After stumbling upon a hidden trove of diaries, acclaimed New Yorker writer David Grann set out to solve "the greatest exploration mystery of the 20th 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, Fawcett embarked with his 21-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. 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.
©2009 David Grann; (P)2009 Random House
"The story of Z goes to the heart of the central questions of our age. In the battle between man and a hostile environment, who wins? A fascinating and brilliant book." (Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and The Tipping Point)
The narrator was perfect. The author did incredibly detailed research on this topic. The parallel style of his & Fawcett's search for Z was very effective. The historical value of his research is priceless! This true story of mystery & suspense was well told. The descriptions made me feel like I was right there in the jungle with him!
This book, really digs into the public psyche and scientific thinking of the late 1800's and early 1900's. All the while you experience through multiple perspectives, the horrors of the Amazon. I myself will never complain about the occasional mosquito bite again.
It is fascinating on every level of which there are many. If one has any complaints about this book, one must take it up with history, which of course seldom ties up events in an easy to unwrap present. Recommended
Centered in PugetSound:Kingston SCORE,Chamber,Rotary,Co-founder Martingale&Co (Love ESOPs),Member of Vistage/TEC 10years,Former Airborne US
I really enjoyed listening to this book from Science Friday's book club. It has really changed the way I think about the evolution of humans. It has also changed the way I think about the word "civilized".
Kathleen in FL
True stories are always interesting to me. This was no exception. The disappearance of Colonel Fawcett and two others while on an exploration expedition of the Amazon in the 1920's in well known. This author gives us a good back story on the man and his motives for risking his life and fortunes and those of his oldest son and the son's best friend.
This story was told so well. I enjoyed every moment from beginning to end. This expedition was a deadly one if I must say. You have to admire a man who knew what he wanted. It explains how we can all become obsessed with things we believe!! May everyone rest in peace who was killed in that deadly place we call the Amazon.
This story was extremely difficult to follow as it jumped around from present to past with different characters. Nothing came alive in it and listening to it felt like a slog through the jungle never quite knowing where I was. And the ending was needlessly anti climatic. So much could have been done with the whole book.
Very well read, excellently researched, and author David Grann mixes himself so well into the mystery of the missing colonel, I seriously began to worry he would vanish as well into the Amazon jungles (and perhaps translate this volume via spiritualism). Haunting, truly, the real-life characters and quests live and breathe again, and I was sad that this book had to end. I would not have minded another 8 hours or so. Compelling stuff, we really, really do want to know what happened to the intrepid colonel and his son, and we empathize with the surviving family that fretted and worried to the proverbial end. Sadly, we do not have the answer yet (or do we?) and like El Dorado itself, Colonel Percy Fawcett, the perfect archetype of stiff-upper-lip British courage, is now legendary (and I half expect him and his son to still turn up, popping back through the underground portal, young and vital, waving the keys to El Dorado). Art et Amour Toujours
I followed the advice of reviewers for this book and listened to River of Doubt first. I agree that it is a more entertaining book, but after finishing it I was still sufficiently curious to pick up this one as well. The story is interesting, but I felt a bit mislead about what it was going to be about. The description bills the story as an investigative reporter trying to solve the mysterious disappearance of Percy Fawcett's party in the Amazon. The book is really more a detailed history of Fawcett and his motivations and then an exploration of the many people who subsequently tried unsuccessfully to find out definitively what happened to Fawcett over the years. This story was quite interesting, though Fawcett does not come out looking particularly well. However, the actual exploration of the author sort of concludes in an anti-climactic way because while he decides that he has learned the truth about what happened to Fawcett, it is based on a third-hand account that had been previously reported so it was not exactly new ground being covered. Honestly it seemed obvious from the outset that there was never going to be any way to prove what happened definitively without actually recovering Fawcett's remains (or those of his son or Raleigh Rimell), a task that seemed next to impossible due to drastic changes to the land in that area. It is interesting for the history of Fawcett and other Amazonian explorers, but River of Doubt is far superior for the description of the experience of exploring the Amazon.
Loved the book. I love adventure stories based on real-life adventures, and if you have a similar taste you will want to read this book.
The focus is not only on the legendary lost city of Z, but on the mystery surrounding Percy Fawcett who disappeared in the Amazon without a trace in 1925. The book provides a lot of historical background of the times and about the men who took on the challenge. The book is well-researched and you want to continue reading to see how it will end.
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