wouldn't you know it -- I just bought this book and it turns out that it's also this month's selection from Politics and Prose's signed first editionswouldn't you know it -- I just bought this book and it turns out that it's also this month's selection from Politics and Prose's signed first editions thingie, shipping soon. I don't need two copies, so if anyone in the US would like a brand-new, never-read copy, I am beyond happy to give it to you free & I'll pay postage.
Just leave a comment followed by a PM with an address, and it will go out on Friday.
Just wow. What an amazing tale, made all the more amazing because it's true, and this all happened in the 1830s. I'm beyond happy I read this book. MuJust wow. What an amazing tale, made all the more amazing because it's true, and this all happened in the 1830s. I'm beyond happy I read this book. Much more soon -- for now, armchair explorers, history fanatics and people interested in travel accounts would definitely be interested, with the caveat that it's very long (although Stephens did say he'd been as brief as possible), and very detailed. ...more
There has been a long history of explorers searching for lost cities, and here Preston brings that same sort of exploratiomaybe a 3.5 not rounded up.
There has been a long history of explorers searching for lost cities, and here Preston brings that same sort of exploration (although technologically updated) to his readers. This "lost city" is located in the Mosquitia region of Honduras, in a god-forsaken place to which access is pretty much impossible.
After going through a brief history of attempts to discover this lost city, Preston's account reveals how he joined an expedition to the area after a documentary filmmaker named Steve Elkins had decided to make a search of the area using lidar technology. The cost to do the whole area was prohibitive, so Elkins settled on a search area of about fifty square miles. Not only did Elkins and his team discover one large site, they discovered a second one as well. Most of the book details the ground expedition -- pitfalls, surprises and discoveries, etc., -- as well as its aftermath.
I have to say that I was glued to this book as far as this expedition goes because of my fascination with this sort of thing, and I do believe he does a fine job relating events for armchair travelers like myself and doing it in a way that transmits the excitement, the frustrations, the hard work, the perils etc. involved. I also enjoyed reading about the history of other attempts at finding the Lost City that he provides which puts the search for this particular site in a larger context. But having said that, I do have a couple of big niggles.
Aside from a couple of issues re sources, my major complaint is that quite a bit of space was used by the author in this book to discuss a horrific illness that some of the expedition members picked up, brought on by bites from parasitic sand fleas at the team's camp. I didn't mind that so much, since it was interesting, but he uses this potentially-deadly illness to bring up dangerous effects of global warming. Now before anyone gets huffy, does the eyeroll, and starts calling me a denier, that's not the case at all. In fact, I totally share Preston's views about climate change and global warming. It's just that it came across as out of place in this book, and left me thinking that perhaps this is not the correct venue for that particular discussion. Another thing: the history of diseases brought to this area that he offers in making his point as to what may have caused the disappearance of the indigenous population of the "Lost City" is certainly compelling, but Preston is a journalist/author, not a scientist, and once again, his own speculations seemed misdirected and out of place here, especially without evidence from the site itself to back them up.
I will say that while sticking to the past history of explorations, and to the challenges of the expedition of which he was a member, the author managed to keep me turning pages, so in that sense and during those times, it was a good read. Keeping in mind my caveats here, I'd recommend it (although to be very honest, I'm not bubbling over with great enthusiasm here) to other readers who enjoy this sort of thing.