Well, it’s been a pretty insane week, so I couldn’t quite get this book post done. Basically, the reality of my husband finishing his doctorate in May has finally hit and decisions need making, but we’re still playing the waiting game on job hunting, etc. etc. Nothing catastrophic, just time and attention consuming. And trying to stay excited and optimistic!
The Lost City of Z by David Grann caught my attention because I really love non-fiction adventure stories, especially those involving harrowing survival against natural elements. In the early twentieth century, veteran British explorer Percy Fawcett resolved to find proof of the ancient civilization and its fabled city which he dubbed Z. In 1925 Fawcett, his son Jack, and Jack’s friend Raleigh ventured deep into the Amazonian forests in Brazil, and vanished shortly after. His disappearance was considered one of the greatest mysteries of the twentieth century, inspiring countless more expeditions vowing to find the lost party, all failing and many vanishing themselves. Author of The Lost City of Z David Grann also trekked into the Amazon, following newly uncovered clues from Fawcett’s private diaries.
The Lost City of Z reads like a fast-paced adventure novel, but is densely packed with a biography and more historical information on several topics than I would have guessed (map making and exploration of the world in general, native South American peoples, religion, eugenics, etc.). The level of research is astounding, however in a few spots I felt bogged down by the details and the story dragged. The descriptions of life in the Amazon are simply gut wrenching. Between the parasites, poisonous plants and insects, stifling heat and humidity, treacherous untamed wilderness, and constant threat of starvation and disease (not to mention possible abduction and slaughter by natives), it is incredible to me that so many people still had the ambition and desire to go out there. I was moved by some of the native tribes, most of whom were shown to be just as civilized as the Europeans (oftentimes more). It’s a fantastic true story of adventure, danger, mystery, tenacity, and discovery that I’d recommend to anyone with an interest in the Amazon, historical social anthropology, and/or archaeology.
**Note about this TBR Pile Challenge and the Eclectic Challenge—I am finding that I love them because they’re helping me get around to reading these great books I’ve neglected for a long time, but hating the challenges a little too because the truth is in my face now, that I’ve been neglecting these lovely books for so long! Grrr. 😉
Read from January 26 to 30, 2013.