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The Lost City of Z: Stranger Than Fiction

It’s been a while since I have had a chance to down some good non-fiction.

Inspired by the Amazon Best Books (So Far) of 2009, I dug into The Lost City of Z.Lost-City-of-Z-David-Grann-unabridged-compact-discs-Random-House-Audiobooks
My hip parents had picked it up on their own, a belated birthday present for Peter. I waited patiently for him to finish it. He praised it faintly, but I was undeterred.

I have been at the margins of the Amazon River myths, buying  The River of Doubt and Fordlandia, for my Dad over the years. The River bows to no one. While we all know that intellectually, the history and detail of the region in the Z book was inspiring. Where air travel, adventurism and Google Earth have left no stone unturned in this great big world, it seems that life–both tribal and animal–sit mysteriously and secretively under the canopy.

How refreshing.

The author, David Grann, is a staff writer at the New Yorker and a self-proclaimed obsessive about his subject matter.  And what perfect a selected storyteller, as he relates the history of Percy Fawcett, a British Explorer who embarks on a quest in 1925 to find the “Lost City of Z”. This ancient civilization known as El Dorado was a myth for hundreds of years and Fawcett sets out to prove himself in the Royal Geographic Society and make “the most important archeological discovery of his time.” 

The obsession unfolds. Not just in joining Percy, but in the hundreds who followed, trying to find the original party that mysteriously disappeared. Finally, we follow David Grann, as he leaves his family safely in NYC and chases the Percy trail yet again. 

It’s a great adventure tale. The history and legacy of the Amazon is amazing. If there is anything that was unsatisfying, well, I’m a bit cranky about unsolved mysteries. You’ll need to find that zen like place which says it’s all about the journey, not the destination…

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Nadia Daniel #

    I read this one after the review in the WSJ and really enjoyed the fiction like pace of this non fiction story. I was particularly taken with the levels of “discomfort” that Fawcett and several (though not all) of his crew were willing to submit themselves to in order to follow this fantasy/dream/obsession. The flesh eating maggots, fungus induced rot are just a few of the gems they succumb to during their travels. It did nothing to raise my tolerance of discomfort as those of you who know me are willing to attest to my low threshold. But it did much to increase my admiration of the men of that generation who seemed steeped in these pursuits of passion for which they’d go to such extreme lengths, as well as the women who stayed behind to keep their story alive (not to mention raising their kids!)

    September 24, 2009

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