Nancy Oakes'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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's review
Nov 19, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorite, nonfiction, the-amazon
Read in November, 2008

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 great city in a valley somewhere. He spent years doing research and gathering evidence for the existence of this place in order to get funding for expeditions into Brazil's interior. On the 1925 expedition, he took his son, Jack, and Jack's best friend, both eager to be part of a mission that would make history. But shortly after they had arrived into the Amazon area, all communications ceased, and while their movements were traced to a point, nothing concrete was ever heard regarding the three explorers. Their disappearance, and the publicity following the mission from which they never returned, prompted years worth of explorers trying to locate any trace of Fawcett, his son, and his son's friend, even as late as 1996. Too bad for those left behind, Fawcett, who was facing a lot of competition from others exploring the Amazon at the time, and worried that these other explorers might find the lost city of Z before he would, kept his route a very closely guarded secret, so it was pretty much impossible for anyone to go in to either locate bodies, effect a rescue or even trace with any accuracy the steps taken by Fawcett and his group. Although Fawcett's wife refused to believe that her husband and son were gone, they had pretty much just vanished off the face of the earth. Grann, who writes for the New Yorker, decided to try to find Fawcett's route and discover what had happened to him once and for all. This book not only traces Grann's efforts, but takes the reader back into the Victorian period, at the peak of the British Empire, to look at exactly who Percy Fawcett was. It also examines old and modern views of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon as well as offers a glimpse of the fate of the rain forest in modern times.

Simply stunning and superb, I loved this book so much that I pre-ordered a copy for when it is released for the general reading public. The writing is excellent, the mystery surrounding Fawcett's disappearance is well portrayed, and the amount of effort that Grann went to in his research is very much apparent here. If you are looking for something entirely different that will mesmerize you instantly, you cannot miss this book. I had never heard about any of this up until now, & my curiosity has been sparked enough that I made notes and took down book titles to fill in some holes in my knowledge.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough, and I would like to thank Doubleday for sending me this book and also those on Shelf Awareness for offering it as an ARC. It is an excellent piece of writing.
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05/30/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Krista the Krazy Kataloguer I'll be looking forward to reading this one. I read about Fawcett years ago in a book on famous missing persons cases, and have been intrigued about it ever since.

message 2: by Philip (new) - added it

Philip If you are looking for a real-life account of Indiana Jones meets the heart of darkness, this is for you. It is filled with accounts of passion and obsession with finding El Dorado, the golden city in the Amazon which... led to this amateur explorers demise and many others who attempted to retrace his footsteps. Sprinkled through out the book are accounts of the respective zeitgeist from which these explores found themselves interpreting their quests, from spiritualism to scientism

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