Book Review Series: The Lost City of Z

My thoughts on the book “The Lost City of Z” an insane true story and exciting read by David Grann.

I’ve done a lot of reading over the summer, so I decided to share some of the books and my thoughts on them. I’ll hopefully get around to writing about all of them so there should be seven or eight of these. If you’ve also read any of these books you should mention it to me because talking about books with other people is fun.

You may notice a lot of these books have been adapted into movies or TV shows. I don’t know why but I’m attracted (not in that way) to books that have a kind of second life in TV or cinema. Maybe because I like being the guy who tells you (puts nerd glasses on), “the book was better.”

*In Daenerys Targaryen’s voice*

Shall we begin?

THE LOST CITY OF Z

A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon

By David Grann

IMG_1171City of Z is the true story of Percy Fawcett, famed British explorer who in 1925 went into the Amazon to find a mythical and lost city, which he simply called Z. He never returned and after years without contact he was presumed dead, another victim of the harsh nature of the brutal Amazon.

The non-fiction book is also a chronicle of author David Grann’s research of Fawcett leading to his own expedition into the Amazon in search of clues leading to the truth of Fawcett’s disappearance. Did the indigenous people or the unforgiving conditions of the jungle kill him? Can a civilization like Z truly have existed in the rainforest, and if so, did Fawcett find it?

You’re lying to yourself if you don’t think that’s an awesome premise for a book. Its got everything: fantastical tales of lost civilizations a real-life Indiana Jones in Fawcett, his mysterious disappearance, the battle of man vs. nature in the deadliest forest in the world, and its all true!

It’s a relatively light and easy read, just a little over 300 pages, and Grann does a tremendous job of balancing the more grandiose elements of the story with his own journalistic skepticism and the gritty nature of exploring in the Amazon.

220px-PercyFawcett
Col. Fawcett looking every bit like the legend his reputation made him out to be.
Colonel Percy Fawcett is an artillery officer, explorer, archaeologist and grade-A badass. He spends most of his life traversing through the Amazon, mapping what was unmapped before him, going where others wouldn’t go or died trying to. He becomes legendary for his athletic prowess, survival skills, exploration accomplishments, and incredible moustache.

Eventually, he gets into his head the idea that an ancient and lost city that at one time contained millions of indigenous people and immeasurable riches is hidden somewhere in the vast rainforest. Conquistadores described seeing such things deep in the Amazon in the 1500s. Since, however, no one has been able to back up such extravagant claims.

Pretty much everyone is like, “Those conquistadores were full of shit, man. There’s no ancient city, only small hunter and gather tribes can survive in the unforgiving Amazon.” But Fawcette’s like, “Oh yeah? I’m gonna find that damn city and y’all will look dumb and I’ll be a hero”.

I mean that’s basically what happened.

Fawcett’s intent to find the lost city makes him an international sensation, and his journey is followed throughout the entire world. His disappearance and the ensuing rescue parties to find Fawcett also make headlines around the world and the mystery of Fawcett becomes one of the biggest stories of the decade if not century.

It’s a great story that’s turned into a fun and engrossing book by Grann. It really is a book for everyone; it has the adventure and romantic themes of a quest novel grounded in the meticulous detail of Grann’s writing and research.

A great non-fiction read for history buffs and an exciting adventure for those more into the fantasies of fiction.

4 out of 5 mustaches

Author: Rob Cowles

Recent graduate of Marquette University.

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