Monday, August 16, 2010

The Lost City of Z by David Grann

When I first picked up this book, I thought it was fiction. Actually, it is about the true story of 1920's explorer Percy Fawcett and the author's attempt to follow his trail into the Amazon jungle. Fawcett was an accomplished explorer already when he took his final trip into the Amazon with his son and his son's friend. They went looking for the legendary "City of Z" and were never seen again.

Also, the Amazon might be the scariest place on earth. It's INSANE how many ways you can die out there - and painfully too. We're talking maggots that infest living flesh, cyanide-squirting worms, and let's not forgot those fun little fish that like to swim into any orifice it can find - like a urethra - usually requiring castration to get it out.

I liked:

-I'd never heard of Percy Fawcett before, so I found his story pretty interesting.

-The author decided to make his own trip to the Amazon to try and follow Fawcett's trail. I liked reading his experiences since he was by no means an explorer. He was an average person - a writer! He had no experience living in the outdoors, but I think the book was made better by his attempt to experience just a tiny bit of what Fawcett and his team did.

I didn't like:

-It's pretty slow at first. The main exploration in question doesn't even occur until more than halfway through the book. Then when it finally picks up momentum with Fawcett's doomed journey and the author's own trek into the Amazon, the book abruptly ends 3/4 of the way through. The last fourth of the book is acknowledgments and book notes. I guess they didn't really have much more to go with since no one really knows what happened to Fawcett.

-I wish they focused more on the exploration to find "Z" instead of all the excessive background information on every explorer for the past 200 years and all the history of maps and cartography. That stuff was pretty boring.

-They didn't give much information on the lost city itself, especially considering it's the title of the book. I would have liked to learn more about it's history.

2.5/5 stars. I only liked about 1/4 of it...I could have done with more adventure and less history of maps.

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