Thursday, February 16, 2017

"The Lost City of Z" by David Grann

The Lost City of Z:  A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann had been languishing in my to-read pile for the last few years. I was finally prompted to pick it up when I learned about an upcoming movie adaptation (to be released in April) (and I love that, in the trailers I've seen, they pronounce "Z" as "Zed," in the British/Canadian fashion!).

I don't know why books like "The Lost City of Z" (and, for example, "Into the Silence" by Wade Davis, a few years back) fascinate me so much. I loved learning about North American explorers such as Samuel de Champlain and Pierre de la Verendrye and Alexander Mackenzie when I was in school -- and Daniel Boone was my childhood hero! -- so maybe it's the allure of discovering new worlds. (Or perhaps it's because I know it's something I would never, ever do myself, lol.)

"The Lost City of Z" tells the true story of British explorer Percy Fawcett, who made multiple trips to the Amazon jungle in the early part of the 20th century -- first to map the region for the Royal Geographic Society, and then to pursue his growing obsession with finding a lost city of untold riches. Some called it El Dorado;  Fawcett called it Z. Fawcett, along with his son Jack, disappeared into the jungle for the final time in 1925 in search of Z. The book also tells the stories of subsequent expeditions mounted to learn what happened to Fawcett -- including the author's personal journey to pick up the trail, more than 75 years later.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. Having said that, I'm debating whether to see the movie. Be forewarned, this is not a book for the squeamish (it doesn't overly dwell on the "ick" factor -- but it's there...), and I can just imagine how it will translate onto film...! Reading about the bugs, snakes (like Indiana Jones, I HATE SNAKES), parasites, piranhas, cannibals (!) and other creatures that have made exploration of the Amazon so difficult was cringe-inducing (and reminded me why I haven't been camping in 40 years, let alone trekking into the Amazon).  Fawcett and his men (not to mention their poor horses and other animals) endured incredible hardship, and it's amazing to me that he returned not just once but several times over the years (he came to believe he was invincible). It was also sobering to read the author's descriptions of what's happened to the Amazon in the years since Fawcett first explored the area:  huge swaths of the jungle have been clearcut or burned in the name of commerce, altering the ecosystem, perhaps irreversably.

The ending was not quite what I expected, and still leaves many questions unanswered -- but it was satisfying in its own way.  (Kind of like life after infertility & loss, lol.) 

This was book #4 that I've read so far in 2017, bringing me to 17% of my Goodreads Reading Challenge Goal for this year of 24 books.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! Sounds so interesting, I have to read it! I just placed a library hold (8 people are ahead of me, ughh :( ).