The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon - David Grann This was a very good read. There are two stories in one in this book. One is the story of Henry Percy Fawcett, a British explorer of the late 19th century/early 20th century. He is in the vein of other great explorers such as Shackleton or Stanley. His explorations took him to the Amazon, where he went to seek the mythical city of Z, the El Dorado conquistadores looked for. In 1925, he vanished without a trace. We move to the author who is on a quest not only to tell Fawcett's story, but to trace the explorer's path and find out his fate. Mind you that such an errand, trying to find Fawcett, has claimed the lives of at least 100 people. If you like adventure tales and reading about explorers in the tradition of fiction works like H. Rider Haggard or Arthur Conan Doyle, whose Professor Challenger may have been inspired by Fawcett, then you will like this book. If you like reading about mysteries, you will probably like this book as well. The author wrote this in a way that it reads like a good adventure novel and biography all rolled up into one. It grips the reader from the beginning, and it does not let go. Even though you know Fawcett's fate from the start, you find yourself wondering if he will be found or not (I am not spoiling it). Fawcett himself was a larger than life explorer, the last of the great explorers before things like anthropology and archeology along with other specializations took shape as we know them today. Back then, it was a man, a machete, a compass, and off to the jungle to find whatever it was there, catalog it, and report on it. Thus Fawcett was trained in various skills to accomplish his task. And there are other cast members, his sons, his wife, other rival explorers, who add to the story. Meanwhile, the author embarks on his own adventure to seek out Fawcett's trail and fate. In the process, we not only get a history of a great explorer, but we also learn about some of the history of Amazon territory as well. We learn how modern science has advanced as well when it comes to studying native tribes and the jungle itself. We also get a glimpse of British mores and society during and right after the Victorian era. In other words, this is not only a riveting read, but you learn a few things as well. It is early in the new year of 2011, but I think this may be one of the best books I will have read this year. I definitely recommend it.