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Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett was the last of a breed of great British explorers who ventured into 'blank spots' on the map with little more than a machete, a compass and unwavering sense of purpose. In 1925, one of the few remaining blank spots in the world was in the Amazon. Fawcett believed the impenetrable jungle held a secret to a large, complex civilization like El Dorado, which he christened the 'City of Z'. When he and his son set out to find it, hoping to make one of the most important archeological discoveries in history, they warned that none should follow them in the event that they did not return. They vanished without a trace. For the next eighty years, hordes of explorers -- shocked that a man many deemed invincible could disappear in a land he knew better than anyone, and drawn by the centuries-old myth of El Dorado -- searched for the expedition and the city. Many died from starvation, disease, attacks by wild animals, and poisonous arrows. Others simply vanished.

In The Lost City of Z, David Grann ventures into the hazardous wild world of the Amazon to retrace the footsteps of the great Colonel Fawcett and his followers, in a bracing attempt to solve one of the greatest mysteries. It is an irresistibly readable adventure story, a subtle examination of the strange and often violent encounters between Europeans and Amazonian tribes and a tale of lethal obsession.

Topics: Colonialism

Published: Simon & Schuster UK on
ISBN: 9781847378057
List price: $13.99
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A gripping, true adventure story.more
Ahhh, a nerd book for history nerds. Anyone who knows me will know that I have never professed a desire to head into the Amazon and embark on a months long quest to find a lost city. First off, my hair would be incredibly greasy AND I'd be able to grow a mustache that would rival anything on an explorer from the 1920s. Second, I'm not a super great adventurer or camper and bugs are gross. However, this book made me want to be the kind of person who did go on those types of trips... an excellent departure from the literature I generally read.

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Possibly not the best book to read in the jungle, with its explicit descriptions of all the terrible things jungle bugs might be doing to or laying in you right now, but a terrifically engaging read. About the hunt for the mythical city of El Dorado.more
I love travel and adventure and ancient civiliations so a real-life journey is a must-read for me. It is amazing how many people had invested time, money and, in some cases, their lives to search for a group that people said shouldn't have gone in the first place. Maybe if those people had helped fund the expedition they wouldn't have gone missing. Or as some conspiracies say maybe he wanted to go missing.

But there's a part of me that would have also wanted to rush out looking for him. And that's the part that believes in the lost city of Z. Not the city of gold or the gilded man but the ancient civilization of the Amazon. The people and cities the original European explorers reported that were never seen again. And which science and archaeologists are finally confirming as being real. I would love to join the digs in South America, maybe one day I will.

So why only 4 stars? The book is too short. I know it was originally written as an article and then extended but it was over too quick. I was really getting into the story and the discoveries when it finished. Now I'll have to find more books on the subject.more
I alternated between being riveted and disgusted/horrified by this book. I listened to the audiobook in my car, so I couldn't skim the gross bits. It's quite the armchair travel read about Major Percy Fawcett, famous intrepid British explorer of the Amazon back in Victorian times. Man of iron constitution, kind of an a**hole to those of weaker constitution (and I relate more toward the weak), apparently very charming and good looking as well. Thoroughly obsessive. Must! Explore!

It's an interesting depiction of the state of explorations at the time and of a Victorian man; very contradictory aspects of self, but then times were rapidly changing. Fawcett disappeared in the 1920s on an expedition to find the fabled El Dorado-ish lost city of "Z" as Fawcett dubbed it, and author David Grann tries to find out what might have happened to him and whether there might be a Z. He's not the only one, an amazing number of people have died over the years trying to find Fawcett. At first I was blithely enjoying it, thinking of how much fun an expedition might be, and then the maggots and the vampire bats struck. Not to mention the sweat bees in eye pupils and diseases and bacterial ailments and murderous Indian tribes. Not that I blame the Indians; the horrific treatment they received from rubber baron companies and other whites is also detailed in this book. My god, I'm never traveling to the Amazon! These explorers were insane. Oh, the maggots. Grann's adventure is not as fascinating, but it provides an interesting denouement and depiction of how the Amazon is changing.

I liked it as much as Candace Millard's River of Doubt, about Teddy Roosevelt's trip where he traveled a previously unknown Amazon river - also a fairly disastrous trip - but if a patron had a weaker stomach and more of a taste for wildlife description, I'd point them toward Millard's book first.more
This was totally a fun book. On the one hand, I got really into the romance of tromping through the jungle looking for El Dorado. On the other hand, gangrene. So I was definitely grateful that I could enjoy the mystery from the comfort of my couch.

I found the alternating chapters a little jarring, and the author's adventure didn't really hold my interest until the very end, but it didn't detract much from the book, and the device justified itself towards the end, where we actually get something that feels like closure. The stories of all of the people sucked in to the drama are almost as good as that of the Fawcett himself - not just his wife, slowly going mad back home, but all the people who plunged into the Amazon after him, and the con artists claiming they'd found him, or his half-native grandson, or his bones.

Totally an engrossing (and often gross) read.more
A celebrity of his time, explorer Percy Fawcett’s last adventure was deep into the Amazon. Along with him on the trip was his son, Jack, and his son’s best friend, Raleigh Rimell. The trio were never heard from again.

Author David Grann retells their story, with the events that led up to their expedition and the tales of the many who went in search of them. Despite the promise of adventure and all the hype surrounding this book, I didn’t get into it. Grann’s background is in journalism and it shows: much of the book felt like an overly extended article in the Wall Street Journal. The backstory dragged on until I was bored. When it finally picked up the pace, it was nearly over.

I understand some of the appeal found in this book. Primarily, there is an unsolved mystery. Further, there is a journalist who takes great strides in research and “front-line” journalism to get at the heart of the story. Admittedly, Fawcett’s story should be told and Grann was a great choice to do it. I would argue, however, that it would be a much better read as a concise five-part story in a popular newspaper or journal. As it is stands, The Lost City of Z is an arduous trek through an uncharted jungle of boredom which a reader does not hope to become lost in.more
While I didn't like this as much as the Devil and Sherlock Holmes, it was still a great read. I was, though, a little disappointed there wasn't more on Heckenberger's discovery, but it's nothing I can't look up myself.more
This book came highly recommended to me. It was fascinating to find out about the history of the Amazon exploration attempts. I don't understand why anyone would willingly put themselves through these horrific circumstances... insects infesting your body, man-eating fish, cannibals and a whole host of other horrors.No thank you!more
Great book in which the author reenacts Colonel Fawcett's trip to the Amazon to discover the supposed Lost City of Z. Why did this guy keep going back to the unexplored Amazon?more
This is a terrific non-fiction book from start to finish. Written from the perspective of a writer about to retrace the 1925 lost expedition of Percy Fawcett, it incorporates Fawcett's obsession with finding a lost city in the Amazon that he has no information about other than having convinced himself it exists. The author smoothly transitions from Fawcett's time to the present and back including historical perspectives of the late 19th, early 20th century. If you've listened to or read 1492, you're familiar with how the New World Indians were considerably more numerous and their culture more advanced until the Europeans arrived with new diseases that decimated their populations. That's wrapped into the interesting conclusion. It's an adventure, an education and provides great insight into the Green Hell of the Amazon.more
This was a good read about the exploration of the Amazon and all that it entails - from the horrors of the conquistadors and the slavery brought by Western manufacturers to present-day archaeological research, all wrapped around the story of a lost explorer named Colonel Fawcett. This is a huge topic, and the narrative is, as such, hard to follow in a precisely linear fashion - at times it became a bit too jumpy for me - but it worked in the end and I found the entire book overall very satisfying and worth reading. As a personal note I was also glad that the author noted in an after-piece that all direct quotes, "even from explorers lost in the jungle," come from primary sources. Unattributed sourcing of quotations that could never have been uttered or found is incredibly bothersome and, while I never felt that any hanky-panky was being pulled while I was reading the book, seeing it explicitly addressed made me very happy.more
And I thought after reading The Climb that people who climbed mountains were crazy... but after reading The Lost City of Z, the Amazon explorers make Everest climbers look like children on a playground. Grann's narrative is just as compelling as any work of fiction -- for most of the book, the chapters alternate between Grann's present-day investigations into the explorer Fawcett's disappearance, Fawcett's explorations, and the journey of a more recent explorer into the Amazon.Throughout the book, Grann includes writings from Fawcett and other explorers, historical information on the exploration of the Amazon, and analysis of present-day investigations into Fawcett's disappearance and his unwavering belief in a lost city in the middle of the jungle.I also appreciated that the book includes extensive notes on each chapter, and an enormous, comprehensive bibliography. I found the subject so intriguing that I plan to mine Grann's bibliography for additional resources on Amazonian exploration and the travels of Fawcett. Admittedly, my favorite part of the book was the information on the various diseases, parasites, and other dangers in the jungle, as well as commentary on the various tribes living there (and encountered by Fawcett and other explorers). It's unbelievable how many people ventured into the jungle looking for El Dorado and/or Fawcett's Z and lost their lives... hundreds of people, sometimes vanishing without a trace. I'm compelled to know more, and I think this was an excellent place to start with the subject.I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this to anyone!more
Excellent non-fiction work on the last of the Victorian explorers, Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett and how his obsession with the Amazon and its secrets shaped and ultimately claimed his life. Along the way, the author examines how the Amazon forest has been viewed by outsiders over time and how current scholarship is changing how historians and anthropologists view its history and peoples. Great book.more
So much non-fiction can be so dry even when the topic is of interest. That is why I love when non-fiction reads like a novel and this did just that. Contrary to others' reviews, I enjoyed the author's foray into the same land as Fawcett, not only physically but mentally as well. I plowed through the second half of the book in one sitting because I was so anxious to learn if Fawcett found what he was looking for as well as if Grann did the same. I was not disappointed with the end. A great read!more
This book alternates between a biography of the South American explorer Percy Fawcett and a first person account of the author's attempts to follow in his footsteps. Fawcet went missing when on a quest to find the "Lost City of Z," his version of Eldorado, deep in the Amazon. About 80 years later David Grann tells the story of his quest to follow the story of Fawcett -- from archives in London to the deepest Amazon -- in the first person.Anyone who has read 1491 knows the ending of this book. But even with that minimal suspense, the book is riveting in parts but repetitive in others. The first description of bees that stung your eyes or maggots that buried in your flesh was chilling. The 100th, less so. Much of the book is clearly necessary and illuminates the end of the age of non-scientific explorers. But other parts of the book appear more like padding than an essential part of the narrative.Overall, a quick read and recommended.more
In 1925, Amazonian explorer Percy Fawcett went on an expedition with his son, Jack, and Jack's friend, Raleigh Rimell. They were seeking a sort of El Dorado, what Fawcett termed the city of "Z," a place many in his time believed was mythical. For several months, family and newspapers received communiques - and then, nothing. Many bands of explorers have since gone in search of Fawcett, but none were successful. Intrigued by the mystery, David Grann started researching Fawcett and his obsession with "Z." Grann intersperses a biography of Fawcett with his own search for answers, first through historical documents and then through a visit to the Amazon himself. Fawcett is a fascinating man to learn about, a complex character who on the one hand is a product of his times, growing up in Victorian society, and on the other was a bit of a maverick. I'm not sure I can fully understand the sort of all-consuming passion and obsession that would lead one to drive into the Amazonian jungle and make geological observations, let alone search out a city that many scientists of the day didn't believe existed. I found the dual narratives jarring at first, especially in the beginning when both stories sort of started in the middle, and then backtracked, but once I was a few chapters in, I adjusted and really enjoyed the narrative.more
Non-fiction novel detailing the obsessive search for the City of Z by Victorian British explorer Percy Fawcett. One of my rarer digs into non-fiction. All in all a good read I especially like the ending.more
Fascinating! Reads like a novel.more
In the 1920s exploration into unknown lands was still incredibly popular. In this nonfiction tale, Grann tells the story of three men who headed off on the adventure of a life time. They went to the Amazon to find a fabled lost city, which they call “Z.” They’re never heard from again. The party included Percy Fawcett, his son and another man, all of whom disappeared in 1925. Grann follows in the footsteps of dozens of others, who have all searched for any sign of what happened to them. The book is wonderfully written and hard to put down. The story is part mystery and part adventure novel. Grann’s own experiences don’t overshadow Fawcett’s story, but instead they add to the reader’s understanding of what the man must have gone through. The Amazon is full of hundreds of life-threatening elements, including the bugs, Oh my gosh the bugs, there are mosquitoes, blood-sucking gnats, sweat bees and more. There are also huge snakes, tribes of cannibals, diseases in the water and more. Part of my fascination with the book was bred not from a desire to go there, but to understand the people who were driven to explore that intimidating terrain. This book is exactly how I like my nonfiction. It’s fascinating to read, I’m learning about a subject I have limited knowledge of, but it doesn’t overload me with unnecessary details. It was just right and I loved all the literary connections the story has (with King Solomon’s Minds and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle).  more
Could not put it down. Read this at all possible pauses from heads up life. Fascinating story, perfectly paced, expertly edited.more
this is a wonderfully written history/adventure story. it reads like fiction but it all true. i loved this book.more
In 1925 Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett and his expedition party (including his son) entered the Amazon in search of The Lost City of El Dorado and never returned. Countless lives have been lost searching for them and for the fabled, mysterious and of course very rich lost city.I did enjoy this book. It's an easy read about a fascinating and vivid period of history. The author starts off well, setting the scene and evoking the furore of a trip to discover the lost city. He then slowly weaves his tale to follow in Fawcett's footsteps and at first these two stories balance well.Sadly after about 1/3 of the way through cracks started to show, partly through boredom as I am slightly familiar with the period but also (and I can't believe I am going to say this) it was really too much like an adventure story and.. well .. real life isn't just like that. Take for example the authors comic, naive bumbling organising his trip to the Amazon, amusing at first but it soon feels so contrived. I am presuming it's true.. but it *doesn't* feel true and loosing faith in the author is always a bad signAlso neither story lives up to their promise. Fawcett's tale because of the way his story is presented. For me his flaws were address so late in the book, that the reality of obsessive, poverty stricken, ego-maniac doesn't sit well with the beginning. Yes it's supposed be a nice bit of juxtaposition but I simply found it a tad irritating. Then theres the authors story which oddly never managed to be that evocative, odd because he does manage to bring Fawcett's trek alive. I know not much happened but seeing the Amazon from the everyman should of been much more fun than it was.Oh there are other things wrong with the book but to be honest it's just nitpicking and I did enjoy this book, (no really) but I was heartedly disappointed. Others have given this book rave reviews and I do recommend it for anyone who loves a sense of adventure but maybe go and read The Lost World instead, much more fun :)more
An extraordinary book! This non-fiction book reads like fiction. It is story about the fate of Percy Fawcett - a British explorer in the early 20th century convinced that the Amazon hid a large, advanced and lost civilization. Grann painstakingly tracks his expeditions and uses access to family correspondence and diaries to track Fawcett to his final, mysterious disappearance. Soon Fawcett's obsession becomes Grann's, and our reward is this engrossing tale. Contains some pretty cringe-worthy descriptions of Amazon bugs, animals and diseases.more
I was fascinated by the number of explorers who followed Fawcett in search of nailing his fate. His whole dream of "Lost City of Z" seemed to fit in with fictional magical realism, but then with today's modern-day technology, it becomes more a true-life possibility. I wrote down some of the author's references to literature and movies. An interesting tale. I want to read "River of Doubt" about Teddy Roosevelt's exploration of the Amazon, which I have heard is a fabulous book, to compare the two. I was giving "Lost City of Z" 3.5 stars until the last chapter, which was incredibly compelling.more
This book is non-fiction but you’d never guess it. To say it reads like fiction isn’t exactly right either. It’s an adventure story on steroids and it’s all true. It’s mainly the story of British explorer Percy Fawcett and his exploration of the Amazon jungle in the early 1900s. Told through Fawcett’s letters and journals, as well as those of his companions on his missions, the author does a terrific job putting you right there in the jungle with Fawcett, being eaten alive by deadly mosquitoes, watching as maggots drill into your skin, seeing your emaciated companions and realizing that you’re all slowly starving to death in the beastly heat, all while you look out for Indians bearing deadly arrows that may be coming your way.On his last mission, in 1925, Fawcett, his son Jack and Jack’s friend Raleigh try once more to find the elusive El Dorado, or as Fawcett called it, Z. They never return. The book chronicles the attempts made to rescue the three men, and then, when it was apparent that they were lost forever, the continual obsession by some to find Fawcett’s bones, including the author in 2005. These people were known as ‘Fawcett Freaks.’Even though Fawcett’s trek through the jungle was the primary thrust of the book, I was very taken in by the part Fawcett’s wife, Nina, played. The lonely wife, left behind for years at a time, she was a loyal supporter of her husband, even though he left her destitute with three children to raise on her own. She was so used, by her husband and his obsession with Z, and yet she felt she played an important role in his explorations.Beautifully written, meticulously researched, this is a book not to be missed. Very highly recommended.more
What a great book! It will interest history buffs, those who enjoy mysteries, and those intrigued with characters who subject themselves to horrific circumstances for the sake of a quest. The author writes for the New Yorker, which means the writing is fluid.The author studies explorations of the Amazon basin, especially in the time of British explorer Percy Fawcett, who disappeared in the Amazon with his son in 1925. Fawcett was one of the final "solo" explorers of his time, and his interest was a land area little known by Europeans: the Amazon basin. Growing increasingly unbalanced with age, Fawcett's final expedition was in search of Z, or El Dorado, an ancient site hidden in the Amazon rain forest representing the richness of a past civilization. Although fervid European imagination about such a place far outran reality, modern archaeological findings do suggest the presence of astonishing Amazonian cities in the not so distant past.Beginning in 1908 Fawcett undertook several Amazon treks, particularly in the border areas between Bolivia, Brazil, and Peru. Some of these are recreated in vivid, sweaty detail by the author. I couldn't take my eyes off the page in the descriptions of insect attacks, maggot infestations, sloughing flesh, tiny bees boring into the eyes, starvation, fevers, and so on. I could scarcely believe that the author, who so deeply details the horrors involved, and who apparently had never been on a camping trip, undertook a journey to the Amazon on his own quest for Fawcett's fate. This book is captivating.There are copious footnotes, a detailed bibliography, some blurry photographs, maps, and an index.more
Concept of the book is substantially better than the read. Not as exciting as you might expect.more
Themes: obsession, exploration, man vs. environment, nasty ways to dieSetting: the Amazon, 1920s and present dayNoted explorer and Royal Geographic Society member Percy Fawcett set off to find the lost city of Z in the Amazon jungle with his oldest son and the son's best friend in 1925. They made good time, were in good spirits. Then they disappeared.Various groups set off to find him. Some of THEM disappeared, some were killed, but no one had any luck. Now journalist David Grann is ready to look again.The subtitle of this book is "A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon," and that is a very good description of the story. Fawcett was completely obsessed with the Amazon, going back again and again. He pushed himself relentlessly and had no time for anyone who couldn't keep up the pace. He himself had an amazing constitution, but for most of the folks, the jungle is not a friendly place. Not even counting the predators, the bad water, the heat, and the lack of food, the number of nasty bugs waiting to infest your body is staggering and disgusting. Even a paper cut would attract maggots in no time. Flies and biting bugs are everywhere. Why on earth anyone would want to visit once, let alone come back for more, is completely beyond me. But it makes for compelling reading.Then the obsession spreads to Grann himself. The most recent in a long line of people chasing after the ghost of Fawcett, he is a rather unlikely explorer. He had never been to the jungle, didn't even like camping. He had no gear and no idea what to take. But he wouldn't give up on this story. I won't spoil the ending, but the book is absolutely worth the read. 4.5 starsmore
I really enjoyed learning about Fawcett and becoming an explorer in the victorian age, he was an amazing guy, but the ending was not what I had hoped for.more
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Reviews

A gripping, true adventure story.more
Ahhh, a nerd book for history nerds. Anyone who knows me will know that I have never professed a desire to head into the Amazon and embark on a months long quest to find a lost city. First off, my hair would be incredibly greasy AND I'd be able to grow a mustache that would rival anything on an explorer from the 1920s. Second, I'm not a super great adventurer or camper and bugs are gross. However, this book made me want to be the kind of person who did go on those types of trips... an excellent departure from the literature I generally read.

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Possibly not the best book to read in the jungle, with its explicit descriptions of all the terrible things jungle bugs might be doing to or laying in you right now, but a terrifically engaging read. About the hunt for the mythical city of El Dorado.more
I love travel and adventure and ancient civiliations so a real-life journey is a must-read for me. It is amazing how many people had invested time, money and, in some cases, their lives to search for a group that people said shouldn't have gone in the first place. Maybe if those people had helped fund the expedition they wouldn't have gone missing. Or as some conspiracies say maybe he wanted to go missing.

But there's a part of me that would have also wanted to rush out looking for him. And that's the part that believes in the lost city of Z. Not the city of gold or the gilded man but the ancient civilization of the Amazon. The people and cities the original European explorers reported that were never seen again. And which science and archaeologists are finally confirming as being real. I would love to join the digs in South America, maybe one day I will.

So why only 4 stars? The book is too short. I know it was originally written as an article and then extended but it was over too quick. I was really getting into the story and the discoveries when it finished. Now I'll have to find more books on the subject.more
I alternated between being riveted and disgusted/horrified by this book. I listened to the audiobook in my car, so I couldn't skim the gross bits. It's quite the armchair travel read about Major Percy Fawcett, famous intrepid British explorer of the Amazon back in Victorian times. Man of iron constitution, kind of an a**hole to those of weaker constitution (and I relate more toward the weak), apparently very charming and good looking as well. Thoroughly obsessive. Must! Explore!

It's an interesting depiction of the state of explorations at the time and of a Victorian man; very contradictory aspects of self, but then times were rapidly changing. Fawcett disappeared in the 1920s on an expedition to find the fabled El Dorado-ish lost city of "Z" as Fawcett dubbed it, and author David Grann tries to find out what might have happened to him and whether there might be a Z. He's not the only one, an amazing number of people have died over the years trying to find Fawcett. At first I was blithely enjoying it, thinking of how much fun an expedition might be, and then the maggots and the vampire bats struck. Not to mention the sweat bees in eye pupils and diseases and bacterial ailments and murderous Indian tribes. Not that I blame the Indians; the horrific treatment they received from rubber baron companies and other whites is also detailed in this book. My god, I'm never traveling to the Amazon! These explorers were insane. Oh, the maggots. Grann's adventure is not as fascinating, but it provides an interesting denouement and depiction of how the Amazon is changing.

I liked it as much as Candace Millard's River of Doubt, about Teddy Roosevelt's trip where he traveled a previously unknown Amazon river - also a fairly disastrous trip - but if a patron had a weaker stomach and more of a taste for wildlife description, I'd point them toward Millard's book first.more
This was totally a fun book. On the one hand, I got really into the romance of tromping through the jungle looking for El Dorado. On the other hand, gangrene. So I was definitely grateful that I could enjoy the mystery from the comfort of my couch.

I found the alternating chapters a little jarring, and the author's adventure didn't really hold my interest until the very end, but it didn't detract much from the book, and the device justified itself towards the end, where we actually get something that feels like closure. The stories of all of the people sucked in to the drama are almost as good as that of the Fawcett himself - not just his wife, slowly going mad back home, but all the people who plunged into the Amazon after him, and the con artists claiming they'd found him, or his half-native grandson, or his bones.

Totally an engrossing (and often gross) read.more
A celebrity of his time, explorer Percy Fawcett’s last adventure was deep into the Amazon. Along with him on the trip was his son, Jack, and his son’s best friend, Raleigh Rimell. The trio were never heard from again.

Author David Grann retells their story, with the events that led up to their expedition and the tales of the many who went in search of them. Despite the promise of adventure and all the hype surrounding this book, I didn’t get into it. Grann’s background is in journalism and it shows: much of the book felt like an overly extended article in the Wall Street Journal. The backstory dragged on until I was bored. When it finally picked up the pace, it was nearly over.

I understand some of the appeal found in this book. Primarily, there is an unsolved mystery. Further, there is a journalist who takes great strides in research and “front-line” journalism to get at the heart of the story. Admittedly, Fawcett’s story should be told and Grann was a great choice to do it. I would argue, however, that it would be a much better read as a concise five-part story in a popular newspaper or journal. As it is stands, The Lost City of Z is an arduous trek through an uncharted jungle of boredom which a reader does not hope to become lost in.more
While I didn't like this as much as the Devil and Sherlock Holmes, it was still a great read. I was, though, a little disappointed there wasn't more on Heckenberger's discovery, but it's nothing I can't look up myself.more
This book came highly recommended to me. It was fascinating to find out about the history of the Amazon exploration attempts. I don't understand why anyone would willingly put themselves through these horrific circumstances... insects infesting your body, man-eating fish, cannibals and a whole host of other horrors.No thank you!more
Great book in which the author reenacts Colonel Fawcett's trip to the Amazon to discover the supposed Lost City of Z. Why did this guy keep going back to the unexplored Amazon?more
This is a terrific non-fiction book from start to finish. Written from the perspective of a writer about to retrace the 1925 lost expedition of Percy Fawcett, it incorporates Fawcett's obsession with finding a lost city in the Amazon that he has no information about other than having convinced himself it exists. The author smoothly transitions from Fawcett's time to the present and back including historical perspectives of the late 19th, early 20th century. If you've listened to or read 1492, you're familiar with how the New World Indians were considerably more numerous and their culture more advanced until the Europeans arrived with new diseases that decimated their populations. That's wrapped into the interesting conclusion. It's an adventure, an education and provides great insight into the Green Hell of the Amazon.more
This was a good read about the exploration of the Amazon and all that it entails - from the horrors of the conquistadors and the slavery brought by Western manufacturers to present-day archaeological research, all wrapped around the story of a lost explorer named Colonel Fawcett. This is a huge topic, and the narrative is, as such, hard to follow in a precisely linear fashion - at times it became a bit too jumpy for me - but it worked in the end and I found the entire book overall very satisfying and worth reading. As a personal note I was also glad that the author noted in an after-piece that all direct quotes, "even from explorers lost in the jungle," come from primary sources. Unattributed sourcing of quotations that could never have been uttered or found is incredibly bothersome and, while I never felt that any hanky-panky was being pulled while I was reading the book, seeing it explicitly addressed made me very happy.more
And I thought after reading The Climb that people who climbed mountains were crazy... but after reading The Lost City of Z, the Amazon explorers make Everest climbers look like children on a playground. Grann's narrative is just as compelling as any work of fiction -- for most of the book, the chapters alternate between Grann's present-day investigations into the explorer Fawcett's disappearance, Fawcett's explorations, and the journey of a more recent explorer into the Amazon.Throughout the book, Grann includes writings from Fawcett and other explorers, historical information on the exploration of the Amazon, and analysis of present-day investigations into Fawcett's disappearance and his unwavering belief in a lost city in the middle of the jungle.I also appreciated that the book includes extensive notes on each chapter, and an enormous, comprehensive bibliography. I found the subject so intriguing that I plan to mine Grann's bibliography for additional resources on Amazonian exploration and the travels of Fawcett. Admittedly, my favorite part of the book was the information on the various diseases, parasites, and other dangers in the jungle, as well as commentary on the various tribes living there (and encountered by Fawcett and other explorers). It's unbelievable how many people ventured into the jungle looking for El Dorado and/or Fawcett's Z and lost their lives... hundreds of people, sometimes vanishing without a trace. I'm compelled to know more, and I think this was an excellent place to start with the subject.I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this to anyone!more
Excellent non-fiction work on the last of the Victorian explorers, Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett and how his obsession with the Amazon and its secrets shaped and ultimately claimed his life. Along the way, the author examines how the Amazon forest has been viewed by outsiders over time and how current scholarship is changing how historians and anthropologists view its history and peoples. Great book.more
So much non-fiction can be so dry even when the topic is of interest. That is why I love when non-fiction reads like a novel and this did just that. Contrary to others' reviews, I enjoyed the author's foray into the same land as Fawcett, not only physically but mentally as well. I plowed through the second half of the book in one sitting because I was so anxious to learn if Fawcett found what he was looking for as well as if Grann did the same. I was not disappointed with the end. A great read!more
This book alternates between a biography of the South American explorer Percy Fawcett and a first person account of the author's attempts to follow in his footsteps. Fawcet went missing when on a quest to find the "Lost City of Z," his version of Eldorado, deep in the Amazon. About 80 years later David Grann tells the story of his quest to follow the story of Fawcett -- from archives in London to the deepest Amazon -- in the first person.Anyone who has read 1491 knows the ending of this book. But even with that minimal suspense, the book is riveting in parts but repetitive in others. The first description of bees that stung your eyes or maggots that buried in your flesh was chilling. The 100th, less so. Much of the book is clearly necessary and illuminates the end of the age of non-scientific explorers. But other parts of the book appear more like padding than an essential part of the narrative.Overall, a quick read and recommended.more
In 1925, Amazonian explorer Percy Fawcett went on an expedition with his son, Jack, and Jack's friend, Raleigh Rimell. They were seeking a sort of El Dorado, what Fawcett termed the city of "Z," a place many in his time believed was mythical. For several months, family and newspapers received communiques - and then, nothing. Many bands of explorers have since gone in search of Fawcett, but none were successful. Intrigued by the mystery, David Grann started researching Fawcett and his obsession with "Z." Grann intersperses a biography of Fawcett with his own search for answers, first through historical documents and then through a visit to the Amazon himself. Fawcett is a fascinating man to learn about, a complex character who on the one hand is a product of his times, growing up in Victorian society, and on the other was a bit of a maverick. I'm not sure I can fully understand the sort of all-consuming passion and obsession that would lead one to drive into the Amazonian jungle and make geological observations, let alone search out a city that many scientists of the day didn't believe existed. I found the dual narratives jarring at first, especially in the beginning when both stories sort of started in the middle, and then backtracked, but once I was a few chapters in, I adjusted and really enjoyed the narrative.more
Non-fiction novel detailing the obsessive search for the City of Z by Victorian British explorer Percy Fawcett. One of my rarer digs into non-fiction. All in all a good read I especially like the ending.more
Fascinating! Reads like a novel.more
In the 1920s exploration into unknown lands was still incredibly popular. In this nonfiction tale, Grann tells the story of three men who headed off on the adventure of a life time. They went to the Amazon to find a fabled lost city, which they call “Z.” They’re never heard from again. The party included Percy Fawcett, his son and another man, all of whom disappeared in 1925. Grann follows in the footsteps of dozens of others, who have all searched for any sign of what happened to them. The book is wonderfully written and hard to put down. The story is part mystery and part adventure novel. Grann’s own experiences don’t overshadow Fawcett’s story, but instead they add to the reader’s understanding of what the man must have gone through. The Amazon is full of hundreds of life-threatening elements, including the bugs, Oh my gosh the bugs, there are mosquitoes, blood-sucking gnats, sweat bees and more. There are also huge snakes, tribes of cannibals, diseases in the water and more. Part of my fascination with the book was bred not from a desire to go there, but to understand the people who were driven to explore that intimidating terrain. This book is exactly how I like my nonfiction. It’s fascinating to read, I’m learning about a subject I have limited knowledge of, but it doesn’t overload me with unnecessary details. It was just right and I loved all the literary connections the story has (with King Solomon’s Minds and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle).  more
Could not put it down. Read this at all possible pauses from heads up life. Fascinating story, perfectly paced, expertly edited.more
this is a wonderfully written history/adventure story. it reads like fiction but it all true. i loved this book.more
In 1925 Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett and his expedition party (including his son) entered the Amazon in search of The Lost City of El Dorado and never returned. Countless lives have been lost searching for them and for the fabled, mysterious and of course very rich lost city.I did enjoy this book. It's an easy read about a fascinating and vivid period of history. The author starts off well, setting the scene and evoking the furore of a trip to discover the lost city. He then slowly weaves his tale to follow in Fawcett's footsteps and at first these two stories balance well.Sadly after about 1/3 of the way through cracks started to show, partly through boredom as I am slightly familiar with the period but also (and I can't believe I am going to say this) it was really too much like an adventure story and.. well .. real life isn't just like that. Take for example the authors comic, naive bumbling organising his trip to the Amazon, amusing at first but it soon feels so contrived. I am presuming it's true.. but it *doesn't* feel true and loosing faith in the author is always a bad signAlso neither story lives up to their promise. Fawcett's tale because of the way his story is presented. For me his flaws were address so late in the book, that the reality of obsessive, poverty stricken, ego-maniac doesn't sit well with the beginning. Yes it's supposed be a nice bit of juxtaposition but I simply found it a tad irritating. Then theres the authors story which oddly never managed to be that evocative, odd because he does manage to bring Fawcett's trek alive. I know not much happened but seeing the Amazon from the everyman should of been much more fun than it was.Oh there are other things wrong with the book but to be honest it's just nitpicking and I did enjoy this book, (no really) but I was heartedly disappointed. Others have given this book rave reviews and I do recommend it for anyone who loves a sense of adventure but maybe go and read The Lost World instead, much more fun :)more
An extraordinary book! This non-fiction book reads like fiction. It is story about the fate of Percy Fawcett - a British explorer in the early 20th century convinced that the Amazon hid a large, advanced and lost civilization. Grann painstakingly tracks his expeditions and uses access to family correspondence and diaries to track Fawcett to his final, mysterious disappearance. Soon Fawcett's obsession becomes Grann's, and our reward is this engrossing tale. Contains some pretty cringe-worthy descriptions of Amazon bugs, animals and diseases.more
I was fascinated by the number of explorers who followed Fawcett in search of nailing his fate. His whole dream of "Lost City of Z" seemed to fit in with fictional magical realism, but then with today's modern-day technology, it becomes more a true-life possibility. I wrote down some of the author's references to literature and movies. An interesting tale. I want to read "River of Doubt" about Teddy Roosevelt's exploration of the Amazon, which I have heard is a fabulous book, to compare the two. I was giving "Lost City of Z" 3.5 stars until the last chapter, which was incredibly compelling.more
This book is non-fiction but you’d never guess it. To say it reads like fiction isn’t exactly right either. It’s an adventure story on steroids and it’s all true. It’s mainly the story of British explorer Percy Fawcett and his exploration of the Amazon jungle in the early 1900s. Told through Fawcett’s letters and journals, as well as those of his companions on his missions, the author does a terrific job putting you right there in the jungle with Fawcett, being eaten alive by deadly mosquitoes, watching as maggots drill into your skin, seeing your emaciated companions and realizing that you’re all slowly starving to death in the beastly heat, all while you look out for Indians bearing deadly arrows that may be coming your way.On his last mission, in 1925, Fawcett, his son Jack and Jack’s friend Raleigh try once more to find the elusive El Dorado, or as Fawcett called it, Z. They never return. The book chronicles the attempts made to rescue the three men, and then, when it was apparent that they were lost forever, the continual obsession by some to find Fawcett’s bones, including the author in 2005. These people were known as ‘Fawcett Freaks.’Even though Fawcett’s trek through the jungle was the primary thrust of the book, I was very taken in by the part Fawcett’s wife, Nina, played. The lonely wife, left behind for years at a time, she was a loyal supporter of her husband, even though he left her destitute with three children to raise on her own. She was so used, by her husband and his obsession with Z, and yet she felt she played an important role in his explorations.Beautifully written, meticulously researched, this is a book not to be missed. Very highly recommended.more
What a great book! It will interest history buffs, those who enjoy mysteries, and those intrigued with characters who subject themselves to horrific circumstances for the sake of a quest. The author writes for the New Yorker, which means the writing is fluid.The author studies explorations of the Amazon basin, especially in the time of British explorer Percy Fawcett, who disappeared in the Amazon with his son in 1925. Fawcett was one of the final "solo" explorers of his time, and his interest was a land area little known by Europeans: the Amazon basin. Growing increasingly unbalanced with age, Fawcett's final expedition was in search of Z, or El Dorado, an ancient site hidden in the Amazon rain forest representing the richness of a past civilization. Although fervid European imagination about such a place far outran reality, modern archaeological findings do suggest the presence of astonishing Amazonian cities in the not so distant past.Beginning in 1908 Fawcett undertook several Amazon treks, particularly in the border areas between Bolivia, Brazil, and Peru. Some of these are recreated in vivid, sweaty detail by the author. I couldn't take my eyes off the page in the descriptions of insect attacks, maggot infestations, sloughing flesh, tiny bees boring into the eyes, starvation, fevers, and so on. I could scarcely believe that the author, who so deeply details the horrors involved, and who apparently had never been on a camping trip, undertook a journey to the Amazon on his own quest for Fawcett's fate. This book is captivating.There are copious footnotes, a detailed bibliography, some blurry photographs, maps, and an index.more
Concept of the book is substantially better than the read. Not as exciting as you might expect.more
Themes: obsession, exploration, man vs. environment, nasty ways to dieSetting: the Amazon, 1920s and present dayNoted explorer and Royal Geographic Society member Percy Fawcett set off to find the lost city of Z in the Amazon jungle with his oldest son and the son's best friend in 1925. They made good time, were in good spirits. Then they disappeared.Various groups set off to find him. Some of THEM disappeared, some were killed, but no one had any luck. Now journalist David Grann is ready to look again.The subtitle of this book is "A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon," and that is a very good description of the story. Fawcett was completely obsessed with the Amazon, going back again and again. He pushed himself relentlessly and had no time for anyone who couldn't keep up the pace. He himself had an amazing constitution, but for most of the folks, the jungle is not a friendly place. Not even counting the predators, the bad water, the heat, and the lack of food, the number of nasty bugs waiting to infest your body is staggering and disgusting. Even a paper cut would attract maggots in no time. Flies and biting bugs are everywhere. Why on earth anyone would want to visit once, let alone come back for more, is completely beyond me. But it makes for compelling reading.Then the obsession spreads to Grann himself. The most recent in a long line of people chasing after the ghost of Fawcett, he is a rather unlikely explorer. He had never been to the jungle, didn't even like camping. He had no gear and no idea what to take. But he wouldn't give up on this story. I won't spoil the ending, but the book is absolutely worth the read. 4.5 starsmore
I really enjoyed learning about Fawcett and becoming an explorer in the victorian age, he was an amazing guy, but the ending was not what I had hoped for.more
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