The Lost City of Z

A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon

Grann, David

Book - 2009
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Lost City of Z
After stumbling upon a hidden trove of diaries, New Yorker writer David Grann set out to solve "the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth century": what happened to British explorer Percy Fawcett. In 1925 Fawcett ventured into the Amazon to find an ancient civilization. For centuries Europeans believed the world's largest jungle concealed the glittering El Dorado. Thousands had died looking for it, leaving many convinced that the Amazon was truly inimical to humankind. But Fawcett had spent years building his scientific case. Captivating the imagination of millions, he 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 clues he left behind--became an obsession for hundreds who followed him. As Grann delved deeper into Fawcett's mystery, and the greater mystery of the Amazon, he found himself irresistibly drawn into the "green hell."--publisher description.

Publisher: New York : Doubleday, c2009.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 0385513534
Characteristics: xi, 339 p., [16] p. of plates :,ill., maps ;,25 cm.


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Sep 25, 2014
  • di0nysus rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

I found this book boring. I didn't get past the 1st 50 pages.

Nov 15, 2013
  • rsalvino1 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

There isn't a yellow brick road on this adventure to the Lost City of Z, and the flying monkeys, wicked witches, Munchkins, and wizard have been replaced by parasitic worms that burrow into your skin, boa constrictors, natives with poison-tipped arrows, and a well-funded American explorer who threatens to discover 'Z' before Percy Fawcett--the story's protagonist--does, yet this book fields an equally amazing cast of characters and setting. The story and its characters are as complex and intricate as the Amazon itself. Percy Fawcett, a real life Indiana Jones, is at once heroic, superhuman, compassionate, and deeply flawed. He is one of the first Europeans to see the humanity of the native inhabitants of the Amazon, yet he drives his fellow European explorers so hard that some of them die, and he allows his family to sink into a state of destitution so that he can carry on in the Amazon. The Amazon cast such a strong spell on the first Europeans to accidentally journey down the river (Francisco Orelleana and his crew in the 1530s) that, once they set foot back on European soil, they dedicated their entire efforts to returning (their story, River of Darkness, is an excellent read). Same for Percy Fawcett. He was alive when he was on an exploration in the Amazon. Back home, he dreamed of returning. David Grann does a wonderful job of capturing that obsession in Fawcett. But this is more than a story of a man. It is also a story of a place. Here again, Grann carries the reader to the Amazon of the 1920's. He also incidentally carries you to the diminished Amazon of today--one that may fill you with regret.

Oct 19, 2013
  • sess430 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Born in England in 1868, raised in exotic places in the far East, Colonel Percy Fawcett was obsessed with finding the fabled city of El Dorado that he code-named 'Z'. The tale describes his dangerous treks into the Amazonian jungle to search for it. Supposedly he was a model for the Indiana Jones character. The author also made a trek of his own into the Amazon in search of some answers. It's an interesting story of obsession gone crazy.

Aug 16, 2013
  • MattPellerin rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Rather than write down and describe the story discussed in this novel, all I will simply say is that this book is so well made and enthralling that I will simply say that as a history-buff and book-fanatic, this is hands-down my favorite book every read ! Spawned a fascination with the Amazon for me. I hope it will for you as well.

Jul 15, 2013
  • gracindaisy rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Author sets out to discover what happened to missing explorer Percy Fawcett who disappeared in the Amazon in 1925 looking for the Lost City of Z. Great description of the Amazon environment.

Mar 12, 2013
  • yogacookie rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Its pretty exciting read, Grann does a great job of giving lots of relevant details to recreate the adventure, and get an understanding of exploration at the turn of the century. I am sure there are mistakes if you nitpick, but it is a good fast read you will enjoy!

Dec 09, 2012
  • sszary rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Very insightful read. I was most impressed with the sheer volume of research put into it. Grann demonstrates raw dedication to his story, and writes it with compelling detail.

Oct 08, 2012

"In 1925, famed British explorer Percy Fawcett voyaged up the Amazon in search of a city he called "Z" and others call El Dorado. Although Fawcett was a seasoned adventurer, he and his two companions (including his 21-year-old son, Jack) were never seen again. Decades later, journalist David Grann learned about the headline-making disappearance and joined the ranks of those who've attempted to learn what happened to Fawcett - several of whom have lost their lives in the process. An account of Grann's modern-day foray into the jungle is interwoven with details about Fawcett's adventures, which are based on the explorer's diaries, letters, and other accounts. Featuring blow-darts, giant snakes, and hostile locals, this gripping narrative reads "with all the pace and excitement of a movie thriller" (The New York Times)." Next Reads Armchair Travel October 2012 Newsletter

Feb 21, 2012
  • dulynoted rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Fascinating. I enjoyed learning about Amazon expeditions, but was even more drawn in by the psychology of the folks that went there.

Feb 21, 2012
  • patienceandfortitude rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This is a very entertaining read and perfect for the arm chair tourist who vicariously enjoys learning about people risking their lives in dangerous places. I won't ever go into the Amazonian jungle but loved reading about those who are both crazy and brave enough to explore it.

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Dec 16, 2010
  • notTom rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

In his search for a lost city in the Amazon, hardened explorer Percy Harrison Fawcett entered the jungle in 1925 and never returned. In the following decades, many people have gone in search of Fawcett and the lost Amazonian civilization that he fervently believed in only to have come away empty-handed, if at all. David Grann contends that people have been searching in the wrong place and undertakes his own quest to discover Fawcett's fate using newly-released documents and Fawcett's own personal journals and notes as his guides. His book is an engaging account of what drives people, including himself, to immerse themselves in one of the world's most dangerous areas. Grann comes upon some surprising results that are changing how people view the native cultures of the Amazon.


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