an almost legend of a man who lives up to the myth:

Famous British explorer Percy Harrison Fawcett...


A military m
Nancy Oakes
Nov 25, 2008 Nancy Oakes rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book and was immediately lost between the covers and could not stop reading until I had finished the entire thing. That's how good this book is.

The author sets forth the story of Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett, a British explorer who in 1925 set out on an expedition to the Amazon to find what he had named the "lost city of Z." He was convinced that an ancient and "highly cultured" people lived in the Amazon of Brazil, untouched by modern civilization, and that they lived in a gr
Jonathan Ashleigh
Mar 23, 2016 Jonathan Ashleigh rated it it was ok
I wish this book would have been fiction so the reader would find out the ending. It seems to me that the story begins over and over but there is no closure.
Apr 21, 2011 Denise rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Incredible reviews, national best seller, interesting subject matter, well written, extensively researched and yet it did nothing for me. EPIC FAIL. Not sure why but I had a hard time getting through it without falling asleep every other page. Too many details, too many names, too many stories, too much repetition (I get it, the AMAZON is incredibly dangerous). The first half just dragged and dragged. I am glad that I made myself finish it otherwise I would have nothing positive to say. I will a ...more
Feb 14, 2016 Mara rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone looking for reasons to avoid jungle expeditions.
Recommended to Mara by: Kemper
You can see how someone, perhaps someone who goes by the alias of Kemper, would read this book and come to the conclusion that we need to destroy the rainforest immediately (see review and comments that follow for a glimpse at the behaviors of peoples who have never before come into contact with sarcasm).

Seriously though, as noted in my review of Candice Millard's The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey, and further evidenced in reading this tale, the jungle is a punishing, dan
Feb 05, 2011 Trish rated it really liked it
What a great read. For really the first time I understood the fascination with the phrase 'armchair traveller.' In other circumstances, I always thought it was somewhat absurd to think that reading about a thing was as fun as doing it. In this case, it was a lot more fun to read about it than to do it. Pit vipers, swarms of biting insects, interminable wet, death by maggots...and in all of it, a frustrating mystery. At its heart, this is a story of the search for a magnificent civilization in th ...more
Feb 24, 2009 Sara rated it really liked it
The Lost City of Z by David Grann is exceptional book that I can altogether recommend to every variety of reader. This well-rendered and deeply researched biography of Percy Fawcett, centers on his all consuming obsession with the Lost City of Z (evidence of a great but forgotten jungle civilization), the international fever that follows his mysterious disappearance and some of the more exciting tidbits of Grann’s journey to piece together Fawcett’s tale.

The book is unrelenting in its portraya
Richard Derus
Apr 16, 2013 Richard Derus rated it really liked it
Rating: 4.5* of five

This review has been revised and can now be found at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.

Real-life Indiana Jones doesn't come back from this one.
Jul 19, 2014 Jeremy rated it liked it
This is kind of an odd accomplishment: an adventure book that will make you really really glad your not an adventurer. Grann's descriptions of Fawcett et al trampling through the amazonian rainforest with their crass, (often racist) imperialist delusions of grandeur and discovery are often gut-wrenching. Skin peels off in sheets, everyone gets malaria, parasites, maggot infections (shudder), gangrene, etc. Trekking through unspoiled tropical jungles is utterly horrifying, you basically just turn ...more
Nov 30, 2010 Ryan rated it really liked it
The most dangerous moment in my highly amateurish hiking career was when I fell a little behind my friends and then fell off a mountain path. Fortunately, I was holding a rope and did not roll down the cliff into the rocks below. Unfortunately, my friends couldn't hear me screaming for help. I held on tight, calmed myself, and climbed back on to the path.

It scared the living daylights out of my mom when I told her, even though I was clearly still alive as I told the story.

So you can bet that my
Excellent engaging read of a quest of a quest. Grann, a non-athletic journalist in New York, becomes obsessed with the obsession of an early 20th century British explorer, James Fawcett, with the uncharted areas of the Amazon near the boundaries of Bolivia and Brazil. His fame for several expeditions between 1905 and 1915 skyrocketed to nearly Airhart proportions when he disappeared with his son and his friend on a 1925 journey into the vast Mato Grosso wilderness of Brazil in search the ruins o ...more
Jan 03, 2014 Christopher rated it really liked it
Don't you think the magic is gone from this world? There's nothing left to explore or discover. And if I were to pack a backpack and trek off into the Amazon rain forest in search of a city made of gold and possibly the fountain of youth, you'd institutionalize me.

But not Percy (F'ing) Fawcett, the guy whose mustache and zeal for adventure more than makes up for his sissy first name.

He's the real-life Indiana Jones. A treasure hunter, not an archaeologist (and by the way, it's clear to me now t
That obnoxious Amazon. It likes to monopolize and dominate the jungle. Although one might be led to believe that there would be an abundance of everything where such a mighty force exists, the truth is exactly the opposite. As David Grann puts it himself: It’s the great “counterfeit paradise”. I couldn’t agree more. Amazon will starve you. Amazon will desiccate you. And finally, Amazon will obliterate you. Because, simply put, Amazon doesn’t care for you. It’s a green desert. Unfit for human civ ...more
Oct 07, 2009 Bruce rated it it was ok
Two stars is probably generous. The rating stems from having known but little about the Amazon rainforest from an experiential point of view. Had I even taken more than a few trips to the National Zoo's only-slightly-muggy version largely without free-roaming pestilence, my rating would probably have been lower. So expectations and foreknowledge are everything here. The more you already know about what a godforsaken wasteland the Amazon is (from a nontropical, industrialized, rocking-chair, arti ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I felt really sorry for these guys because they didn't have DEET! BUGSBUGSBUGSBUGSBUGS!!!! :>0
Dave Cullen
Jun 16, 2015 Dave Cullen rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. This is a new classic of the narrative nonfiction genre.

The prose is vivid and intoxicating, and he weaves together 2+ threads, seamlessly--with the Fawcett thread dominant, as it should be, yet given fresh life with the mingling of the contemporary thread.

I was drawn in from the start, but oddly enough, I REALLY got fascinated when he got to the developing field of cultural anthropology, and the fights over whether the people in the Amazon were "noble savages" or just "savages," or s
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I read this book to build anticipation for an upcoming trip to Colombia. Little did I know, it is NOT that kind of book. Grann's descriptions of all the horrible ways the Amazon can invade the body make me never want to stand in a forest again. However, the book did end on a good note: in awe of the great unknown civilizations that not only survive but thrived in the Amazon. I also found Grann's portrayal of the individuals that journeyed into the Amazon (and the people they left behind) interes ...more
Patrick Gibson
Apr 12, 2009 Patrick Gibson rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people with an interest in archaeology and adventure
Recommended to Patrick by: thank you Steven Colbert
This author was on the Colbert show a few nights ago. Even though Steven wouldn’t give the poor guy a chance to talk, the story seemed right up my alley so I picked up the book the next day. Isn’t that why authors appear on talk shows, so that numb-nuts like me will rush to Borders?

Percy Harrison Fawcett was the real-life explorer whose adventures Arthur Conan Doyle drew upon for his 1912 novel ‘The Lost Word.’ While Fawcett did not find a South American plateau populated with dinosaurs, he did
Deborah Edwards
Jun 19, 2010 Deborah Edwards rated it really liked it
Do you remember the first time you saw "Raiders of the Lost Ark?" Because I do. I remember it, because at first I didn't want to see it. The name sounded silly, and I didn't know what it was about. To my little girl mentality, it sounded like a "boy movie." But my little friends dragged me in by majority vote, and I emerged from the theater two hours later exhilarated, endlessly curious about early human cultures and determined to live a more exciting life. Years later, I stood in the middle of ...more
Jan 18, 2010 Helen rated it it was ok
The book is about the explorer Fawcett's quest for the lost city of El Dorado, called "Z" in the Amazon.

Because no one really and truly knows what DID happen to Fawcett and his son in their last Amazon region in 1925, a large amount of the book is filler. Fawcett's British colonial background, his early years, other explorations, his family, his involvement in the Royal Geographical Society and the colonial and imperialist mix that was current in the late 19th and early 20th century in England .
I love travel and adventure and ancient civiliations so a real-life journey is a must-read for me. It is amazing how many people had invested time, money and, in some cases, their lives to search for a group that people said shouldn't have gone in the first place. Maybe if those people had helped fund the expedition they wouldn't have gone missing. Or as some conspiracies say maybe he wanted to go missing.

But there's a part of me that would have also wanted to rush out looking for him. And that'
May 26, 2010 Vincent rated it it was ok
So if ever there is a book that carefully and meticulously recreates history from old yellowed documents and history books, this is it. What Grann has done here is compile all sorts of collective wisdom and narrative about the ongoing search for a civilization that may have once existed in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. Hard evidence is scarce so most of the exploration rests on theory and many of the great explorers who have gone into the amazon over the years searching out this missing c ...more
Nov 11, 2012 Suzanne rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
On his first expeditions into the Amazon, in the days before airplanes or even radios, Percy Harrison Fawcett learned how to avoid poisonous frogs and venomous coral snakes. He also knew to stay away from a species of ant that could “reduce the men’s clothes and rucksacks to threads in a single night,” flesh-eating chiggers, parasitic worms, and a catalog of other bugs that could maim or kill. If the insects didn’t get you, malaria might, or the poisoned arrow of a hostile tribesman. Crossing ri ...more
I love a good yarn. I love those crazy stories about hidden treasures, travels to the ends of the earth, and driving obsessions - the more real they are, the better.

In the Twenties, explorer Percy Fawcett wandered into the jungles of the Amazon to find the Lost City of Z, aka the ancient civilization, El Dorado. He was obsessed with the concept of this hidden civilization, and spent years researching and studying before embarking on his journey. But what happened? We know that most of his team d
Mar 28, 2010 Caroline rated it really liked it
Here's how mind-blowing this book about Amazon exploration was: even though it's clearly marked as nonfiction, and meticulously end-noted, I kept going to Google to double-check facts, because the whole thing just SEEMS like a tall tale and/or a postmodern novel that's made to look like the story of an early twenty-first-century reporter retracing the steps of an early twentieth-century explorer. But, nope this whole thing is for real.

Ultimately, I'm conflicted about the book. As a ripping yarn,
Scott Hawkins
Jan 05, 2016 Scott Hawkins rated it it was amazing
An entertaining story of early 20th century derring-do. The story of real-life adventurer Fawcett was interesting in itself, of course, but maybe not quite five stars. HOWEVER, I was pleasantly surprised that the book also gave me a sense of early 20th popular culture. I walked away with a new perspective on the environment that produced stories like The Lost World and At the Mountains of Madness.

Also, I have scratched the deep amazon off my list of places to go hiking.

This is an amazing story, with many amazing, but horrifying human destinies, about the search for a mysterious, ancient city. The lost city of Z.

Spoiler's alert!

The problem with this book was that during the first half, I didn't really care for Fawsett and his son. It's because the book handles too many destinies. I was blinded by every disappearance, and it ceased to affect me the way I had expected. Unfortunately. The book gained some speed half way through, but I'm afraid it isn't enough to m
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David Grann is a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine. He has written about everything from New York City’s antiquated water tunnels to the hunt for the giant squid to the presidential campaign.
The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, published by Doubleday, is Grann’s first book and is being developed into a movie by Brad Pitt’s Plan B production company and Paramount Pic
More about David Grann...

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“Does God think that, because it is raining, I am not going to destroy the world? - Lope de Aguirre after going mad in the Amazon” 10 likes
“Years later, another member [of the Royal Geographical Society] conceded, "Explorers are not, perhaps, the most promising people with whom to build a society. Indeed, some might say that explorers become explorers precisely because they have a streak of unsociability and a need to remove themselves at regular intervals as far as possible from their fellow men.” 7 likes
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