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Posted October 24, 2012
Although a little rough in its style, this is an interesting look into the world of the Amazon in the early 1900's, and the men who explored it as well as exploited it. Not a casual read because it is a journal, so it jumps around a bit, but it has some good moments. It does go into the darker side of colonial history in South America quite alot and gives it from a unique perspective.
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Posted June 17, 2012
Col. Percy Fawcett’s Exploration Fawcett: Journey to the Lost City of Z
An Adventure on Paper
If you have ever been to Disneyland and ridden the Jungle Cruise ride, you have likely experienced the same feeling of adventure that this book instills in its reader. Exploration Fawcett follows the many trails blazed through the rivers and rain forests of South America by Colonel Percy H. Fawcett, an ex-British Army officer and land surveyor during the first quarter of the 20th century. This is an actual account formulated from the journals, logbooks, notes, and records of Col. Fawcett by his son, Brian Fawcett. It is a book of high adventure, discovery, extreme danger, near starvation, tragedy, and of a mystery that lasts to this day . . . the fate of Col. Fawcett’s last expedition to find the fabled Lost City of Z.
The book opens with several stories that kindle the flames of those readers with an adventurous spirit. The first of these stories tells of the Lost Mines of Muribeca, a tale from the early years of Portuguese exploration of the continent about the search for hidden precious metal mines of an ancient civilization. It also contains an account from a 18th century Portuguese explorer named Raposo, who’s crew supposedly stumbled upon an ancient city of stone while attempting to escape from the thick jungles of Brazil.
It then goes on to describe the life of Percy Fawcett and how he came to be assigned as royal surveyor to settle border disputes between several South American countries. It takes you right on the heels of Col. Fawcett’s early surveyor years, as he discovers first hand the perils of the harsh Amazonian Rainforests. It reveals the relationships forged between him and the people of the numerous different indigenous tribes. His description of his first trip to La Paz and across Lake Titicaca high in the Andes is especially teasing to the adventurer-at-heart (I myself am so intrigued that I personally vowed to visit La Paz in the future). It is during this visit to La Paz and the surrounding mountains that Col. Fawcett gets his first glimpse of an ancient advanced civilization, well before the Inca that dominated the continent, in the stone ruins that dot the countryside.
When Col. Fawcett first arrives on the continent he knew nothing of the cities of these ancient peoples and the legends surrounding them. As he gains experience surviving in this humid landscape, his journals begin to reveal the clues that poke at Col. Fawcett’s curiosity as well as the reader’s. There is so much zigzagging through the region that is difficult to keep up with the names of all the rivers, villages and tribes. There is, however, a map drawn by his son that helps the reader follow along on each of his many journeys.
Col. Fawcett’s last journal entry ends with his intent to embark on what would be his final expedition: to find the Lost City of Z. His son, Brian, then takes over for the remainder of the novel, spelling out his personal quest to determine the fate of his father’s final journey. Brian investigates the numerous possible outcomes of that final excursion, exploring the rumors and questionable accounts of people who claim to have seen the Colonel since his departure. Brian zealously hunts for the truth behind his Father’s disappearance. Was it death by the poisoned arrows of native savages, being taken hostage by them? Or was the expedition a secret success and their fate was that of kings reigning over their lost city kingd