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The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon (2009)

by David Grann

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,3652432,199 (3.89)447
After stumbling upon a hidden trove of diaries, New Yorker writer David Grann set out to solve "the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth century": what happened to British explorer Percy Fawcett. In 1925 Fawcett ventured into the Amazon to find an ancient civilization. For centuries Europeans believed the world's largest jungle concealed the glittering El Dorado. Thousands had died looking for it, leaving many convinced that the Amazon was truly inimical to humankind. But Fawcett had spent years building his scientific case. Captivating the imagination of millions, he embarked with his 21-year-old son, determined to prove that this ancient civilization--which he dubbed "Z"--existed. Then he and his expedition vanished. Fawcett's fate--and the clues he left behind--became an obsession for hundreds who followed him. As Grann delved deeper into Fawcett's mystery, and the greater mystery of the Amazon, he found himself irresistibly drawn into the "green hell."--From publisher description.… (more)
  1. 100
    The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey by Candice Millard (bogreader)
  2. 50
    1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann (tahoegirl)
  3. 20
    Crossing the Heart of Africa: An Odyssey of Love and Adventure by Julian Smith (fyrefly98)
    fyrefly98: They take place on different continents, but both are stories of Victorian explorers, with interwoven tales of the modern biographers/journlists who retrace their paths.
  4. 10
    Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Explorers Ernest Shackleton and Percy Fawcett were contemporaries; both met disaster in their risky explorations, one to the Amazon and the other to Antarctica. These well-researched accounts are engaging; both will enthrall readers who enjoy historical adventure stories.… (more)
  5. 10
    Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer (g33kgrrl)
  6. 10
    The Mapmaker's Wife: A True Tale of Love, Murder, and Survival in the Amazon by Robert Whitaker (sboyte)
    sboyte: Explorers in the Amazon.
  7. 10
    Foreign Devils on the Silk Road: The Search for the Lost Cities and Treasures of Chinese Central Asia by Peter Hopkirk (baobab)
    baobab: Imperialist explorers in a different environment, these men loot the archeological riches of Central Asia and China while pursuing nefarious plots for their home governments.
  8. 00
    The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon's Last Uncontacted Tribes by Scott Wallace (Akubra)
  9. 00
    Running the Amazon by Joe Kane (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: The ancient ruins and lush jungles of South America inspire great adventures, including following in the footsteps of a (failed) 1925 exploration (The Lost City of Z) and a dangerous kayak trip down the entire Amazon River (Running the Amazon).… (more)
  10. 01
    Esqueleto na Lagoa Verde (Em Portuguese do Brasil) by Antônio Callado (Ronoc)
  11. 01
    CORONEL FAWCETT A VERDADEIRA HISTORIA DO INDIANA JONES by Hermes Leal (Ronoc)
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» See also 447 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 241 (next | show all)
I see there is also a movie full of hotties by this name. Will add it to my TBW list.
  Jinjer | Aug 12, 2022 |
The Lost City of Z is a spellbinding triumph that recounts perhaps the most fascinating story from Victorian era exploration and its last great explorer, Percy Fawcett, and his life-long obsession with finding a legendary lost ancient city buried in the heart of the Amazon. Despite his superhuman mental and physical strength and endurance across multiple expeditions, ultimately, the gargantuan mysterious jungle swallowed him whole in the late 1920s, leaving his family and friends—and the entire world—to wonder about his fate--perhaps the most enduring mystery of the age of exploration. Grann plunges us back into this era to answer that question.

Rarely has a book so captivated me at the perfect intersection of my interests — explorers, the Victorian era, and the history of discovery. Victorian exploration and discovery is quite simply my jam.
I know I’m 15 years late to the party here, but Grann’s thoroughbred cracker of a story sets a new standard for me in this genre. I simply could not put it down. I also love how the multiple accounts I've been reading of exploration from this era come together and connect through overlapping characters and stories.

I was captivated by Fawcett’s singular focus on finding El Dorado, and pitied him for the cost to him and his family of his multi-decade quest. I found his wife and sons equally admirable in their own ways as they grew and supported him in his expeditions, even his younger son Brian whom Fawcett did not see fit to follow in his footsteps, but who later in life played an important role in telling his father’s story.

Not only was Fawcett an explorer for the ages, and recognized as such by the Royal Geographical Society for his mapping of great swaths of the unknown interior of South America and her flora, fauna, and people, but he also responded to the call to fight for the British Empire on the Western Front in WWI. Fawcett was “bred by the RGS to be an explorer”.

Grann deserves enormous credit for throwing himself into this story, quite literally, traveling to Brazil to retrace Fawcett’s footsteps in search of clues, as well as for his masterful weaving of Fawcett’s journals and personal correspondence with family, friends, and colleagues with historical and heretofore private accounts of Fawcett’s life.

Fawcett faced unimaginable physical and mental deprivations on his multi-year expeditions, whether by flesh eating insects, pirawnas, bats, snakes, poisonous frogs, jaguars, microbes, isolation, rebellious and unfit colleagues, and of course, the arrows, clubs and blow darts of native inhabitants who tracked his every move and confronted him innumerable times on his journeys. To his credit, he generally played peacemaker with native tribes, and forbade his companies from using force or weapons during those encounters and attacks.

Meanwhile, at home, his faithful wife shared reports of his trials and triumphs with the press and the RGS. She was dutiful and loyal to him her entire life, and I greatly admired her grit amid her personal deprivations.

Their son Jack and Jack’s best friend joined him on his most significant final expedition, and we live vicariously through all of them thanks to Grann’s superb investigative historical journalism and talent spinning a yarn.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves tales of adventure, exploration, and discovery and who enjoys learning about the hearty and dedicated souls from eras gone by. ( )
  Valparaiso45 | Jul 27, 2022 |
Very readable and interesting ( )
  Luziadovalongo | Jul 14, 2022 |
bookbox; Glad I read The River of Doubt first - it gave a good background on what the rainforest was really like. Grann's book is more about the Geographical society and explorers in the Amazon, as well as Percy Fawcett's life. I never heard of him, nor much about exploring and mapping the Amazon. Fawcett was convinced that there was a lost city, and compared to Roosevelt, he packed much lighter. Although that still didn't help. He never returned from his last exploration, but he was in his late 50s and in the jungle that the indigenous Indians protected, with quite an array of poisons ( )
  nancynova | Jul 5, 2022 |
A great mix of narrative and insightful writing that make this an enjoyable non-fiction. I also appreciated the author giving an account of his own obsession which added to narrative style. But, it also proves the biographies are influenced by the thoughts of the writer as well. ( )
  christyco125 | Jul 4, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 241 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Grannprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cain, DavidCartographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carella, MariaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carina, ClaudioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Deakins, MarkReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Deakins, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dedekind, HenningÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fontana, JohnCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Retina78Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Silva, José Freitas eTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wald, BethCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
At times all I need is a brief glimpse, an opening in the midst of an incongruous landscape, a glint of lights in the fog, the dialogue of two passersby meeting in the crowd, and I think that, setting out from there, I will put together, piece by piece, the perfect city . . . If I tell you that the city toward which my journey tends is discontinuous in space and time, now scattered, now more condensed,
you must not believe the search for it can stop. - Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
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For my intrepid Kyra
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On a cold January day in 1925, a tall, distiguished gentleman hurried across the docks in Hoboken, New Jersey, toward the SS Vauban, a five-hundred-and-eleven-foot ocean liner bound for Rio de Janeiro.
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After stumbling upon a hidden trove of diaries, New Yorker writer David Grann set out to solve "the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth century": what happened to British explorer Percy Fawcett. In 1925 Fawcett ventured into the Amazon to find an ancient civilization. For centuries Europeans believed the world's largest jungle concealed the glittering El Dorado. Thousands had died looking for it, leaving many convinced that the Amazon was truly inimical to humankind. But Fawcett had spent years building his scientific case. Captivating the imagination of millions, he embarked with his 21-year-old son, determined to prove that this ancient civilization--which he dubbed "Z"--existed. Then he and his expedition vanished. Fawcett's fate--and the clues he left behind--became an obsession for hundreds who followed him. As Grann delved deeper into Fawcett's mystery, and the greater mystery of the Amazon, he found himself irresistibly drawn into the "green hell."--From publisher description.

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Contents:

We shall return -- The vanishing -- The search begins -- Buried treasure -- Blank spots on the map -- The disciple -- Freeze-dried ice cream and adrenaline socks -- Into the Amazon -- The secret papers -- The green hell -- Dead Horse Camp -- In the hands of the gods -- Ransom -- The case for Z -- El Dorado -- The locked box -- The whole world is mad -- A scientific obsession -- An unexpected clue -- Have no fear -- The last eyewitness -- Dead or alive -- The colonel's bones -- The other world -- Z.
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