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A grand mystery reaching back centuries. A sensational disappearance that made headlines around the world. A quest for truth that leads to death, madness or disappearance for those who seek to solve it. The Lost City of Z is a blockbuster adventure narrative about what lies beneath the impenetrable jungle canopy of the Amazon.

After stumbling upon a hidden trove of diaries, acclaimed New Yorker writer David Grann set out to solve "the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth century:" What happened to the British explorer Percy Fawcett and his quest for the Lost City of Z?

In 1925 Fawcett ventured into the Amazon to find an ancient civilization, hoping to make one of the most important discoveries in history. For centuries Europeans believed the world’s largest jungle concealed the glittering kingdom of El Dorado. Thousands had died looking for it, leaving many scientists convinced that the Amazon was truly inimical to humankind. But Fawcett, whose daring expeditions helped inspire Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, had spent years building his scientific case. Captivating the imagination of millions around the globe, Fawcett embarked with his twenty-one-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 tantalizing clues he left behind about “Z”--became an obsession for hundreds who followed him into the uncharted wilderness. For decades scientists and adventurers have searched for evidence of Fawcett’s party and the lost City of Z. Countless have perished, been captured by tribes, or gone mad. As David Grann delved ever deeper into the mystery surrounding Fawcett’s quest, and the greater mystery of what lies within the Amazon, he found himself, like the generations who preceded him, being irresistibly drawn into the jungle’s “green hell.” His quest for the truth and his stunning discoveries about Fawcett’s fate and “Z” form the heart of this complex, enthralling narrative.

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Exclusive: John Grisham Reviews The Lost City of Z

Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, John Grisham has written twenty novels and one work of nonfiction, The Innocent Man. His second novel, The Firm, spent 47 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, becoming the bestselling novel of 1991. The success of The Pelican Brief, which hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at number one, confirmed Grisham''s reputation as the master of the legal thriller. His most recent novel, The Associate, was published in January 2009. Read his exclusive Amazon guest review of The Lost City of Z:

In April of 1925, a legendary British explorer named Percy Fawcett launched his final expedition into the depths of the Amazon in Brazil. His destination was the lost city of El Dorado, the “City of Gold,” an ancient kingdom of great sophistication, architecture, and culture that, for some reason, had vanished. The idea of El Dorado had captivated anthropologists, adventurers, and scientists for 400 years, though there was no evidence it ever existed. Hundreds of expeditions had gone looking for it. Thousands of men had perished in the jungles searching for it. Fawcett himself had barely survived several previous expeditions and was more determined than ever to find the lost city with its streets and temples of gold.

The world was watching. Fawcett, the last of the great Victorian adventurers, was financed by the Royal Geographical Society in London, the world’s foremost repository of research gathered by explorers. Fawcett, then age 57, had proclaimed for decades his belief in the City of Z, as he had nicknamed it. His writings, speeches, and exploits had captured the imagination of millions, and reports of his last expedition were front page news.

His expeditionary force consisted of three men--himself, his 21-year-old son Jack, and one of Jack’s friends. Fawcett believed that only a small group had any chance of surviving the horrors of the Amazon. He had seen large forces decimated by malaria, insects, snakes, poison darts, starvation, and insanity. He knew better. He and his two companions would travel light, carry their own supplies, eat off the land, pose no threat to the natives, and endure months of hardship in their search for the Lost City of Z.

They were never seen again. Fawcett’s daily dispatches trickled to a stop. Months passed with no word. Because he had survived several similar forays into the Amazon, his family and friends considered him to be near super-human. As before, they expected Fawcett to stumble out of the jungle, bearded and emaciated and announcing some fantastic discovery. It did not happen.

Over the years, the search for Fawcett became more alluring than the search for El Dorado itself. Rescue efforts, from the serious to the farcical, materialized in the years that followed, and hundreds of others lost their lives in the search. Rewards were posted. Psychics were brought in by the family. Articles and books were written. For decades the legend of Percy Fawcett refused to die.

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 Lost City of Z is a riveting, exciting and thoroughly compelling tale of adventure.

(Photo © Maki Galimberti)

A Q&A with Author David Grann

Question: When did you first stumble upon the story of Percy Fawcett and his search for an ancient civilization in the Amazon—and when did you realize this particular story had you in “the grip”?

David Grann: While I was researching a story on the mysterious death of the world’s greatest Sherlock Holmes expert, I came upon a reference to Fawcett’s role in inspiring Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel The Lost World. Curious, I plugged Fawcett’s name into a newspaper database and was amazed by the headlines that appeared, including “THREE MEN FACE CANNIBALS IN RELIC QUEST” and tribesmen “Seize Movie Actor Seeking to Rescue Fawcett.” As I read each story, I became more and more curious--about how Fawcett’s quest for a lost city and his disappearance had captivated the world; how for decades hundreds of scientists and explorers had tried to find evidence of Fawcett’s missing party and the City of Z; and how countless seekers had disappeared or died from starvation, diseases, attacks by wild animals, or poisonous arrows. What intrigued me most, though, was the notion of Z. For years most scientists had considered the brutal conditions in the largest jungle in the world inimical to humankind, but more recently some archeologists had begun to question this longstanding view and believed that a sophisticated civilization like Z might have existed. Such a discovery would challenge virtually everything that was believed about the nature of the Amazon and what the Americas looked liked before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. Suddenly, the story had every tantalizing element--mystery, obsession, death, madness--as well as great intellectual stakes. Still, I probably didn’t realize I was fully in the story’s “grip” until I told my wife that I planned to take out an extra life insurance policy and follow Fawcett’s trail into the Amazon.

Q: Tell us about the discovery of Fawcett’s previously unpublished diaries and logbooks.

DG: Researching the book often felt like a kind of treasure hunt and nothing was more exciting than coming across these materials in an old chest in the house of one of Fawcett’s grandchildren. Fawcett, who had been a British spy, was extremely secretive about his search for Z--in part because he didn’t want his rivals to discover the lost city before he did and in part because he feared that too many people would die if they tried to follow in his wake. These old, crumbling diaries and logbooks held incredible clues to both Fawcett’s life and death; what’s more, they revealed a key to his clandestine route to the Lost City of Z.

Q: In an attempt to retrace Fawcett’s journey, many scientists and explorers have faced madness, kidnapping, and death. Did you ever hesitate to go to the Amazon?

DG: I probably should have been more hesitant, especially after reading some of the diaries of members of other parties that had scoured the Amazon for a lost city. One seeker of El Dorado described reaching a state of “privation so great that we were eating nothing but leather, belts and soles of shoes, cooked with certain herbs, with the result that so great was our weakness that we could not remain standing.” In that expedition alone, some four thousand men perished. Other explorers resorted to cannibalism. One searcher went so mad he stabbed his own child, whispering, “Commend thyself to God, my daughter, for I am about to kill thee.” But to be honest, even after reading these accounts, I was so consumed by the story that I did not think much about the consequences--and one of the themes I try to explore in the book is the lethal nature of obsession.

Q: When you were separated from your guide Paolo on the way to the Kuikuro village and seemingly lost and alone in the jungle, what was going through your mind?

DG: Besides fear, I kept wondering what the hell I was doing on such a mad quest.

Q: Paolo and you made a game of imagining what happened to Fawcett in the Amazon. Without giving anything away about The Lost City of Z, I was wondering if you came away with any final conclusions?

DG: I don’t want to give too much away; but, after poring over Fawcett’s final letters and dispatches from the expedition and after interviewing many of the tribes that Fawcett himself had encountered, I felt as if I had come as close as possible to knowing why Fawcett and his party vanished.

Q: In his praise for your book, Malcolm Gladwell asks a “central question of our age”: “In the battle between man and a hostile environment, who wins?” Obviously, the jungle has won many times, but it seems man may be gaining. What are your thoughts on the deforestation taking place in the Amazon?

DG: It is a great tragedy. Over the last four decades in Brazil alone, the Amazon has lost some two hundred and seventy thousand square miles of its original forest cover--an area bigger than France. Many tribes, including some I visited, are being threatened with extinction. Countless animals and plants, many of them with potential medicinal purposes, are also vanishing. One of the things that the book explores is how early Native American societies were often able to overcome their hostile environment without destroying it. Unfortunately, that has not been the case with the latest wave of trespassers.

Q: You began this journey as a man who doesn’t like to camp and has “a terrible sense of direction and tend[s] to forget where [you are] on the subway and miss[es] [your] stop in Brooklyn.” Are you now an avid outdoorsman?

DG: No. Once was enough for me!

Q: Early in the book, you write, “Ever since I was young, I’ve been drawn to mystery and adventure tales.” What have been some of your favorite books--past and present--that fall into this category?

DG: I’m a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, and every few years go back and read the stories again. I do the same with many of Joseph Conrad’s novels, including Lord Jim. I’m always amazed at how he produced quest novels that reflected the Victorian era and yet seem to have been written with the wisdom of a historian looking back in time. As for more contemporary authors, I read a lot of crime fiction, especially the works of George Pelecanos and Michael Connelly. I also relish books, such as Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn, that cleverly play with this genre. Finally, there are the gripping yarns written by authors like and -—stories that are all the more spellbinding because they are true.

Q: Brad Pitt and Paramount optioned The Lost City of Z in the spring. Any updates?

DG: They have hired a screenwriter and director and seem to be moving forward at a good clip.

Q: What are you working on now?

DG: I recently finished a couple of crime stories for The New Yorker, including one about a Polish author who allegedly committed murder and then left clues about the real crime in his novel. Meanwhile, I’m hoping to find a tantalizing story, like The Lost City of Z, that will lead to a new book.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

DG: Just that I hope that readers will enjoy The Lost City of Z and find the story of Fawcett and his quest as captivating as I did.

(Photo © Matt Richman)

Look Inside The Lost City of Z

Click on thumbnails for larger images

Percy Harrison Fawcett was considered “the last of the individualist explorers”—those who ventured into blank spots on the map with little more than a machete, a compass, and an almost divine sense of purpose. He is seen here in 1911, the year of his fourth major Amazon expedition. (Copyright © R. de Montet-Guerin)
Fawcett mapping the frontier between Brazil and Bolivia in 1908. (Courtesy of the Royal Geographical Society)
Dr. Alexander Hamilton Rice, Fawcett’s main rival, was a multimillionaire “as much at home in the elegant swirl of Newport society as in the steaming jungles of Brazil.” (Courtesy of the Royal Geographical Society)
A member of Dr. Rice’s 1919-20 expedition deploys a wireless telegraphy set—an early radio—allowing the party to receive news from the outside world. (Courtesy of the Royal Geographical Society)


From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In 1925, renowned British explorer Col. Percy Harrison Fawcett embarked on a much publicized search to find the city of Z, site of an ancient Amazonian civilization that may or may not have existed. Fawcett, along with his grown son Jack, never returned, but that didn''t stop countless others, including actors, college professors and well-funded explorers from venturing into the jungle to find Fawcett or the city. Among the wannabe explorers is Grann, a staff writer for the New Yorker, who has bad eyes and a worse sense of direction. He became interested in Fawcett while researching another story, eventually venturing into the Amazon to satisfy his all-consuming curiosity about the explorer and his fatal mission. Largely about Fawcett, the book examines the stranglehold of passion as Grann''s vigorous research mirrors Fawcett''s obsession with uncovering the mysteries of the jungle. By interweaving the great story of Fawcett with his own investigative escapades in South America and Britain, Grann provides an in-depth, captivating character study that has the relentless energy of a classic adventure tale. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Ever since Joseph Conrad''s Heart of Darkness, it has been difficult to think of a journey up a river into a jungle as anything but a journey to discover oneself. Similarly, reviewers seemed to find what they wanted in The Lost City of Z, even if some admitted that Grann''s adventures, at times tedious, were not nearly as perilous or as larger-than-life as Fawcett''s. Some critics read it as a boys'' adventure story, tripping over themselves to find adjectives fit for Fawcett''s derring-do. Others preferred to focus on Grann''s somewhat ironic attempt to seek Z himself. And finally, some critics had it both ways, since, by the end of the book, Grann claims to have actually found Z, or something like it, with only British writer Simon Winchester willing to cry "the horror!" at his American colleague''s lack of skepticism.
Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC

Review

“At once a biography, a detective story and wonderfully vivid piece of travel writing….suspenseful….rollicking….Fascinating….reads with all the pace and excitement of a movie thriller and all the verisimilitude and detail of firsthand reportage, and it seems almost surely destined for a secure perch on the best-seller lists.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“David Grann, recounts Fawcett''s expeditions with all the pace of a white-knuckle adventure story…..What a grand tale it is!....Grann follows its twists and turns admirably. Thoroughly researched, vividly told, this is a thrill ride from start to finish.”
-- The Washington Post

“[O]utstanding….a powerful narrative, stiff lipped and Victorian at the center, trippy at the edges, as if one of those stern men of Conrad had found himself trapped in a novel by García Márquez.” —Rich Cohen, The New York Times Book Review

“[V]ividly alive….What makes Mr. Grann''s telling of the story so captivating is that he decides not simply to go off in search of yet more relics of our absent hero -- but to go off himself in search of the city that Fawcett was looking for so heroically when he suddenly went AWOL.”
--Simon Wincester, The Wall Street Journal

“A fascinating account….Grann expertly juggles narratives….breathtaking clarity of scene and immediacy; any writer who can breathe life into letters written by scientists in the early 1900s deserves more than a hat tip. Grann brings Fawcett''s remarkable story to a beautifully written, perfectly paced fruition.”
-- The Los Angeles Times


“A fascinating yarn that touches on science, history, and some truly obsessive personalities.”
--Entertainment Weekly


“[A] smart biographical page-turner whose vivid narrative chronicles Fawcett''s extraordinary life and harrowing adventures.”– USA Today


“To read “The Lost City of Z” is to feel grateful that Grann himself bothered to set out for the Amazon in search of the bones of an explorer whose body was long ago reclaimed by the jungle.”
-- Christian Science Monitor

"Grann has an extraordinary sense of pacing, and his scenes of forest adventure are dispatched in passages of swift, arresting simplicity." -- Bookforum


“David Grann takes the reader on an extraordinary journey that snakes through expeditionary archives and ends deep in the Amazonian forest. The Lost City of Z is a gripping tale of a lost world and of the magnificent obsession of those who have sought it.” —Caroline Alexander, author of The Bounty and The Endurance

“David Grann''s Lost City of Z is a deeply satisfying revelation–a look into the life and times of one of the last great territorial explorers, P. H. Fawcett, and his search for a lost city in the Amazon. I mean, what could be better–obsession, mystery, deadly insects, shrunken heads, suppurating wounds, hostile tribesmen–all for us to savor in our homes, safely before the fire.”
--Erik Larson, author of Thunderstruck, Devil in the White City and Isaac’s Storm


"Few things are better than experiencing a horrendous adventure from the comfort of your own armchair. Hordes of mosquitoes, poison-arrow attacks, bizarre and fatal diseases, spies in starched collars, hidden outposts of Atlantis -- what''s not to like? The Lost City of Z is like a wonderful 19th-century tale of exotic danger -- except that David Grann''s book is also a sensitively written biographical detective story, a vest pocket history of exploration, and a guide to the new archaeological research that is exploding our preconceptions of the Amazon and its peoples."
--Charles Mann, author of 1491

"The Amazon has had many chroniclers but few who can match David Grann''s grasp of history, science, and especially narrative. Shifting seamlessly between the past and present, THE LOST CITY OF Z is a riveting, totally absorbing real-life adventure story."
--Nathaniel Philbrick, author of Mayflower and In the Heart of the Sea

"The story of Z goes to the heart of the central questions of our age. In the battle between man and a hostile environment, who wins? A fascinating and brilliant book."
--Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and The Tipping Point

"What a wild and adventurous life! In the deft storytelling hands of David Grann, explorer Percy Fawcett emerges as one of the most ambitious, colorful, just plain intrepid figures ever to set foot in the New World. Part Indiana Jones, part Livingstone, and part Kit Carson, Fawcett has found his perfect biographer in Grann, who has gamely endured every conceivable Amazonian hardship to piece together the story of this British swashbuckler and his crazed search for a vanished civilization." — Hampton Sides, author of Blood and Thunder and Ghost Soldiers

"With his riveting work, David Grann emerges on our national landscape as a major new talent. His superb writing style, his skills as a reporter, his masterful use of historical and scientific documents, and his stunning storytelling ability are on full display here, producing an endlessly absorbing tale about a magical subject that captivates from start to finish. This is a terrific book." —Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of a Team of Rivals

“A fantastic story of courage, obsession, and mystery, THE LOST CITY OF Z is gripping from beginning to end. In the pantheon of classic exploration tales, this stands out as one of the best.” —Candice Millard, author The River of Doubt

“A wonderfully researched true story about an intrepid adventurer, a colorful cast, and an obsession that grips both him and the author.”
-- Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein



About the Author

David Grann has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2003. He has written about everything from New York City''s antiquated water tunnels to the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang, from the hunt for the giant squid to the mysterious death of the world''s greatest Sherlock Holmes expert. His stories have appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and The New Republic, where he is also a contributing editor.

From The Washington Post

From The Washington Post''s Book World/washingtonpost.com Reviewed by MARIE ARANA Is there any place so boundlessly captivating as a jungle? Its labyrinth of green. Its rich botanical promise. Its seemingly infinite swarm of life. We sit in our comfortable chairs and imagine its wonders, yet those who truly know it call it "a counterfeit paradise," for despite its allure and splendor, the jungle is profoundly hostile to man. The Inca, who once reigned over much of Latin America, keenly appreciated this. The Amazon to them was the "Antisuyo," the black hole over which they held no dominion, the slough from which their fierce enemies sprang. And so it has been throughout recorded history. The tropical rainforest, experience tells us, is where terrible things happen, where beasts rule and the best of men are likely to grow feral. Think Conrad. Think of the infamous brutalities in the Congo or the Putumayo. Think Vietnam. Among those who would have wanted you to think otherwise was the Englishman Col. Percy Harrison Fawcett, whose quest to locate an ancient civilization in the remote reaches of the Amazon became an obsession. For more than 20 years, he combed that forbidding territory -- roughly the size of the continental United States -- in search of the ruins of a metropolis with highly advanced art and culture. He called it the City of Z. Fawcett wasn''t alone in looking for colossi in the Amazon. For half a millennium, adventurers searched for Paititi, a legendary trove of Inca treasures buried somewhere between Peru and Brazil. European explorers from Francisco de Orellana to Lope de Aguirre sailed the Amazon''s tributaries, hunting the gold of El Dorado. Thousands of thrill-seekers followed. And in 1925, when Fawcett, "the last of the individualist explorers," went missing in that tangle of green, more than 100 men set out to rescue him. His was, as one observer called it, "among the most celebrated vanishing acts of modern times." "The Lost City of Z," by New Yorker writer David Grann, recounts Fawcett''s expeditions with all the pace of a white-knuckle adventure story. The book is a model of suspense and concision. By the end, Grann wins us over with his own hard-won experience. He has geared up, abandoned his family and climbed into the vortex himself -- stung by his subject''s obsession. But Grann differs from Fawcett in two important ways: Unlike the colonel, he knows he is no match for this badland; and equally unlike him, he lives to tell the tale. What a grand tale it is! Fawcett, says Grann, "was the last of the great Victorian explorers who ventured into uncharted realms with little more than a machete, a compass, and an almost divine sense of purpose. For nearly two decades, stories of his adventures had captivated the public''s imagination: how he had survived in the South American wilderness without contact with the outside world; how he was ambushed by hostile tribesmen, many of whom had never before seen a white man; how he battled piranhas, electric eels, jaguars, crocodiles, vampire bats, and anacondas, including one that almost crushed him; and how he emerged with maps of regions from which no previous expedition had returned." He was reviled by his competitors and revered by the world at large. Sponsored by Britain''s Royal Geographical Society, he set out to explore the Amazon at the height of the rubber boom, when trappers were enslaving rainforest Indians by the tens of thousands, creating a human hecatomb for which tribes were seeking revenge. Anyone who has read Fawcett''s chronicles -- the most notable of which is the highly colorful "Exploration Fawcett" -- will recognize the perils, real and exaggerated, that Grann recounts for us here. Apart from the human belligerents he chanced upon in his numerous expeditions, Fawcett met countless physical challenges, which he recorded in detail: sauba ants that could reduce cloth to threads; red, hairy chiggers that fed on human flesh; cyanide-squirting millipedes; parasitic worms that invaded the skin and caused blindness; "kissing bugs" that burrowed into men''s lips and surfaced in their brains 20 years later. He told of candirú, needle-like fish that swam deep into human orifices -- most notoriously, penises -- and hooked themselves in with spines, causing excruciating death. He recounted wonders no one has ever confirmed: snakes that flew through the forest, singing. Grann relates all this in scenes that are interspersed with his own expedition 80 years later. By the time Fawcett made his last trip into the jungle, he was penniless, dismissed as a crank, forced to sell his story in advance to American newspapers. Grann tracks down his surviving family, hunts through his grandchildren''s memorabilia and, with a broken-down samba dancer as guide, follows the secret coordinates to a remote area in Brazil called the Xingu. There he meets an American archaeologist who lives among the Kuikuro but has all the benefits of state-of-the-art instruments. He tells Grann that they are standing on a vast and ancient settlement. He shows him its moat, its palisade walls, its sophisticated geometric design, the scattered remnants of its ceramics. . . . Grann''s voyage, in other words, was no disappointment to him. Nor is it to readers. Although Fawcett''s story cuts through 100 years of complicated history, Grann follows its twists and turns admirably. Thoroughly researched, vividly told, this is a thrill ride from start to finish.
Copyright 2009, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1
WE SHALL RETURN
On a cold January day in 1925, a tall, distinguished gentleman hurried across the docks in Hoboken, New Jersey, toward the S.S. Vauban, a five-hundred-and-eleven-foot ocean liner bound for Rio de Janeiro. He was fifty-seven years old, and stood over six feet, his long arms corded with muscles.

Although his hair was thinning and his mustache was flecked with white, he was so fit that he could walk for days with little, if any, rest or nourishment. His nose was crooked like a boxer''s, and there was something ferocious about his appearance, especially his eyes. They were set close together and peered out from under thick tufts of hair. No one, not even his family, seemed to agree on their color-some thought they were blue, others gray. Yet virtually everyone who encountered him was struck by their intensity: some called them "the eyes of a visionary." He had frequently been photographed in riding boots and wearing a Stetson, with a rifle slung over his shoulder, but even in a suit and a tie, and without his customary wild beard, he could be recognized by the crowds on the pier. He was Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett, and his name was known throughout the world.

He was the last of the great Victorian explorers who ventured into uncharted realms with little more than a machete, a compass, and an almost divine sense of purpose. For nearly two decades, stories of his adventures had captivated the public''s imagination: how he had survived in the South American wilderness without contact with the outside world; how he was ambushed by hostile tribesmen, many of whom had never before seen a white man; how he battled piranha, electric eels, jaguars, crocodiles, vampire bats, and anacondas, including one that almost crushed him; and how he emerged with maps of regions from which no previous expedition had returned. He was renowned as the "David Livingstone of the Amazon," and was believed to have such unrivaled powers of endurance that a few colleagues even claimed he was immune to death. An American explorer described him as "a man of indomitable will, infinite resource, fearless"; another said that he could "outwalk and outhike and outexplore anybody else." The London Geographical Journal, the pre-eminent publication in its field, observed in 1953 that "Fawcett marked the end of an age. One might almost call him the last of the individualist explorers. The day of the aeroplane, the radio, the organized and heavily financed modern expedition had not arrived. With him, it was the heroic story of a man against the forest."

In 1916, the Royal Geographical Society had awarded him, with the blessing of King George V, a gold medal "for his contributions to the mapping of South America." And every few years, when he emerged from the jungle, spidery thin and bedraggled, dozens of scientists and luminaries would pack into the Society''s hall to hear him speak. Among them was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was said to have drawn on Fawcett''s experiences for his 1912 book The Lost World, in which explorers "disappear into the unknown" of South America and find, on a remote plateau, a land where dinosaurs have escaped extinction.

As Fawcett made his way to the gangplank that day in January, he eerily resembled one of the book''s protagonists, Lord John Roxton:
Something there was of Napoleon III, something of Don Quixote, and yet again something which was the essence of the English country gentleman._._._._He has a gentle voice and a quiet manner, but behind his twinkling blue eyes there lurks a capacity for furious wrath and implacable resolution, the more dangerous because they are held in leash.

None of Fawcett''s previous expeditions compared with what he was about to do, and he could barely conceal his impatience, as he fell into line with the other passengers boarding the S.S. Vauban. The ship, advertised as "the finest in the world," was part of the Lamport & Holt elite "V" class. The Germans had sunk several of the company''s ocean liners during the First World War, but this one had survived, with its black, salt-streaked hull and elegant white decks and striped funnel billowing smoke into the sky. Model T Fords shepherded passengers to the dock, where longshoremen helped cart luggage into the ship''s hold. Many of the male passengers wore silk ties and bowler hats; women had on fur coats and feathered caps, as if they were attending a society event, which, in some ways, they were-the passenger lists of luxury ocean liners were chronicled in gossip columns and scoured by young girls searching for eligible bachelors.

Fawcett pushed forward with his gear. His trunks were loaded with guns, canned food, powdered milk, flares, and handcrafted machetes. He also carried a kit of surveying instruments: a sextant and a chronometer for determining latitude and longitude, an aneroid for measuring atmospheric pressure, and a glycerin compass that could fit in his pocket. Fawcett had chosen each item based on years of experience; even the clothes he had packed were made of lightweight, tear-proof gabardine. He had seen men die from the most innocuous seeming oversight-a torn net, a boot that was too tight.

Fawcett was setting out into the Amazon, a wilderness nearly the size of the continental United States, to make what he called "the great discovery of the century"-a lost civilization. By then, most of the world had been explored, its veil of enchantment lifted, but the Amazon remained as mysterious as the dark side of the moon. As Sir John Scott Keltie, the former secretary of the Royal Geographical Society and one of the world''s most acclaimed geographers at the time, noted, "What is there no one knows."

Ever since Francisco de Orellana and his army of Spanish conquistadores descended the Amazon River, in 1542, perhaps no place on the planet had so ignited the imagination-or lured men to their death. Gaspar de Carvajal, a Dominican friar who accompanied Orellana, described woman warriors in the jungle who resembled the mythical Greek Amazons. Half a century later, Sir Walter Raleigh spoke of Indians with "their eyes in their shoulders, and their mouths in the middle of their breasts"-a legend that Shakespeare wove into Othello:
Of the Cannibals that each other eat,
The Anthropophagi and men whose heads
Do grow beneath their shoulders.

What was true about the region-serpents as long as trees, rodents the size of pigs-was sufficiently beyond belief that no embellishment seemed too fanciful. And the most entrancing vision of all was of El Dorado. Raleigh claimed that the kingdom, which the conquistadores had heard about from Indians, was so plentiful in gold that its inhabitants ground the metal into powder and blew it "thorow hollow canes upon their naked bodies untill they be al shining from the foote to the head."

Yet each expedition that had tried to find El Dorado ended in disaster. Carvajal, whose party had been searching for the kingdom, wrote in his diary, "We reached a [state of] privation so great that we were eating nothing but leather, belts and soles of shoes, cooked with certain herbs, with the result that so great was our weakness that we could not remain standing." Some four thousand men died during that expedition alone, of starvation and disease, and at the hands of Indians defending their territory with arrows dipped in poison. Other El Dorado parties resorted to cannibalism. Many explorers went mad. In 1561, Lope de Aguirre led his men on a murderous rampage, screaming, "Does God think that, because it is raining, I am not going to_._._._destroy the world?" Aguirre even stabbed his own child, whispering, "Commend thyself to God, my daughter, for I am about to kill thee." Before the Spanish crown sent forces to stop him, Aguirre warned in a letter, "I swear to you, King, on my word as a Christian, that if a hundred thousand men came, none would escape. For the reports are false: there is nothing on that river but despair." Aguirre''s companions finally rose up and killed him; his body was quartered, and Spanish authorities displayed the head of the "Wrath of God" in a steel cage. Still, for three centuries, expeditions continued to search, until, after a toll of death and suffering worthy of Joseph Conrad, most archeologists had concluded that El Dorado was no more than a delusion.

Fawcett, however, was certain that the Amazon contained a fabulous kingdom, and he was not another soldier of fortune or a crackpot. A man of science, he had spent years gathering evidence to prove his case-digging up artifacts, studying petroglyphs, and interviewing tribes. And after fierce battles with skeptics Fawcett had received funding from the most respected scientific institutions, including the Royal Geographical Society, the American Geographical Society, and the Museum of the American Indian. Newspapers were proclaiming that Fawcett would soon startle the world. The Atlanta Constitution declared, "It is perhaps the most hazardous and certainly the most spectacular adventure of the kind ever undertaken by a reputable scientist with the backing of conservative scientific bodies."

Fawcett had concluded that an ancient, highly cultured people still existed in the Brazilian Amazon and that their civilization was so old and sophisticated it would forever alter the Western view of the Americas. He had christened this lost world the City of Z. "The central place I call ''Z''-our main objective-is in a valley_._._._about ten miles wide, and the city is on an eminence in the middle of it, approached by a barreled roadway of stone," Fawcett had stated earlier. "The houses are low and windowless, and there is a pyramidal temple."

Reporters on the dock in Hoboken, across the Hudson River from Manhattan, shouted questions, hoping to learn the location of Z. In the wake of the technological horrors of the Great War, and amid the spread of urbanization and industrialization, few events so captivated the world. One newspaper exulted, "Not since the days when Ponce de Le—n crossed the unknown Florida in search of the Waters of Perpetual Youth_._._._has a more alluring adventure been planned."

Fawcett welcomed "the fuss," as he described it in a letter to a friend, but he was careful about how he responded. He knew that his main rival, Alexander Hamilton Rice, a multimillionaire American doctor who commanded vast resources, was already entering the jungle with an unprecedented array of equipment. The prospect of Dr. Rice finding Z terrified Fawcett. Several years earlier, Fawcett had watched as a colleague from the Royal Geographical Society, Robert Falcon Scott, had set out to become the first explorer to reach the South Pole, only to discover, shortly before he froze to death, that his Norwegian rival, Roald Amundsen, had beaten him by thirty-three days. In a recent letter to the Royal Geographical Society, Fawcett wrote, "I cannot say all I know, or even be precise as to locality, for these things leak out, and there can be nothing so bitter to the pioneer as to find the crown of his work anticipated."

He was also afraid that if he released details of his route, and others attempted to find Z or rescue
him, it would result in countless deaths. An expedition of fourteen hundred armed men had previously vanished in the same region. A news bulletin telegraphed around the globe declared, "Fawcett Expedition_._._._to Penetrate Land Whence None Returned." And Fawcett, who was resolved to reach the most inaccessible areas, did not intend, like other explorers, to go by boat; rather, he planned to hack straight through the jungle on foot. The Royal Geographical Society had warned that Fawcett "is about the only living geographer who could successfully attempt" such an expedition and that "it would be hopeless for any people to follow in his footsteps." Before he left England, Fawcett confided to his younger son, Brian, "If with all my experience we can''t make it, there''s not much hope for others."

As reporters clamored around him, Fawcett explained that only a small expedition would have any chance of survival. It would be able to live off the land, and not pose a threat to hostile Indians. The expedition, he had stated, "will be no pampered exploration party, with an army of bearers, guides and cargo animals. Such top-heavy expeditions get nowhere; they linger on the fringe of civilization and bask in publicity. Where the real wilds start, bearers are not to be had anyway, for fear of the savages. Animals cannot be taken because of lack of pasture and the attack of insects and bats. There are no guides, for no one knows the country. It is a matter of cutting equipment to the absolute minimum, carrying it all oneself, and trusting that one will be able to exist by making friends with the various tribes one meets." He now added, "We will have to suffer every form of exposure._._._._We will have to achieve a nervous and mental resistance, as well as physical, as men under these conditions are often broken by their minds succumbing before their bodies."

Fawcett had chosen only two people to go with him: his twenty-one-year-old son, Jack, and Jack''s best friend, Raleigh Rimell. Although they had never been on an expedition, Fawcett believed that they were ideal for the mission: tough, loyal, and, because they were so close, unlikely, after months of isolation and suffering, "to harass and persecute each other"-or, as was common on such expeditions, to mutiny. Jack was, as his brother Brian put it, "the reflection of his father": tall, frighteningly fit, and ascetic. Neither he nor his father smoked cigarettes or drank. Brian noted that Jack''s "six feet three inches were sheer bone and muscle, and the three chief agents of bodily degeneration-alcohol, tobacco and loose living-were revolting to him." Colonel Fawcett, who followed a strict Victorian code, put it slightly differently: "He is_._._._absolutely virgin in mind and body."

Jack, who had wanted to accompany his father on an expedition since he was a boy, had spent years preparing-lifting weights, maintaining a rigid diet, studying Portuguese, and learning how to navigate by the stars. Still, he had suffered little real deprivation, and his face, with its luminescent skin, crisp mustache, and slick brown hair, betrayed none of the hardness of his father''s. With his stylish clothes, he looked more like a movie star, which is what he hoped to become upon his triumphant return.

Raleigh, though smaller than Jack, was still nearly six feet tall and muscular. (A "fine physique," Fawcett told the R.G.S.) His father had been a surgeon in the Royal Navy and had died of cancer in 1917, when Raleigh was fifteen. Dark-haired, with a pronounced widow''s peak and a riverboat gambler''s mustache, Raleigh had a jocular, mischievous nature. "He was a born clown," said Brian Fawcett, the "perfect counterpart of the serious Jack." The two boys had been virtually inseparable since they roamed the Devonshire countryside around Seaton, England, where they grew up, riding bicycles and shooting rifles in the air. In a letter to one of Fawcett''s confidants, Jack wrote, "Now we have Raleigh Rimell on board who is every bit as keen as I am._._._._He is the only intimate friend I have ever had. I knew him before I was seven years old and we have been more or less together ever since. He is absolutely honest and decent in every sense of the word and we know each other inside out."

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Scott E. High
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Lots Of Interesting History -- Not Much Action.
Reviewed in the United States on June 6, 2017
I ordered this novel after reading The Lost City Of The Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston. Several reviewers of Mr. Preston''s book referred to The Lost City Of Z as being quite a bit better and more true to what has been regarded as classic archaeology. After... See more
I ordered this novel after reading The Lost City Of The Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston. Several reviewers of Mr. Preston''s book referred to The Lost City Of Z as being quite a bit better and more true to what has been regarded as classic archaeology. After reading it I have to agree with those reviewers. This novel is mainly concerned with the exploration of the Amazon region in the early 1900''s, with the technology of boat motors, airplanes, and short wave radio just beginning to be utilized. Lost City Of The Monkey God is set in today''s time and the explorers have new and up-to-date technology available to help them locate and analyze the ruins that they were searching for.

However, Douglas Preston''s story feels more ''human'' and draws you in from the descriptions of the various obstacles encountered and (sometimes) overcome. His first person descriptions of what he and his team went through take you right into the heart of their group. You encounter the rain, insects, snakes, diseases, and other hardships that they experience. It feels personal, actually uncomfortably personal, making it too easy to put yourself in their shoes and put their pain and discomfort on your own shoulders. Reading The Lost City Of Z was like watching a National Geographic special. Reading The Lost City Of The Monkey God was like watching (and experiencing) the difficulties constantly encountered by participants on the TV show Naked and Afraid.

It took me a while to get into the rhythm of The Lost City Of Z because of the shifting perspectives and time frames. David Grann obviously did a lot of research and utilized many different resources in order to compile a lot of factual and interesting information pertinent to the travails of Percy Fawcett while searching for his ''holy grail''. Colonel Fawcett is to be commended for his drive, intelligence, and physical abilities in being able to challenge such difficult conditions over and over again. His accomplishments in helping to map previously unexplored regions are surprising and extremely admirable considering the myriad obstacles encountered.

Unfortunately, while each has its place, The Lost City Of Z reads more like a history book while The Lost City Of The Monkey God is a living and breathing adventure. Each to his own.
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mparker
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
History, adventure, science, and action all rolled into one! And its non-fiction?
Reviewed in the United States on July 2, 2016
I loved reading this book because of its diversity. You get a well rounded history from multiple accounts of the many cursed expeditions into the Amazon. The crazy men who dared to do it (both present and past), violent tribal peoples (though you understand why they''re so... See more
I loved reading this book because of its diversity. You get a well rounded history from multiple accounts of the many cursed expeditions into the Amazon. The crazy men who dared to do it (both present and past), violent tribal peoples (though you understand why they''re so hostile to foreigners), the nearly impassable Amazon terrain, the odd and bizarre creatures that reside their, and in the end, a plausible archaeologically based theory behind why people thought there was a large rich city once in the Amazon. Like all things, people''s imaginations run wild, but the author also brings you back down the earth with the reality of the jungle which left me with the overall conclusion that these grandiose theories of a Lost City of Z were really just grand exaggerations of much more practical evidence of a fairly developed, but long lost, past civilization.

Some people criticize the book for only getting to the final expedition at the very end of the book. But I believe this criticism is unwarranted. You can''t just jump into the final expedition without getting the backstory and context of the people, place, and time. I feel the author did a marvelous job of jumping around and pacing the book, so that when you get to the final expedition, you''re well versed in the context and prepared to understand why things went down the way they did.

Fantastic read, and I shall keep this book as a permanent fixture in my collection. Too bad I only got it in paperback... dang.
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MG
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Good reading for explorers
Reviewed in the United States on September 28, 2017
I found this book interesting in many ways. It was easy to read since it touched many subjects that are familiar to me. The book covers historic facts of the Victorian age and its influence in the world but specially South America and the countries of Bolivia and Brazil... See more
I found this book interesting in many ways. It was easy to read since it touched many subjects that are familiar to me. The book covers historic facts of the Victorian age and its influence in the world but specially South America and the countries of Bolivia and Brazil whose Amazonian region was and is difficult to explore or study. It is well balanced since the book covers many areas that help understand different points of view of previous times compared to present times. I found answers to questions that come up as you read this book. For instance, to refer to the tribes that populate the Amazonian forests as savages, made me question who is anyone to judge, specially after the atrocities of WWI, described in the book as well as all the inhuman spectacle of WW2. Also, it explains what was happening in the areas related to the fields he got to be involved in like archeology and the discovery of Machu Pichu which may have influenced him.
Fawcett’s motivations could have been banal if they were glory or becoming famous but he showed an ethical position not usual in his time which was to approach the indigenous people in a non violent way, trying not to use arms and ordering to drop arms even if danger was felt. He would raise his hands and confront the Indians which gave him good results since he got to be treated as a sort of friend. This respectful behavior, considering the times, was something positive to take in account when trying to define Fawcett''s personality which could show his humanity, something to learn from him. Now, consider that Indiana Jones is partly based in the real life of Percy Fawcett and P.F. is one of the characters of one of his movies; however, Indiana Jones had no problem in shooting for entertainment.
Having lived in Bolivia and having done some exploration myself I may have a different take to this adventure. To start, one of Fawcett''s motivation was as normal as to answer why people climb mountains, the answer is,” because it''s there". I have done hiking going from La Paz at 12000 ft. above sea level to about 15000 ft. and then down to the tropics of Yungas which is the start of the Amazonian jungle all along an Inca road which was partly well preserved considering hundreds of years of use. After getting familiar with this subtropical region, it happened that I read The mines of King Salomon and this book, cited in Grann''s book as well, inspired me to go farther. My plan was to go to an uncharted area in the forest called Madidi, which is a national park now. My motivation was just to see what no one else has seen. I was able to enlist two university friends who seemed interested but who back down at the last minute. Next year I tried again but I had a sudden back ache problem. Going back to the book, Fawcett''s intentions may have been to attain fame by finding not El Dorado but something like Machu Pichu which was “found” in 1911. He visited Cusco and Tiahuanacu and was able to marvel at the achievements of these civilizations. But destiny put him in the Bolivian jungle with the aid of the British government, it wasn''t something that he was looking for but that opened his eyes and his innate explorer spirit.
Before I even finished reading this book I was compelled to read about the original source, Percy Fawcett''s own words, compiled in a book “Lost trail, lost cities” by Brian Fawcett, his son. By reading it, I found out that in his first trip he was hired by the Bolivian government, P. Fawcett does not mention Brazil in the first expedition which was actually work. Now, there are historical details that are not clear. The border problem between Bolivia and Brazil was already established in 1903 after a short war between these two countries and the result was the annexation of the Acre, an area of 190,000 square Kilometers (75,000 sq mls), more than ¾ the size of UK. By the way, something that this book could have in next edition is a better map, the map of Bolivia is not clear.
There are details in the Fawcett''s book that could have been part of Grann''s book or even the movie, like the moment when, after departing La Paz, one of many mules P.F. had, runs away and that was the mule that had the $£1000 in gold he received as part of the payment from the Bolivian government, an interesting historical detail, a “jingling treasure” in the saddle bags. However, Fawcett explains that the mule was brought back by local people who he rewarded. P .F. describes foreigners by name but there is no mention of Bolivian dignitaries with the exception of the president of Bolivia who was taking matters with his own hands and who knew these lands very well. The region next to the Brazilian border bears his name, Pando.
“All who have lived in these lands and learned to know them fell captive to their irresistible charm”, Fawcett writes as part of his reflexions. Is this one of the motives he kept coming back?
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CG RGM
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Lost Opportunity
Reviewed in the United States on January 1, 2019
After first reading David Grann’s excellent Killers of the Flower Moon, this earlier book on Percy Harrison Fawcett seemed to hold great promise. It does not quite deliver. Despite gaining unprecedented access to Fawcett’s papers and his own trek to the Amazon, Grann never... See more
After first reading David Grann’s excellent Killers of the Flower Moon, this earlier book on Percy Harrison Fawcett seemed to hold great promise. It does not quite deliver. Despite gaining unprecedented access to Fawcett’s papers and his own trek to the Amazon, Grann never seems to capture the remarkable nature of Fawcett’s explorations or the obsession that drove Fawcett on. It is probably unfair to suggest The Lost City of Z was the result of an early onset midlife crisis, but sometimes that is what it feels like in the reading. In succeeding years, though, Grann has found his voice, if his story of the FBI and the Osage murders is any indication. So, readers who want to spend time with Grann should skip Z and go right to Flower Moon.
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daveyd
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A riveting compelling tale of adventure
Reviewed in the United States on September 6, 2018
"... everything in this story is true; explorers died from starvation, disease, wild animal attacks, poisoned arrows.. all before Christopher Columbus and the New World ever pronounced Baton Rouge.. A destiny of passion to explore began early in life for Colonel Percy... See more
"... everything in this story is true; explorers died from starvation, disease, wild animal attacks, poisoned arrows.. all before Christopher Columbus and the New World ever pronounced Baton Rouge..
A destiny of passion to explore began early in life for Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett. His ultimate obsession was to discover a lost civilization inside the Amazon: The lost City of Z. Similar in size to the continental United States, much of it was unexplored but known welcoming ruminations would not exclude yellow fever, vampire bats, ticks, starvation, blood-sucking gnats, malaria, dysentery, coral snakes, poison-skin frogs, parasitic sand flies, maggots inside sores, pus and worms from gangrene, electric eels, ....
As the City of Z and its imagined calypsos of events finally manifested are described on this book''s final page: "For the moment I could see this vanished world as if it were right in front of me. Z..."
As readers advance from one chapter to another one must wonder if sanity is truly within a passion where all the above supplants a living room armchair within reach of liquid pacifiers and chocolate covered palliatives?
5 people found this helpful
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Mesmerizing!!!
Reviewed in the United States on September 14, 2021
I was completely caught up in this book. I had heard a bit about the lost city of z and Colonel Fawcett but never in this much detail. The author clearly did painstaking research to capture the full story (that’s available) and presented it perfectly for the reader. I... See more
I was completely caught up in this book. I had heard a bit about the lost city of z and Colonel Fawcett but never in this much detail. The author clearly did painstaking research to capture the full story (that’s available) and presented it perfectly for the reader. I enjoyed the juxtaposition between the past and present between chapters and the overall flow of the book. Honestly it was a fun and entertaining read that had me constantly looking up information on my own, wanting to know as much as possible about this topic. The mystery behind this story is compelling and something that really truly draws you in. Personally I find the jungle and it’s mysteries fascinating. The age of exploration might be no more, but reading this book allows those of us interested in exploring to live those days through these stories.
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Jessica
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
What Really Happened to Percy Fawcett - and El Dorado
Reviewed in the United States on January 21, 2017
While I originally bought this to read of the author''s adventure, what I found - and enjoyed - was an in-depth historical review, exhaustively researched and presented, of Fawcett and his Amazon obsessions. The story is interwoven with the author''s steps,... See more
While I originally bought this to read of the author''s adventure, what I found - and enjoyed - was an in-depth historical review, exhaustively researched and presented, of Fawcett and his Amazon obsessions.

The story is interwoven with the author''s steps, undertaken internationally, in research and, finally, into the Amazon itself.

For me, the work was a bit slow starting, but I''ve enjoyed it: Not only did I discover many preconceived notions I had of the Amazon to be flawed, but I also gained a new appreciation for South Americas geography and how difficult it is to survive a jungle expedition there. (The insect stories alone will horrify most readers.)

Finally, I''m going to have to buy 1491 now, given the author''s discussion re same.
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jdk
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Bring a mosquito net and machete
Reviewed in the United States on May 15, 2017
When you read this the jungle sort of invades your world. If you''ve seen Jumanji you know what I mean. You might want to read this under a mosquito net. When it comes to non-fiction books I am thoroughly won over by those that weave an interesting historical or... See more
When you read this the jungle sort of invades your world. If you''ve seen Jumanji you know what I mean. You might want to read this under a mosquito net.

When it comes to non-fiction books I am thoroughly won over by those that weave an interesting historical or scientific topic into its context. Those that pull on the interesting and relevant threads while presenting the subject matter as emergent from the context of forces and trends. I might call this a systems approach. An approach that never inspects one brick without the brick wall in which that brick is embedded. Certainly the linear details of the individual brick can be catalogued and used as a narrative backbone, but we want to place that within the system characteristics from which the phenomenon emerges. This makes the topic more interesting, more relevant, more consistent with reality and, it seems to me, helps resist that drift toward historical determinism. Historical determinism being that tendency to view history as a series of events that were inevitable. The book Tambora by Gillen D’arcy Wood is an exemplar of this contextual approach. David Grann, in The Lost City of Z, also, satisfyingly, places the narrative of Percy Fawcett within it’s worldly context. Grann takes the reader along on his own adventures and misadventures which not only shadow Fawcett’s but also provides a valuable counterpoint to the biology and anthropology of Fawcett’s time.

If it was me I would have flipped the subtitle and title because that word, obsession, for me, captures Fawcett. His obsessive, single minded focus on an objective while seeking out only confirmational information and rejecting anything contradictory.
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Top reviews from other countries

Sarah-Lou
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Two treasure hunts in one
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 23, 2017
This was like reading about two treasure hunts rolled into one. The Lost City of Z recounts how Percy Fawcett, his son and his son''s friend set off into the Amazon rainforest in 1925 to find the City of Z, or El Dorado. Fawcett was an experienced and seasoned explorer with...See more
This was like reading about two treasure hunts rolled into one. The Lost City of Z recounts how Percy Fawcett, his son and his son''s friend set off into the Amazon rainforest in 1925 to find the City of Z, or El Dorado. Fawcett was an experienced and seasoned explorer with incredibly physical and mental resilience against the climate, diseases, bugs and animals the Amazon greeted him with. However, he and his two companions disappeared and despite several search parties, was never heard from again. Rumors were rife as to their fate (death by starvation, murdered by an Amazon tribe, killed by animals, living with an Amazonian community and even existing in a type of parallel universe) but none fully substantiated. With unprecedented access to Fawcett''s private letters, journals and maps, the author, David Grann, sets out on his own treasure hunt to try and find out what happened to Fawcett and whether or not he did find Z- the city of legend. Grann did not only dig in libraries and archives, but went to the Amazon, himself, attempting to find Fawcett''s trail. Not an easy feat, as Fawcett kept his exact path secret, hoping to make sure he was not pipped to the post by rival explorer Dr Rice. Grann''s descriptions of the Amazon and the hardships of the landscape actually take you there. You feels his frustration when he hits dead ends. This does not feel like reading from a history book. Grann alternates Fawcett''s journey with his own and also provides background as to why Fawcett felt the need to go on this quest and several before. A great read.
20 people found this helpful
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Sallee
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Stick with it!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 6, 2017
As a complete layman (I thought it was a novel) I almost gave up reading when I realized it was a more complex book than that. I persevered and then got into the ''rythm'' of the '' who was who''. I wish I had read this interesting and inspiring book when I was a youngster. I...See more
As a complete layman (I thought it was a novel) I almost gave up reading when I realized it was a more complex book than that. I persevered and then got into the ''rythm'' of the '' who was who''. I wish I had read this interesting and inspiring book when I was a youngster. I (at 73) have never been remotely interested in this subject - until now. I have some catching up to do.
18 people found this helpful
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timballoo
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 26, 2017
I loved the story and I think it is well told. It''s slightly predictable format of paralleling the author''s journey with that of Percival Fawcett but it is such a great story that it doesn''t really matter. The research is thorough and the writing evokes place and time very...See more
I loved the story and I think it is well told. It''s slightly predictable format of paralleling the author''s journey with that of Percival Fawcett but it is such a great story that it doesn''t really matter. The research is thorough and the writing evokes place and time very well. The consequences of Fawcett''s decisions and actions aren''t always explored. He seems to be a character that goes on when others falter and that is their hardship to deal with. I found him to be an interesting if not sympathetic character. I suspect that we will always be left with the feeling that there is more to know.
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Paddington
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Perfectly judged book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 4, 2010
A real gem this, and my favourite book of 2009. An absolutely perfect book for those lovers of adventure and old romance, and any who feel that giddy ''grip'' on the imagination when they think of El Dorado, conquistadors, clouds of poison darts, perilous rope bridges and...See more
A real gem this, and my favourite book of 2009. An absolutely perfect book for those lovers of adventure and old romance, and any who feel that giddy ''grip'' on the imagination when they think of El Dorado, conquistadors, clouds of poison darts, perilous rope bridges and cities of gold. I dare say any with a passing interest in South America would also greatly enjoy it. That continent interested me about as much as a bucket of beige paint, but after this wonderful book I have sought out as many books and articles about it as I could - everything from William H. Prescott to Hiram Bingham. None, as yet, have quite satisfied the fascination aroused here - certainly not so wholly as Grann manages to. Interweaving the modern-day investigations of the author, and the historic efforts of British explorer Col Fawcett to find the Lost City of Z, it is a compelling, fascinating read. A wonderful mixture of old and new. May the author turn his attentions to other such men who walked off the edge of the map and, if they found not the empires of wonder they aimed for, nevertheless mightily enlarged the hearts and fancies of man and boy alike for ages after.
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Scrutineyes
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A real adventure tale
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 4, 2018
A book that keeps one interested all the way through. I had heard of Colonel Fawcett many years ago but knew nothing of his story or the kind of man he was, all I knew was that he had gone into the Amazon and never returned. We may never find out what actually happened to...See more
A book that keeps one interested all the way through. I had heard of Colonel Fawcett many years ago but knew nothing of his story or the kind of man he was, all I knew was that he had gone into the Amazon and never returned. We may never find out what actually happened to him and his last party that went on their final exploration but this book gives good evidence of what is the most likely answer. Read and enjoy.
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