Nenia Campbell's Reviews > The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon

The Lost City of Z by David Grann
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Mar 06, 14

liked it
bookshelves: x-2009s, travel, survival, history-101, publisher-doubleday-random-house
Read from May 27 to June 01, 2012

i have come to a conclusion. if an evil demon ever approaches me and says, "look bitch. choose now--antarctica or the amazon," i'm choosing antarctica. hands-down. "but wait, pikachu!" you say, "are you crazy? the amazon has food and water and animals and people. are you forgetting that?" no, gentle reader. in fact, the 'food,' water, animals, and people are why i would never go there. the amazon may possess plants and animals of pharmacological value--but secretly, it wants you dead.

1. there are SO MANY NASTY COOTIES. apart from the usual tropical goodies like yellow fever and malaria, there's elephantiasis, and several leprosy-like diseases. oh boy!

2. poisonous reptiles and amphibians. some species of poison dart frogs contain enough poison to kill between 10-20 full grown men (or 1,000 lab mice). poisonous snakes live there, too. there are also reptiles snakes that aren't poisonous, but you don't want to mess with those, either--the largest anaconda on record, for example, was found in the rainforest. it was twenty-seven feet long and could swallow a fully-grown deer whole.

3. poisonous insects. apart from the ones that transmit parasites and diseases that can cause anything from blindness to gangrene, there's also poisonous insects. if you're really lucky, you might come across a special variety of millipede that can spit cyanide.

4. poisonous plants. there are plants in the rainforest that can cause your skin to swell up and get infected, and all your fingernails to drop off--just by brushing against it. the amazon rainforest is sometimes called a counterfeit paradise because, in spite of all the thriving life, there's not much of a food source for you. you're the food, chump.

oh and the fun isn't limited just to the amazon, oh no. in the indonesian rainforests of borneo, there are two majorly poisonous plants. one is called the corpse plant because it gives off a smell of rotting dead bodies. the other is called rafflesia arnoldii--if it looks familiar, it's because the pokemon vileplume was modeled off it. it too reeks of dead things. and just to make things that much more interesting, the corpse plant is a lot like the pokemon "gloom." (incidentally, victreebell is modeled off the tropical pitcher plant, which is basically an oversized venus fly trap that consumes large insects and small rodents. yum yum!)

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5. angry natives. many natives to the amazon were exploited by white "rubber barons." if the indians tried to escape, they were killed, tortured, raped, or otherwise punished in a wide variety of cruel and unspeakable ways. as such, many of them have been conditioned to hate white people. they can:
-eat their enemies
-shoot them with poison darts
-hold them for hostage
-torture them

for a good fiction read on this subject, check out the sound of butterflies by rachel king.

6. flash floods. think that's a dried-up riverbed? think again.

7. man-eating fish. we've all heard about piranhas, but did you know that there's a fish that will go after your junk? yes, you heard me correctly. penis-eating fish. there's a species of catfish in the rainforest that parasitically feasts on blood. usually it attacks the gills of other fish, but it has been known to go after wangs. and it has SPINES, so men have to be castrated or they'll die because--guess what?--this fish is also poisonous! bet you didn't see that coming!

8. it is the bermuda triangle of south america. people come in--and they don't come back out.

so yeah, i'll definitely take the nice, cold, relatively germ- and savage animal/indigenous people-free arctic over the green, leafy hell that is the amazon rainforest. don't get me wrong! i don't think we should cut it down--in fact, doing so leaves many of those natives homeless and with yet another murderous chip on their shoulders. plus, we're killing potentially valuable plants and animals. but i definitely don't want to go there. my thinking is, if a place has made itself that determined to keep you the f*ck out--stay the f*ck out! you wouldn't try to go into a house that was surrounded with barbed wire and dobermans and a guy with a beer gut toting a remington, right?


and on that note, i don't understand why people feel this need to go in there and mess with stuff. i get the value of searching for medicine, cataloging new species of animals, and anthropologists studying the people and culture. in fact, i really admire that. because that has benefits beyond fame and glory, but fawcett and the author weren't exactly doing that. fawcett was doing it to find "z" so he could bask in the glory, and the author was doing it presumably to find info about fawcett but--i suspect--mostly so he could have something cool to write about.

which would be perfectly fine, except he is married and has a baby boy! it killed me a little inside when he was talking about how selfish fawcett was and how is exploring put a strain on his wife's marriage, but he was doing the exact same thing to his own poor family. and with all of those horrible diseases and parasites, why would you run the risk of transmitting them to your wife, let alone your own son? that seems so unspeakably callous and cold never mind selfish and completely without a trace of forethought. particularly since some of those diseases don't manifest themselves for decades. i'm sorry but that's just bad parenting. it's irresponsible and it's stupid.

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so while i actually really enjoyed reading this, i could barely bring myself to give it more two stars because i don't think people should be encouraged to do stupid things when they have a family, because when you have a family, you're making a commitment to them, to support them and keep them safe. if you're a bachelor, fine. at least you're only hurting yourself--though hopefully you took the time to understand the risks beforehand. this is about as far from that as i can conceivably imagine. ugh. i'm so annoyed.

four stars for all the interesting facts about the amazonian plants, animals, people, and history.

one star for foolhardy authors not taking the consequences of their own behavior's effects on their families into account.
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Reading Progress

05/29/2012 page 66
19.0% "just so i'm keeping track...
05/31/2012 page 258
76.0% "I am never, never, EVER going to the Amazon. Ever."

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Michael (new)

Michael Stop the rainforest before it's too late!!!

Nenia Campbell jumanji wasn't just a columbia tri-star home video. was also a warning.

Sara I can't even write my own review because yours is making me laugh so hard!!!

Nenia Campbell I'm glad you enjoyed it. :D

Casey ~Kaleidoscopic Killer of the Deep~ "if a place has made itself that determined to keep you the f*ck out--stay the f*ck out!"

I love this review.

Nenia Campbell Casey wrote: ""if a place has made itself that determined to keep you the f*ck out--stay the f*ck out!"

I love this review."

Thanks, Casey! :D

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