Lost City Of Z A Tale Of Deadly Obsession In The Amazon
By David Grann
I’m drawn to books like this – Shackleton’s Endurance, quests to find Hillary Scott’s remains on Mt. Everest, attempts to explain Amelia Earhart’s disappearance – which have a particular blend of mystery, time travel and research I find enjoyable and often compelling.
This one centers around acclaimed New Yorker writer David Grann doing his utmost best to find original sources that will let him retrace the route into the Amazon that British explorer Percy Harrison Fawcett took in his quest to find El Dorado or the city of “Z” as he called it. Fawcett himself, along with his son Jack and Raleigh Rimell vanished in 1925 while searching for this lost city know for its signs of beauty, culture and advancement.
What is really very impressive is the extent of effort made by Mr. Grann in creating this book. He not only seemingly interviews every remaining relative or associate of PHF, including getting original sources and diaries by visiting Fawcett’s granddaughter Joan in Wales, tracking down journals from his WWI Military unit, traveling to the offices of the Royal Geographic Society in London and to a map archive in Sao Paulo, Brazil – he ultimately goes into the Amazon region himself to check things out!
This immediately amps up the action after he starts out a little like Bill Bryson preparing for his Appalachian Trail attempt. Grann is totally immersed in finding the truth some 80 years later and his expedition experience is complete with deadly insects, piranhas (and other worse jungle menaces!), still hostile Indian tribes and difficult terrain. His descriptions pull no punches as you feel him becoming more deeply obsessed with this research mission.
It should be noted that the author is an excellent storyteller and makes great use of many historical documents in presenting this fascinating biographical mystery adventure.
Deserving of its place on many best of the year lists – the bibliography alone is a treasure trove of historic resources related to all manner of archaeology and exploration, early British explorers, nomads, Indian tribes, early discoveries and more. He references sources from Fawcett’s prolific writer son Brian (Exploration Fawcett 1953) up through the very recent book 1491.