Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Lost City of Z by David Grann

The Lost City of Z is incredibly popular right now. I think it just came out in paperback. I remember hearing about this book and having a passing interest in it. And then I saw the National Geographic articles about the new satellite images that show roads and geometric patterns in the Amazon. I've always been interested in ancient cultures and have even visited Mayan ruins. I will admit to always having had a romantic Indiana Jones-esque daydreaming tendency.

The author, David Grann, learns of the famous lost explorer "Colonel" Percy Fawcett and is completely intrigued. Throughout the course of the book, Grann extrapolates the life and adventures of Fawcett using previously unreleased documentation from his descendants. Fawcett is an astounding character - arrogant and sure, determined, innovative. The story of his life and how he came to be an explorer was fascinating. It almost read like fiction - which makes it all the more amazing, because it's all true! Grann brings to life a man that few ever realized existed. In addition to research, Grann also undertakes his own trek into the Amazon to discover the fate of Fawcett and his party. His experiences are amazing to consider an average person embarking on. The conclusions that he comes to are those of an extremely educated and logical mind.

Overall, this book was fantastic. The history mixed with adventure is sure to excite even the most jaded readers. Grann did a remarkable job of showing the cultural and environmental importance of the Amazon while not straying from his main topic. I didn't think this book would grip me the way that it did, but honestly I found myself unable to put it down. It is definitely something I'd recommend to others.

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