Wednesday, May 06, 2009

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

Here are some travel tips. When exploring deep in the Amazon rain forest, expect misadventure. Learn to tolerate vicious insect. Don't be surprised when you find maggots in your wounds. Don't break any of your limbs, for your companions will abandon you. When canoeing, don't drag your hands in the water! Plan for the moment when staying alive becomes more important than finding Eldorado. Also, read The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann before you go. You may change your mind.

In his book Grann mixes an account of the famous 1925 Amazon expedition of British explorer Percy Harrison Fawcett with the story of his own investigation into Fawcett's fate. Fawcett was a celebrated member of the Royal Geographical Society at the time that he led a son, his son's friend, and a small party of guides and pack animals into the forest. The Englishman was convinced that a great ancient city was to be found within the white spaces on his maps. Shunning all the latest technology, such as two-way radio and light aircraft, he set off to move fast through the forest. After sending back the last guides from deep in the Mato Grosso region of Brazil, he was never heard from again.

Grann reports that around 100 people died trying to rescue Fawcett in the ensuing years. Not all of the expeditions were well documented. Many people simply disappeared in the rain forest. Some were known to have been killed by the secretive tribes who lived in the forest and were sometimes discribed as cannibals. What could Grann possibly find 80 years later?

I do not want to spoil the story, so I will let you read about Grann's discoveries yourself.

Grann, David. The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon. Doubleday, 2009. ISBN 9780385513531


Anonymous said...

Just placed a hold, thanks!

(249 holds on 30some copies)

Colonel Percy Fawcett said...

We all love a good mystery and a tale of adventure, the Indiana Jones films popularity is proof of that. Unfortunately very few of us ever experience an adventure of our own so well done to Grann.
This story certainly gets the imagination going as to what could have happened to the 1925 fawcett expedition.
How did they die?
Did they all suffer the same fate?
Did they ever find the Lost City of Z?
There is much we will never know about the expedition and I suppose we will ever find out now, which is a shame, but at least as long as it remains unknown the mystery will continue.
And let's hope Hollywood does the story justice in the forthcoming film starring Brad Pitt.
I have read the excellent Fawcett Expedition, edited by his son Brian Fawcett. It is essential reading to anyone interested in this story.
I have read David Grann's Lost City of Z and found it a good read, although a bit too much Grann at times, but that is my humble opinion.
I have come across a new book about Fawcett called Amazon Adventure by Ben Hammott, it will be out later in 2010. I have read the two advance chapters on the book's website and thoroughly enjoyed them. At last a book that takes the reader to the Lost City, something I think we would all like to read about, even if it is fiction. I have read his previous non-fiction book Lost Tomb of the Knights Templar and it was good, very funny at times, so I think he will make a good job writing about the Fawcett story. Here is the link for those who want to find out more:
where you will also find large Fawcett expedition maps and an English translation of manuscript 512, the document that helped Percy Fawcett believe a Lost City existed in the Amazon jungle.