The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon

by David Grann
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The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 161 reviews.
LN_Adcox More than 1 year ago
This book revives a once popular figure that time had reduced to obscurity - Percy Harrison Fawcett. It describes his early explorations in parts of Bolivia, Brazil and Peru - usually just referred to as "the Amazon". It describes what is known of Fawcett's last exploration to find El Dorado as well as expeditions by others to find El Dorado or to discover the fate of Fawcett, his son Jack, and his son's friend Raleigh. Part of the attraction of the book is the presentation of the unique character of Fawcett. He proves that truth can be stranger than fiction. Fawcett was tougher than the fictitious Indiana Jones although Fawcett maintained the way to survive attacks by the most hostile natives was to refuse to fight them. He and his handful of companions in all but his final journey survived almost unbelievable odds and hardships through his mental and physical strength. It was obvious that Fawcett could be admired from a distance, but was probably justifiably seen as insensitive, obsessed and ruthless by his traveling companions. Part of the attraction of the book is the reconstruction of the era of the amateur, gentleman explorer, the public's fascination with them, and the Royal Geographical Society and similar organizations that funded them. The book also dispelled some of the romantic notions about expeditions to the Amazon. I might be willing to subject myself to the stereotyped hardships - heat, thirst, hunger, snakes, crocodiles, violent natives and even piranhas. However, after reading about the hordes of bloodthirsty mosquitoes, gnats, bees, ants and termites intent on leaving victims gory and blind, gruesome flies that plant maggots beneath the skin, and horrific vampire bats that swoop down in packs to rip flesh open, I was left amazed that anyone that had somehow survived such horror once would be willing to face it again. The reader is somewhat discouraged throughout the book as the ending appears to be apparent. The obvious assumption is that Fawcett's luck finally ran out and he and his party were violently killed by hostile natives. Also El Dorado obviously was never found or the discovery would have been heralded. The author's determination to discover the actual route of the Fawcett party leads to a surprise ending that justifies Fawcett's obsession and his revival from obscurity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am just a quarter through this excellent nonfiction, and I find that it easily explains through its wonderful writings the difference between the more honorable geographical explorers such as Fawcett (who was backed by the British Royal Georgraphic Society) compared to the Conquistadors such as Aguirre backed by Euroimperials. With Fawcett, the concept of "Z" (El Dorado) being a more anthrolopological expedition (rather than just metallic gold) to prove without doubt that human intelligence can exist and flourish within the deepest jungle (as opposed to the suggestion that primitivism as a result of some sort of human breakdown by the jungle can only exist). (The anthropological cultural significance can be compared to the current Coe's writings in their "The True History of Chocolate" where they found evidence that during the imperial time period, that the indigenous South Americans were as the Coe's wrote "light years" ahead of Europeans in the areas of medicine/botanics due to Europeans hanging on to ancient Greek medicinal codes). Fawcett's quest for "Z" a "City of Gold" was a search to prove that there is a highly advanced civilization in the deepest jungles. Of course, to find such a civilization or even a real city of gold, would be a treacherous undertaking as in mythological comparisions, or by the realities of learning to survive in a foreign place, a dense jungle, and with deadly obstacles brought in from the outside, or rather nearer to his own home country and other parts of Europe. The book suggests that during Fawcett's times, intelligence was seen as a culture that could create planes and trains, something beyond the normal scope of every day life. However, it is noted that some during that time period also believed an advanced culture such as "Z" could not be seen by those much less intelligent. (This is probably why they expected Fawcett could find it as he was supposed to be quite smart with some sort of patented technology he created to increase pace for the shipping industry). Fawcett propbably thought he would find "Z" since he took his son on the expedition. "The Lost City of Z" also gives quite a background of Fawcett and his culture as well as what was going on in the areas of his explorations such as the notorious rubber industry in South America. I had for the first time I can remember a dream that was influenced by a book. I actually had a dream regarding "The Lost City of Z" that caused me to further understand the explorers view and obsession with finding an advanced civilization, and that it probably may exist, though I would not try to find it. It is a book that really helps one understand a lot of issues including cultural issues, and the search for something enlightening. I am looking forward to reading the rest of this book. It is one of the best books I have ever read. Other interesting readings related to this: "Tears of the Tree: The Story of Rubber: A Modern Marvel" by John Loadman (Oxford University Press, 2005)
KrisPA More than 1 year ago
This is a great read. Grann has written the type of nonfiction book that I like the most--he has all these little side stories and interesting tidbits of history that are extra information but still fit the main subject of the story. I enjoyed all of it--the history of Percy Fawcett (who sounds like a hell of a guy), the investigation by the author, the detailed accounts of all the nasty bugs and animals there (the flesh-eating maggots had to be the worst). This is a great adventure/mystery book. I enjoyed the information about the archaelogical finds in the Amazon and Grann even touched on the deforestation of the Amazon without sounding preachy or crazy. This is a good book, lots of details, and I had a hard time putting it down.
TrishNYC More than 1 year ago
This book chronicles the quest of Percy Harrison Fawcett to find the lost city of El Dorado which he nicknamed the city of Z. Fawcett had been told of a legendary city so "enormously rich in gold-so much so as to blaze like a fire". This began his life long obsession to find this mythical place. He embarked on his first South American expedition when he was commissioned by the Royal Geographic Society to map the border between Bolivia and Brazil. It was an arduous trip but he surprised everyone by completing the task in half the estimated time. He later embarked on a mission to find the source of the Rio Verde. It was a hellish trip where he and his crew were ravaged by insects, a brutal trek through the forest and biting hunger. At a certain point in the journey, they were forced to do away with all but the basic necessities. They even abandoned any food that they could not immediately carry believing that they would be able to live off the land, it was after all the forest and they assumed that it would be teeming with animals they could hunt and eat. But they discover to their dismay that this forest was inhospitable. The trees drained all the nutrients out of the soil leaving the jungle floor in almost total darkness. Animals avoided the jungle floor and Fawcett and his team found themselves hungry most of the time. But upon returning home from this ordeal he was soon restless again. He said " It was the voice of the wild places and I knew that it was now a part of me forever. Inexplicably, amazing, I knew I loved that hell. Its fiendish grasp had captured me and I wanted to see it again". Of all the expeditions that Fawcett would embark on, the search for Z would be his most important. He researched and gathered information that he believed supported his theory of Z and after he secured some funding he again set off for the Amazon. He took with him his son Jack and Jack's best friend Raleigh Rimmel. They received a rousing sendoff from the world's media and were treated like celebrities everywhere they went. But once they reached the Amazon and had sent out a few communiques, they were never heard from again. After the disappearance of the Fawcett party, many initiatives were launched to find them or news of them. Some who survived came back with tales of Fawcett's death by Indians, some said he had been kidnapped by Indians. Some even claimed that there was evidence that Fawcett had indeed found Z. There was even a purported sighting of a child believed to be Jack Fawcett's son. Someone even claimed to have found Fawcett's bones which later turned out to be the bones of a long dead Indian. This story is fascinating in all its essentials. Its heartbreakingly sad how this man was so consumed by the idea of this city that he followed it to his and his family's destruction. Regardless of how he met his end, we can tell that it was most likely not a happy one. He left behind a wife who died in extreme poverty, a son who continued to seek his father's approval by trying to continue his father's work and a daughter who never got to know her father. It is impossible not to admire many aspects of Fawcett's personality. He was a very hard worker, he was undeterred by the constant rejection that he faced in his search to achieve this goal and he serves as a model for never giving up. But in this case, never giving up proves to be his greatest undoing as passion became obsession very quickly. Amazing read that enlig
QuetziXica12 More than 1 year ago
I read this book when it first came out & I just couldn't put it down! Even though the main characters are real people, this book reads like a Suspense Novel! I sat up to the wee hours of the morning until I finished reading this book. I couldn't stop reading until I found out everything that happened! David Grann talks about the Amazon with such passion that you can't help but feeling like you are right there inside the pages of this book. It's a "must read!"
Sabin More than 1 year ago
A great mix of the past and present. I found Grann's writing style very absorbing and very hard to put down! You not only get to follow the steps of a famous explorer lost long ago, but also get to follow the author as he searches for clues to what happened to Fawcett and if his lost city in South America can be found. This is pretty much a true adventure book! I really could picture myself with both Fawcett and Grann fighting my way through jungles of the past. It would make a great book to take on a backpacking, camping, hiking trip!
Hack More than 1 year ago
The classic story of one man acting on his beliefs and going against the traditional thinking of his time. It was very rewarding to learn that Colonel Fawcett was correct in his beliefs about about civilization in the Amazon. This book made me realize how the traditionalist thinking of government and academia resist the advancement of knowledge to preserve their invested positions and beliefs. Mankind's knowledge advances despite these institutions due to the courage of individuals that are willing to go against the conventional and traditional thinking promoted by these instigutions. A VERY good read!
Twink More than 1 year ago
Subtitled: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon -- Who hasn't watched the movies where an explorer or adventurer discovers a lost world or civilization? I personally am fascinated by the whole idea that there may still be some untouched or unfound something out there. The Lost City of Z isn't fiction - it's an incredible true story. In 1925 famed explorer Percy Fawcett set out to find the fabled city of El Dorado or as he referred to it - The Lost City of Z. Dispatches were sent back documenting his journey for the first two years, but then he and his expedition vanished - no trace of them ever to be heard of again. Many others followed, looking for Fawcett or his golden city. None have ever found it. David Grann, a staff writer for the New Yorker magazine, became enthralled with Fawcett's story as well. Grann discovers some of Fawcett's old journals that give him additional information on Fawcett's planned expedition. He decides to head to the Amazon himself and trace the explorer's route. What follows is an absolutely riveting tale. The history of Fawcett and other adventurers bent on mapping and mastering the Amazon is utterly fascinating. The book alternates between Fawcett's time, drawing on newspapers, journals and letters to present a real picture of his time and Grann's own growing obsession and pilgrimage. I had to keep reminding myself that this was real - documented history. I honestly couldn't put it down. Does he discover what happened to Fawcett and his lost party - well I'll leave that for you to explore. Brad Pitt is rumoured to be starring in a film version of The Lost City of Z coming out in 2010.
SeattleSlackkey More than 1 year ago
Well written with an excellent pace despite a barrage of factoids and dates, this well researched book provides a peek into the psyche and motivations of all those individuals that call themselves "explorers". Structured around a biography of the mysterious disappearance of British explorer Percy Fawcett while searching for the lost city of Z, the author does a great job of weaving the culture and prevailing thinking of the times and the mystery of the wilderness around the Amazon River.
ilikegoodbooks More than 1 year ago
This is a great story and yes it was well written and keeps the reader turning the pages, but there was too much about grann's personal expedition into the jungle, that to me got in the way of the what should have been the main Fawcett story. The payoff of what grann's reports as the possible Lost City of Z is not believable to me, but that is my personal opinion. I wan to read a book that actually discovers the Lost City of Z. I want to find out out exactly what the lights that never went out were. Something that Grann doesn't achieve in his book. But all may not, like the City of Z, be lost, as a new book called Amazon Adventure by Ben Hammott is due for release shortly. (Fiction) The book actually continues Fawcett's journey into the jungle from Dead Horse Camp, Fawcett's last known possession, to reach the Lost City and to go inside. If handle well it should be a good read. I have read Hammott's previous book, Lost Tomb of the Knights Templar, it was one of my best reads of 2009, so I have no doubt that Hammott's Amazon Adventure will do the story justice.
iluvvideo More than 1 year ago
A meticulously researched chronicle of Colonel Percy Fawcett and his many expeditions into the Amazon at the turn of the century. He was an extraordinary man; a quick learner, possessor of an iron will, steely determination and an unrivaled confidence in his abilities. He truly went where none had gone before. This is the story of his education by the Royal Geographic Society, his many expeditions into the Amazon jungles, and finally his search for the spectacular Lost City of Z. It tells of his family, colleagues and later the researchers who tried to find him and any trace of his final lost expedition. You get the feeling that you are step in step with Fawcett in his travels, with occasional insights into the how and why of his world. Later, the author, a non-traveler, takes his own journey to the Amazon jungle to try and follow Fawcett and possibly find out definitively what became of him. Does he succeed? It's well worth the time to find out!
EttaProse More than 1 year ago
"The Lost City of Z" is a very intriguing book. It is a book that is difficult to put down. But you had better be sure you have the stomach for it. If you can't take reading about the excruciating agony caused by "the "vampire fish of Brazil" (the candiru), that finds its way into human orifices (e.g. anus, penis or vagina) and "latches on irrevocably" to drink the blood of its victim... or maggots growing inside human flesh that peek out occasionally (to get their bearings?)... then you'd better forget this one. I must say, though page turner that this book is, I grew very weary of the famous Percy Harrison Fawcett's obsession. And angry that he dragged his wife, his son (and others) down with him. The wind up , by David Grann, however, was very satisfying.
hasenbusch More than 1 year ago
Percy Fawcett was an explorer who went in search of a city of gold in the Amazon. He died at the age of 57 when he, his son, and his son's best friend went deeper and farther into the Amazon than anyone else. This story is better than Indiana Jones and more horrific. The mosquitoes, bugs, insects, animals, disease was atrocious. Piranhhas and another water but that would enter a person's rectum or enter the penis would be shear torture and a horribly way to die. Insects would penetrate eyes and lips and there would be no end to this even with netting and tight fitting clothing. In addition natives and tribes of all kinds were hostile and Percy Fawcett had a way to show a sign of peace. Percy entered the war and saw hundreds and hundreds of men die in battle piled one on one. After Percy never returned there were hundreds more people trying to find him and the lost city of z and died tryihg. This is a book I couldn't put down. I read 300 pages the first night and the second 300 pages the next night. It's the best book I've ever read right up there with Robert E. Howard's works. If you never read another book in your life you've got to read this one. Believe me you'll never forget this book. I believe it's going to be made into a movie and might have Brad Pitt star in it. This is what I heard through the grapevine. Enjoy and don't even think about doing what Percy Fawcett did.
silverfox67 More than 1 year ago
A well-written, although sometimes hard to follow, account of the attempts by British explorer, Percy Fawcett, to find the location of an ancient city that was supposedly inhabited by an advanced and very wealthy Indian civilization. His efforts are reported by the book's author, David Grann, who attempts to track Fawcett's last journey into the Amazon river region of Brazil where Fawcett and his companion were lost and never heard from again. The descriptions of Fawcett's courage, determination and perseverance are remarkable and mark him as a truly special person. He was also strongly supported in every way by his wife who, to her death many years after his disappearance, never gave up hope that her husband was still alive and would someday return. A good adventure story that provided an insight into the mentality of those who risk their lives and suffer greatly while trying to increase the world's knowledge of little-known places and societies.
readeranna More than 1 year ago
Highly recommended... a great mix of adventure, history, and biography. Very well researched and I loved learning about not only Fawcett but other explorers from the late 18th/early 19th century. Very well written as well.
grumpydan More than 1 year ago
I never heard of the British explorer Percy Fawcett before picking up this book. But I learned so much about him and the obsession as the many followers who either tried to locate the missing explorer in the Amazon jungle or theorize what had become of him. David Grann did a wonderful job of researching this individual and has written a straight forward history of the man and his mission. He has also made it exciting as he tries to make the same journey into the Amazon and records his own tales and findings. This is a very interesting book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A adventure
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Drove a jeep into town full of amo. I get out and went to find food and suplize.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Buzzy88 More than 1 year ago
I chose to read this when I heard about it on a program called Science Friday. It was absorbing, frightening, fascinating, and in some ways horrifying. I really wanted to keep reading beyond the end. It's a tale about obsession but I was also obsessed about reading it. I do not, however, EVER want to go to the Amazon.
MikeGubata More than 1 year ago
Great read. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A gripping tale of adventure with lots of history about the early english explorers of the geographical society.
mljackson More than 1 year ago
excellent historical account.