I’m not entirely sure how I ended up getting my hands on this one-or how I let it sit on the shelf for so long, but I’m glad I finally took the time to read this one. What an exciting book/adventure/story/legend!
In the early twentieth century (1920s), Percy Fawcett led a number of expeditions into the depths of the Amazon in South America in search for the lost city of El Dorado, a city he coded as “Z.” In 1925 Fawcett, along with his son and other expedition party members, disappeared and were never heard from again. While the search for Z in many ways consumed Fawcett, his disappearance has caused such a buzz that it is estimated 100 people have also died in the search for Fawcett’s remains.
In The Lost City of Z, David Grann, a journalist and columnist, delves into the Amazon and searches for answers to the mystery surrounding Percy Fawcett’s disappearance. It is evident that Grann has done his research, not just on the life of Fawcett, but also on the numerous other expeditions into the Amazon before and after Fawcett’s disappearance. Grann must have looked at a ton of resources because the book is brimming with information, but one thing that I really appreciated was how Grann included his quotations and secondary information seamlessly. The facts and material he used never felt out of place or even superfluous—even the details about other sometimes non-related events occurring during Fawcett’s time were fascinating.
This book could not be more interesting—well, it could be, but if I explained then I’d be giving something exciting away and you want to find that out for yourself, don’t you? Even though the book is relatively short at 300 pages, there is so much crammed in—information about Fawcett and his explorations, information about the Amazon and the tribes that currently live there (what little is known), information about the flora and fauna of the Amazon and all over fascinating tidbits (lots of information about contemporaries of Fawcett including Arthur Conan Doyle whose The Lost World is loosely based on Fawcett and his search for Z). There are some aspects, especially near the end, that I would have liked to know more about, but I think the reason why Grann does not provide more information is because of the lack of information in general on said topic (my lips are sealed!).
Would you enjoy this book? Sure! I just passed it on to my mom and I hope she likes it. While it isn’t incredibly gripping, it isn’t dry either. Non-fiction sometimes gets such a bad rap for being boring—the author shoving too many facts in your face or not incorporating research material well or stilted writing—but this book is very readable. While I don’t think we will ever know just what happened to Percy Fawcett once he disappeared, Grann compiles and interprets all of his research in a way that posits a very realistic theory. Overall a very exciting book—you know those books you read and you want to tell everyone you see little tiny details? This is definitely one of those—especially when it comes to the bugs in the Amazon—my favorite being the “eye licker.” I found myself saying over and over, “Oh my gosh—listen to this!” If you’re on the fence about this one, check out David Grann’s website. Still on the fence? Did I mention a Lost City of Z movie in 2010 with….Brad Pitt??
What’s the most exciting non-fiction book you’ve read? (The Devil in the White City by Larson is probably mine).