Book Review: The Lost City of Z

Armed with a machete, a compass, and
a near divine sense of direction, Fawcett
is searching, not only for this lost city, but
also for a deeper purpose to his own life.

With a superhuman magnetic persona, a British explorer endeavors to uncover the mysteries of the Amazon in the early twentieth century. In a horrendously perilous adventure, Englishman Percy Fawcett leads his detachment into the depths of new discoveries. It is truly a fresh frontier.
Yet, there is evidence of life lost, evidence of a previous civilization, and evidence that Fawcett’s Indiana Jones-type personality cannot resist. He is drawn to the Amazon like the hordes of mosquitos that wreak havoc on his crew. He returns again and again until one day, the Amazon refuses to release him.
Enduring every conceivable hardship the Amazon can muster, author and New York City native David Grann pieces together the obscure puzzle of a vanished civilization and the men who continued to search for it, no matter the cost. A self-proclaimed city-slicker, Grann confesses to a near obsession while researching The Lost City of Z.
With a fine-tooth comb, Grann tediously examines Fawcett’s diaries, and commits to following what’s been dubbed “the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth century” until it leads him to a satisfying conclusion. He ventures to three continents. He researches even the most minute detail. Eventually, he finds himself in the jungle’s “green hell” like hundreds who attempted the quest before him.
As the 2016 action packed movie showcases, Fawcett endured embarrassing ridicule and mockery from the scientific community. But after his initial discovery of proof that an advanced civilization once inhabited areas which now include parts of Bolivia, Peru, and Brazil, Fawcett’s determination grew even more fierce. Supported by his devoted wife and son, Fawcett confesses to an addictive lure to his beloved jungle.
“But they were so unprepared,” lamented one reader. “More than one hundred people died trying to follow in Fawcett’s footsteps. The deeper into those jungles they traveled, the less likely they were to come out.”
From their perspective and time in history, however, they were prepared. They had more than two dozen pack mules but no malaria meds! How can an explorer prepare for what he does not know exists?
Armed with a machete, a compass, and a near divine sense of direction, Fawcett is searching, not only for this lost city, but also for a deeper purpose to his own life. Debates swirl as to whether he was seeking fame and fortune, or simple satisfaction and surety.
Settings and scenarios from The Lost City of Z provided an adventurous backdrop for stunning conversations within book club.
“The deceptive jungle is harsh. Think about it. At every turn, something has to die to provide nourishment for something else to live,” concluded another reader. It seems the canopies provide shade for choking vines that showed no mercy.
As Grann delves deeper into his subject, there are revealing tales of nearly forgotten people groups. The astounding complexities and diversity of the various tribes were eye-opening. The hunter-gatherers of a near-extinct people shocked readers with atrocities such as cannibalism.
It was 1925 when Fawcett disappeared. Grann believes he has traced Fawcett’s footsteps to the near spot where he was last seen. In a defeating, almost anti-climactic manner, the Xingu Indian tribes tell Grann, as they have been told from previous generations that the white man simply went over the hill and never came back.
Is there more to the terrifying tale? Did Fawcett’s life really end with a jungle stroll that went awry? The Lost City of Z explores expeditions of man in nature as well as man’s very nature. It offers fascinating insight into what lies beneath the Amazon’s mysterious floor and what lies beneath the very heart of man’s obsessions. For an autumn adventure that is sure to amaze, find and read The Lost City of Z.