Review of ‘The Lost City of Z’ by David Grann

A gripping real-life adventure story, The Lost City of Z is about the British explorer Percy Harrison Fawcett, who vanished, like many adventurers before him, deep in the Amazon jungle while on the quest to find a fabulous ancient city. Other people then went in search of him and vanished too.

I don’t remember hearing about Percy Fawcett before, but he’s very famous. His disappearance is one of those fascinating unsolved mysteries which excites the public interest. His last quest, after many successful ones charting the wilderness of South America, was in 1925. He travelled with his son and a friend, braving the many hazards of the Amazon in the belief that a hidden city, El Dorado or (as Fawcett termed it) Z, was waiting to be rediscovered. Pretty much everything in the Amazon is out to get you, but Fawcett was tougher than most explorers. The story of Fawcett is alternated with journalist David Grann’s own quest. This results in a mix of history and travel writing.

The indigenous tribes of the Amazon jungle feature prominently in the book (they are called Indians throughout – I’m not sure whether this is politically correct any more). It was very sad to read about the way they have been abused by colonisers and enslaved by corporations. No wonder that many of the tribes were hostile by the time Fawcett needed their friendship in order to travel through their territories. The fate of Fawcett’s expedition is a mystery, due to the lack of evidence, but the most likely scenario is an attack by one of the more violent tribes. Fawcett’s wife and tireless supporter, Nina, believed for the rest of her life that her husband and her eldest son were still out there in the jungle and would one day return.

Recommended if you want some adventure in your reading, but be aware that there are descriptions of really horrible diseases and parasites…

First published in 2009. Adapted into a film, which I will feature in a ‘film of the book’ post.

9 thoughts on “Review of ‘The Lost City of Z’ by David Grann”

  1. I loved this book, although I think Grann’s ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ is, if anything, even better. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of the film as I’ve heard it wasn’t the best of adaptations!

    1. I’m glad you loved this book! I’m yet to read anything else by David Grann though. You’re right the film wasn’t the best adaptation, it’s not a bad film but is turned into a Fawcett biopic focusing on the effect his career and personality had on his family.

  2. I haven’t read the book or seen the film so I would be interested to see how they compare. I almost watched the film and then, for some reason, decided against it. I guess I just don’t like unsolved mysteries. I remember reading all about Fawcett in a boys-own comic when I was a kid. There was a picture of him fighting his way through the jungle with a machete never to be seen again…I am quite certain the city of gold is still out there somewhere in the jungle if you wish to organise another expedition…LOL!!

    1. I would recommend the book, but not especially the film. Many years later, a ruined city was actually discovered where Fawcett thought it would be, although it may not have been gold. Expeditions to the Amazon aren’t so hazardous these days but I still wouldn’t want to 😀

  3. Eeeeeek!! Prasitess!! BUTTTT I AM STILL GONNA ADD THIS ONE TO MY TBR BECAUSEE ….well…I loveedddd your review, as always, and it’s based on real life too?! WHOAA!’ Definitely intrigued enough to give this one a try!! 😍😍

    1. Yes there are some gross moments especially if you feel icky about parasites, piranhas etc, but it was really interesting and a subject I didn’t know about before. Thanks for reading 😀

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