After stumbling upon a hidden trove of diaries, acclaimed New Yorker writer David Grann set out to solve "the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth century": What happened to the British explorer Percy Fawcett and his quest for the Lost City of Z?
In 1925 Fawcett ventured into the Amazon to find an ancient civilization, hoping to make one of the most important discoveries in history. For centuries Europeans believed the worlds largest jungle concealed the glittering kingdom of El Dorado. Thousands had died looking for it, leaving many scientists convinced that the Amazon was truly inimical to humankind. But Fawcett, whose daring expeditions helped inspire Conan Doyles The Lost World, had spent years building his scientific case. Captivating the imagination of millions around the globe, Fawcett embarked with his twenty-one-year-old son, determined to prove that this ancient civilizationwhich he dubbed Zexisted. Then he and his expedition vanished.
Fawcetts fateand the tantalizing clues he left behind about Zbecame an obsession for hundreds who followed him into the uncharted wilderness. For decades scientists and adventurers have searched for evidence of Fawcetts party and the lost City of Z. Countless have perished, been captured by tribes, or gone mad. As David Grann delved ever deeper into the mystery surrounding Fawcetts quest, and the greater mystery of what lies within the Amazon, he found himself, like the generations who preceded him, being irresistibly drawn into the jungles green hell. His quest for the truth and his stunning discoveries about Fawcetts fate and Z form the heart of this complex, enthralling narrative.
WE SHALL RETURN
On a cold January day in 1925, a tall, distinguished gentleman hurried across the docks in Hoboken, New Jersey, toward the S.S. Vauban, a five-hundred-and-eleven-foot ocean liner bound for Rio de Janeiro. He was fifty-seven years old, and stood over six feet, his long arms corded with muscles.
Although his hair was thinning and his mustache was flecked with white, he was so fit that he could walk for days with little, if any, rest or nourishment. His nose was crooked like a boxer's, and there was something ferocious about his appearance, especially his eyes. They were set close together and peered out from under thick tufts of hair. No one, not even his family, seemed to agree on their color-some thought they were blue, others gray. Yet virtually everyone who encountered him was struck by their intensity: some called them "the eyes of a visionary." He had frequently been photographed in riding boots and wearing a Stetson, with a rifle slung over his shoulder, but ...
... Ultimately, Grann's strategy doesn't pay off, and it doesn't elevate the book into something more than its subject matter. I will highly recommend this book to anyone I know with an interest in exploration. But this is not a book, like Daniel Everett's Don't Sleep, There are Snakes, that I'll push on everyone I know, whether or not they have an interest in the Amazon. Grann got me interested in Fawcett, but not obsessed. Given the maggots, that's probably a good thing.
(Reviewed by Amy Reading).
Full Review (782 words).
If Fawcett's adventures in the Amazon pique your interest, you can hack into
the jungle of research on him and Z with the following as guides
...from the serious .
Charles Mann, author of
1491, theorizes on what a
pre-Colombian civilization in the Amazon might have been like in the
David Grann speaks to interviewers at the New Yorker and the Daily Beast. His original article about Fawcett was published in the New Yorker (you may need to register to view it.)
Michael Heckenberger from the University of Florida, is excavating ancient ruins that indicate Fawcett was at least partially right in his quest for a lost city. His website ...
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