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The Lost City of Z
Cover of The Lost City of Z
The Lost City of Z
A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of Killers of the Flower Moon comes a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction that unravels the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth...
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of Killers of the Flower Moon comes a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction that unravels the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth...
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Description-

  • #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of Killers of the Flower Moon comes a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction that unravels the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth century—the story of the legendary British explorer who ventured into the Amazon jungle in search of a fabled civilization and never returned.

    “Suspenseful…rollicking.” —The New York Times

    In 1925, Percy Fawcett went into the Amazon jungle, in search of a fabled civilization. He never returned. Over the years countless perished trying to find evidence of his party and the place he called “The Lost City of Z.” In this masterpiece, journalist David Grann interweaves the spellbinding stories of Fawcett’s quest for “Z” and his own journey into the deadly jungle.

    Look for David Grann’s new book, The Wager, coming in April 2023!
 

Awards-

Excerpts-

  • Chapter One 1
    WE SHALL RETURN
    On a cold January day in 1925, a tall, distinguished gentleman hurried across the docks in Hoboken, New Jersey, toward the S.S. Vauban, a five-hundred-and-eleven-foot ocean liner bound for Rio de Janeiro. He was fifty-seven years old, and stood over six feet, his long arms corded with muscles.

    Although his hair was thinning and his mustache was flecked with white, he was so fit that he could walk for days with little, if any, rest or nourishment. His nose was crooked like a boxer's, and there was something ferocious about his appearance, especially his eyes. They were set close together and peered out from under thick tufts of hair. No one, not even his family, seemed to agree on their color-some thought they were blue, others gray. Yet virtually everyone who encountered him was struck by their intensity: some called them "the eyes of a visionary." He had frequently been photographed in riding boots and wearing a Stetson, with a rifle slung over his shoulder, but even in a suit and a tie, and without his customary wild beard, he could be recognized by the crowds on the pier. He was Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett, and his name was known throughout the world.

    He was the last of the great Victorian explorers who ventured into uncharted realms with little more than a machete, a compass, and an almost divine sense of purpose. For nearly two decades, stories of his adventures had captivated the public's imagination: how he had survived in the South American wilderness without contact with the outside world; how he was ambushed by hostile tribesmen, many of whom had never before seen a white man; how he battled piranha, electric eels, jaguars, crocodiles, vampire bats, and anacondas, including one that almost crushed him; and how he emerged with maps of regions from which no previous expedition had returned. He was renowned as the "David Livingstone of the Amazon," and was believed to have such unrivaled powers of endurance that a few colleagues even claimed he was immune to death. An American explorer described him as "a man of indomitable will, infinite resource, fearless"; another said that he could "outwalk and outhike and outexplore anybody else." The London Geographical Journal, the pre-eminent publication in its field, observed in 1953 that "Fawcett marked the end of an age. One might almost call him the last of the individualist explorers. The day of the aeroplane, the radio, the organized and heavily financed modern expedition had not arrived. With him, it was the heroic story of a man against the forest."

    In 1916, the Royal Geographical Society had awarded him, with the blessing of King George V, a gold medal "for his contributions to the mapping of South America." And every few years, when he emerged from the jungle, spidery thin and bedraggled, dozens of scientists and luminaries would pack into the Society's hall to hear him speak. Among them was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was said to have drawn on Fawcett's experiences for his 1912 book The Lost World, in which explorers "disappear into the unknown" of South America and find, on a remote plateau, a land where dinosaurs have escaped extinction.

    As Fawcett made his way to the gangplank that day in January, he eerily resembled one of the book's protagonists, Lord John Roxton:
    Something there was of Napoleon III, something of Don Quixote, and yet again something which was the essence of the English country gentleman._._._._He has a gentle voice and a quiet manner, but behind his twinkling blue eyes there lurks a capacity for furious wrath and implacable resolution, the more dangerous because they...

About the Author-

  • DAVID GRANN is the author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON and THE LOST CITY OF Z. KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON was a finalist for The National Book Award and won an Edgar Allan Poe Award. He is also the author of THE WHITE DARKNESS and the collection THE DEVIL AND SHERLOCK HOLMES. Grann's storytelling has garnered several honors, including a George Polk Award. He lives with his wife and children in New York.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from October 13, 2008
    In 1925, renowned British explorer Col. Percy Harrison Fawcett embarked on a much publicized search to find the city of Z, site of an ancient Amazonian civilization that may or may not have existed. Fawcett, along with his grown son Jack, never returned, but that didn't stop countless others, including actors, college professors and well-funded explorers from venturing into the jungle to find Fawcett or the city. Among the wannabe explorers is Grann, a staff writer for the New Yorker
    , who has bad eyes and a worse sense of direction. He became interested in Fawcett while researching another story, eventually venturing into the Amazon to satisfy his all-consuming curiosity about the explorer and his fatal mission. Largely about Fawcett, the book examines the stranglehold of passion as Grann's vigorous research mirrors Fawcett's obsession with uncovering the mysteries of the jungle. By interweaving the great story of Fawcett with his own investigative escapades in South America and Britain, Grann provides an in-depth, captivating character study that has the relentless energy of a classic adventure tale.

  • Library Journal

    November 1, 2008
    Grann, a staff writer at "The New Yorker", gives a gripping, detailed account of the fate of English explorer Percy Fawcett. Fawcett disappeared into the jungles of Brazil in 1925 with his son and his son's best friend. It was not the first time that Fawcett had plunged into Amazonia or confronted pestilence and natives not keen on receiving trespassers. Colonel Fawcett was a soldier, sometime spy, and expert surveyor and explorer who helped define the border between Bolivia and Brazil. But he was primarily obsessed with finding a rumored great city in the jungles of South America, which he simply called Z partly because it did not have a name and partly to throw off others who were looking for it. Grann's experience following this mystery to England and Brazil was an adventure in its own right. He alternates chapters on Fawcett's adventures, based on his diaries and contemporary accounts, with his own and others' efforts to find Fawcett or at least the truth about his demise. Like the books of Simon Winchester (e.g., "The Man Who Loved China"), this is a compelling and entertaining read. Recommended for all public and academic libraries.

    Copyright 2008 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    November 1, 2008
    Percy Fawcett, a celebrated member of the Royal Geographical Society, explored the Amazon the hard way: on foot, hacking his way through the jungle. Single-minded and exceptionally tough, he captured the imagination of a public hungry for tales of far-off adventure. His exploits were widely reported, especially when he told of his belief in a lost cityenigmatically, he called it Zthat would offer proof an advanced civilization had once thrived despite the regions hostile environment. In 1925, having vowed to find Z, he disappeared into the jungle and was never seen again. Grann, of the New Yorker, was no outdoorsman. But captivated by the story, he joined the ranks of the Fawcett Freaks, determined to discover the explorers fate. (It is estimated that more than 100 people have lost their lives trying to find out how Fawcett lost his.) He interweaves Fawcetts story with rich period detail and an account of his own trip to the receding jungle. The historical passages, peerlessly researched, are the best; the first-person parts could have been a useful way of illustrating the tales irresistible lurebut compared to Fawcetts relentless monomania and astonishing travels, Granns own journey pales. The device pays off in the final scene, however, when, through Granns own eyes, we experience the thrill of discoveryand learn that Percy Fawcett just may have been right all along.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2008, American Library Association.)

  • Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times "Suspenseful. . . . Rollicking. . . . Reads with all the pace and excitement of a movie thriller. . . . The Lost City of Z is at once a biography, a detective story and a wonderfully vivid piece of travel writing that combines Bruce Chatwinesque powers of observation with a Waugh-like sense of the absurd. Mr. Grann treats us to a harrowing reconstruction of Fawcett's forays into the Amazonian jungle, as well as an evocative rendering of the vanished age of exploration."
  • The Los Angeles Times "Breathtaking. . . . Grann brings Fawcett's remarkable story to a beautifully written, perfectly paced fruition. . . . Any writer who can breathe life into letters written by scientists in the early 1900s deserves more than a hat tip."
  • The Boston Globe "Brilliant. . . . Impressively researched and skillfully crafted. . . . Grann makes abundantly clear in this fascinating, epic story of exploration and obsession, [that] the lethal attraction of the Amazon mystery remains strong."
  • USA Today "A smart biographical page-turner."
  • Details "Grann escapes death and tracks down Z, giving the reader the kind of Indiana Jones kicks best experienced vicariously."
  • John Grisham "A riveting, exciting and thoroughly compelling tale of adventure."
  • The Washington Post "Thoroughly researched, vividly told. . . . Grann recounts Fawcett's expeditions with all the pace of a white-knuckle adventure story. . . . A thrill ride from start to finish."
  • Malcolm Gladwell "The story of Z goes to the heart of the central questions of our age. In the battle between man and a hostile environment, who wins? A fascinating and brilliant book."
  • Dallas Morning News "A spellbinding tale that produces fresh surprises around each turn. . . . An amazing story."
  • Entertainment Weekly "A fascinating yarn that touches on science, history, and some truly obsessive personalities."
  • Christian Science Monitor "There is something about Fawcett's spirit and self-assurance that captivates. . . . To read The Lost City of Z is to feel grateful that Grann himself bothered to set out for the Amazon in search of the bones of an explorer whose body was long ago reclaimed by the jungle."
  • New York Observer "A blockbuster tale of adventure."
  • Bloomberg News "Marvelous. . . . [Grann] combines a colorful narrative of Fawcett's early life, military career, jungle treks, theories and even conversations with a biography of an extraordinary man and an overview of the last great and highly competitive age of exploration."
  • The Denver Post "A blood-stirring reading experience."
  • Erik Larson "A deeply satisfying revelation. . . . What could be better--obsession, mystery, deadly insects, shrunken heads, suppurating wounds, hostile tribesmen--all for us to savor in our homes, safely before the fire."
  • Simon Winchester, The Wall Street Journal "What makes Mr. Grann's telling of the story so captivating is that he decides not simply to go off in search of yet more relics of our absent hero--but to go off himself in search of the city that Fawcett was looking for so heroically when he suddenly went AWOL."
  • Cleveland Plain Dealer "Fast-paced adventure. . . . Grann delights us with the lure of obsession under a canopy of trees."
  • Richard B. Woodward, The New York Times "Absorbing and fair-minded. . . . In restoring a life that history has swallowed from general view, and vindicating a crackpot theory, Mr. Grann has also exposed the toll that explorers often took on those who loved or depended on them."
  • The Daily Telegraph (London) "An engrossing book, whose protagonist could outmarch Lara Croft and out-think Indiana Jones. . . . It's almost enough to make you reach for a backpack."
  • The Toronto Star "A riveting adventure-mystery in the tradition of Conan Doyle's The Lost World, said to be inspired by Fawcett."
  • Richmond Times-Dispatch "Perfect for armchair travelers and readers with fond childhood memories of books recounting tales of adventure in the dark wild. . . . What [Grann] found should help change how we think about the Amazon. . . . Read it, shiver with delight and thank your lucky stars you're never going to get as close to a candirú as Fawcett and Grann did. (Look it up on Wikipedia, if you dare.)"

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