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

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  25,039 ratings  ·  2,888 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...more
Hardcover, 351 pages
Published February 24th 2009 by Doubleday/Random House (NY) (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

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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...more
Will Byrnes
UPDATE - 1/15/2012 - link at bottom

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 explore...more
Nancy Oakes
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...more
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
Apr 16, 2014 Mara rated it 3 of 5 stars 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...more
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...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
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.
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
Dec 08, 2011 Jeremy added 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
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...more
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
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...more
Patrick Gibson
Apr 12, 2009 Patrick Gibson rated it 4 of 5 stars 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...more
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
Jeanette (Most of My Favorite Authors Are Dead)
I felt really sorry for these guys because they didn't have DEET! BUGSBUGSBUGSBUGSBUGS!!!! :>0
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Deborah Edwards
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
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
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...more
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 ....more

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...more
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'...more
La Petite Américaine
This is the kind of book everyone needs.

I don't know about you, but when I lived in New York, my life WAS my office job. That is, talking about sales forecasts, writing up spread sheets and cursing Excel when I couldn't copy/paste from one cell to another, and being encouraged to think of ways I could improve the company while knowing I could be laid off at any minute. All so common, and all such a snore. Now, even my exciting life in Italy is still tedious at times, albeit for different reasons...more
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,...more
This is a great adventure story of an early 20th century Amazon explorer who mysteriously disappeared on one of his many sojouurns into the heart of Amazonia. Acutally, the area Percy Fawcett explored was south of the Amazon proper; mostly he explored in western Brazil near the Bolivian border, though he disappeared on a trek eastward from there. Lots of interesting sidelines are here, including his brother's, his wife's and his own interest in spiritualism, of the Madame Blavatsky sort. Also hi...more
this is a fun read. the book straddles quite nicely that line between bookish and entertaining. the narrative is a little lop-sided. i think grann's own adventure pales in comparison, in terms of drama, but of course it's crucial to getting you the answers you are looking for -- namely, does z exist? and what happened to percy fawcett?

i think i most enjoyed the descriptions of the difficult nature of amazonian exploration. the bugs, the maggots, the disease, harsh nature of the terrain. grann b...more
I alternated between being riveted and disgusted/horrified by this book. I listened to the audiobook in my car, so I couldn't skim the gross bits. It's quite the armchair travel read about Major Percy Fawcett, famous intrepid British explorer of the Amazon back in Victorian times. Man of iron constitution, kind of an a**hole to those of weaker constitution (and I relate more toward the weak), apparently very charming and good looking as well. Thoroughly obsessive. Must! Explore!

It's an interesti...more
I started reading David Grann’s The Lost City of Z a few weeks ago and half way through it I realized what attracted me to it. It takes me back to another book of my youth. The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a book that I loved as a kid. Probably, I read the Classics Illustrated Comic version before I actually read the book (as was the case with many books from Treasure Island to Hamlet).

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is much better known as the creator of Sherlock Holmes. Even if you have nev...more
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
Erik Graff
Jan 13, 2013 Erik Graff rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Amazonia fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: travel
I picked this up recently at the Evanston, Illinois public library and read it as a bedtime book.

The narrative has two strands. One is about Percy Fawcett, the original, early 20th century explorer of the Amazon, his belief that there had once been a high civilization in the region and his disappearance while looking for it. The other is about the author and how he attempted to discern and then retrace Fawcett's final trek and ultimate fate. The two are interwoven.

The stuff about Fawcett is rath...more
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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
More about David Grann...
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“...much of the discovery of the world was based on failure rather than on success--on tactical errors and pipe dreams.” 6 likes
“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” 5 likes
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