The Lost City of Z by David Grann

I bought The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon at a bookstore called Talk Story on the island of Kaua’i. It is considered the westernmost bookstore in the United States.

I heard about this book a long time ago but never felt like reading it until now. The other book I read about exploring the Amazon was The River of Doubt. That book was about Theodore Roosevelt’s trip and I highly recommend it. I also highly recommend this one! The biggest lesson from both books is that you have to be insane to be one of the first people to explore the Amazon. It is not for the faint of heart, which Fawcett will complain about a lot throughout his journeys.

This book is about a British explorer named Percy Fawcett and his disappearance in the Amazon in. 1925. If you want to know what happened to him and the two men who disappeared with him you won’t be happy with the ending because you won’t find out. Don’t worry though, that is not a spoiler. The book tells you so at the beginning.

Over the next decade and a half, he conducted one expedition after another in which he explored thousands of miles of the Amazon and helped redraw the map of South America. During that time, he was often as neglectful of his wife and children as his parents had been of him.

I felt as if it was more a history of exploring the Amazon rather than Fawcett’s adventure. I don’t mind, but other readers might not want to read it because of that. The story of his life weaves through the book so you can get an idea of what kind of man he was. The last third of the book goes into more detail of his disappearance, but because Fawcett did a number of trips to the Amazon you get to learn about all of them. His first few explorations are important because it really paints a picture of how rough it was in the rainforest. Deadly and obsession are the perfect words to describe the entire book. So many people died or went missing trying to find him, not to mention Fawcett himself was so obsessed with finding this mystical land he called Z, that it led to his demise. All in all it’s a worthwhile narrative nonfiction book to read.

The Maxubis, in particular, showed evidence of a sophisticated culture, he thought. They made exquisite pottery and had names for the planets. “The tribe is also exceedingly musical,” Fawcett noted. Describing their songs, he added “In the utter silence of the forest, when the first light of day had stilled the nightlong uproar of insect life, these hymns impressed us greatly with their beauty.”

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