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07 March

Book Review: Lost City of Z


I recently finished The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann.  This book is a little hard to describe, because it is not only an adventure book, but it also a kind of biography on Colonel Fawcett aka Percival (Percy) Harrison Fawcett , an adventurer who went deep into the Amazon in search of the lost city of Z.  Fawcett was a prolific explorer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used his exploits as a basis for The Lost World.

The book moved along at a very good clip.  I never got bored or thought there was too much detail.  As the author tells the story of Fawcett he also tells the story of his research and his preparation to go into the Amazon himself.  It is a very interesting adventure/biography story.  I would recommend to any history buff and especially to anyone who enjoys a good adventure story.

Here is an excerpt from a review that John Grisham did of the book:

The great mystery of what happened to Fawcett has never been solved, perhaps until now. In 2004, author David Grann discovered the story while researching another one. Soon, like hundreds before him, he became obsessed with the legend of the colorful adventurer and his baffling disappearance. Grann, a lifelong New Yorker with an admitted aversion to camping and mountain climbing, a lousy sense of direction, and an affinity for take-out food and air conditioning, soon found himself in the jungles of the Amazon. What he found there, some 80 years after Fawcett’s disappearance, is a startling conclusion to this absorbing narrative.

The book has 3 stars out of a possible 4, with of 331 reviews.  I myself would give it a 3.5 to 4 stars.  I always like to use Goodreads to see the reviews, since a lot more people review books on that site.  There this book has 3.8 stars and over 1,578 reviews.

Further reading:

Exploration Fawcett: Journey to the Lost City of Z by Percy Fawcett

The Ecology of Power: Culture, Place and Personhood in the Southern Amazon, AD 1000-2000 (Critical Perspectives in Identity, Memory & the Built Environment) by Michael J. Heckenberger, Grann meets Heckenberger towards the end of his journey.  Heckenberger is an expert on that area of the Amazon where Fawcett is believed to have been last seen.  He is also said to be the current day Fawcett.

Lost trails, Lost Cities by Percy Harrison Fawcett (Author), Brian Fawcett (Editor)

Here is a cool video where David Grann shows pictures from adventures in the Amazon and discusses his book: