“The Lost City of Z” by David Grann

June’s selection for the Books and Bars club is The Lost City of Z by New Yorker writer David Grann. Grann, like many before, him, became obsessed with the mysterious 1925 disappearance of Amazon explorer Percy W Fawcett:

…his name was known throughout the world. He was one of 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…

Grann’s story reads like fiction. Fawcett becomes obsessed with finding a lost civilization he’s named Z. He’s secretive about his trips, and on his last one disappears, along with his son and son’s friend. Interspersed with Fawcett’s story (and already knowing the broad strokes of the end of it) are the beginning of Grann’s–how he got involved in the story, and how it became so important he “had” to go to the Amazon to see for himself what might have happened. (In the rainy season, no less. I would have thought he’d learned something from all the tragic narratives.)

The details of early 20th century Amazonian expeditions are fascinating and harrowing. “These men must be crazy,” I thought, as did Grann, until he became so involved that he couldn’t, wouldn’t extract himself. An thumping good read of two men’s obsessions, with enough answers at the end to be satisfying enough.

4 Responses to ““The Lost City of Z” by David Grann”

  1. Amy Says:

    I have to admit this one left me feeling “meh.” I usually like these kinds of books, but this one just didn’t do it for me for some reason.

  2. Steph Says:

    Oooh, glad to hear this was a good one! I picked up a copy on a whim a few bookstore trips ago (oh… was I on a book buying ban?) but haven’t gotten to it yet.

  3. girldetective Says:

    Amy, can you elaborate on “some reason”? Was it the insanity of subject and writer? That it was a guy book with no good female characters except the stoic wives?

  4. Amy Says:

    Hard to say, Kristin. Maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. I’ve read plenty of male-dominated adventure tales, especially about travels to the Arctic and such, and usually love them, the more tragic the better. But this one just left me cold. The ending seemed to just fall off the book.