Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Honey, I'm Going to the Amazon

The Lost City of Z by David Grann is a fascinating look at exploring the Amazon in the early 20th century.  One man in particular, Percy Harrison Fawcett, is the main focus of this story about obsession with an elusive city called "Z".

Fawcett was an amazing man.  Tough, strong, and seemingly impervious to  the many illnesses that befell his companions in the Amazon, he accomplished in months what it would take other explorers years to do:  He mapped unknown areas of the Amazon between Brazil and Peru; he traveled through treacherous territory where others were killed by native tribes, and he wrote copious letters home describing everything he saw.  He was a member of the Royal Geographical Society, and was famous in his time.

His final quest was in 1925.  He had become convinced, through studying maps and letters from early European explorers, that a lost city existed deep in the Amazon.  He was determined to be the first man to find it.  Traveling with him was his son Jack and Jack's best friend Raleigh.  His communications were followed by numerous newspapers around the world, until suddenly they stopped.  After a few years, his wife Nina was convinced he would be back.  When he never returned, dozens of explorers over the next 20 years risked their own lives to travel into the Amazon, looking for signs and hopefully finding Fawcett.  What happened to Fawcett, Jack, and Raleigh?  Were they killed by hostile tribes, did they die from disease, or starve?  Did they find the city of Z?

This book was very enjoyable.  I can't believe these men actually went into the Amazon and endured pretty horrific conditions  because they were driven to explore.  This was the last great time to see unexplored regions of our planet; it's kinda sad to know there really aren't any mysteries left.  The author, David Grann, becomes increasingly intrigued by Fawcett's story, and decides to travel to the Amazon 85 years after Fawcett's disappearance, to finally get some answers.  What he discovers is surprising and a suitable end to the quest for the Lost City of Z.

Relax on your porch, spray some bug repellent around, and dive into this entertaining read.  You will never look at our mosquitos quite the same again.


  1. I'm packing my bags -when do we leave? Wait, they have pubs in the Amazon, right?

  2. ummm, no. We can get a leg full of maggots, though. They like to attach themselves to you and invade when you're alive!!! ick ick ick