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, 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 world’s 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 Doyle’s 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 civilization—which he dubbed “Z”—existed. Then he and his expedition vanished.
Fawcett’s fate—and the tantalizing clues he left behind about “Z”—became an obsession for hundreds who followed him into the uncharted wilderness. For decades scientists and adventurers have searched for evidence of Fawcett’s 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 Fawcett’s 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 jungle’s “green hell.” His quest for the truth and his stunning discoveries about Fawcett’s fate and “Z” form the heart of this complex, enthralling narrative.
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More Than A Myth?
"Z" gives the listener a glimpse of what it would be like to trek along with the early explorers as they hacked through uncharted territories -- where any plant, bug, fish, or animal, not to mention cannibalistic native, could end their life before they could do a specimen sketch in their notebook. Grann shares horrific journal entries relating some of the most evil bugs imaginable, and a landscape that itself seemed like a savage monster; but he also uncovers the obsession that drove Percy Fawcett back into the jungle and to his mysterious fate, the Royal Geographical Society's involvement, and the support(beyond all logic) of a family left behind. The author states he is not an explorer--a fact evident as he tries to make his mundane journalistic investigation entwine with the otherwise fantastical and terrifying real-life adventures of Fawcett, an approach that at times feels awkward and tedious. It's not that Grann's writing is bad at all, it's very good, the problem is the stories about Percy are absolutely gripping and on a panoramic stage; Grann's recounting the journals...in comparison, not so grand! A tough balancing act for any author! Movie rights have been purchased (rumor says Brad Pitt will play Fawcett) and this might be one case where the silver screen can do a better job of telling this huge Amazonian mystery than mere words; but make sure you READ IT FIRST, and if you happen to be an adventurer...pay attention to the very ...END...???
I bought it thinking it was fiction. Then to find out it is a true story. Crazy interesting!
David Grann is one of our best living journalists and storytellers
I love all of Grann’s work. This is no doubt one of his most exceptional stories. I particularly appreciated how, by including himself as a character, he made the whole thing seem more accessible and humanized the western explorers who journeyed through the Amazon before him, who otherwise—to me, anyway—would seem almost too insane to relate to.