Friday, April 17, 2009

The Lost City of Z by David Grann

I am on quite the non-fiction kick these days - although overall I probably read more fiction than non, my only requirement is that a book hold my interest. I've read several non-fiction books that read more like fiction thanks to the talented authors that penned them. This is one of those books.

Percy Fawcett was a man's man and larger than life - from an aristocratic British family, he was a natural-born adventurer who quickly learned and adapted his survival skills in the wilderness. Well known for his vast explorations of South America's unmapped areas, he undertook his biggest challenge in 1925, when he and his party went in search of the fabled golden city of El Dorado, believed to be hidden in the jungles of Brazil. Accompanying him were his 21 year-old son, Jack, and Jack's best friend, Raleigh. Little did they know, this would be Fawcett's last adventure.

The mystery surrounding the fate of the unfortunate party sparked several others to enter into the jungle - to search for Fawcett, to rediscover the city of El Dorado, or to at least uncover what became of the expedition. Many of these men were never seen again - yet, the interest continued. Author David Grann, a self-described city fellow who liked, "newspapers, take-out food, sports highlights (recorded on TiVo) and the air conditioning on high," caught the bug himself, and embarked on his own adventure into the jungle, searching for the fate of Percy Fawcett and his party.

This book is an addictive read - I could not put it down! The story of Fawcett and the other explorers was a fascinating look at a history I previously knew nothing about. Grann's account of his own foray into the jungle was also interesting, both for noting the changes that had taken place in the 80 years since Fawcett's trip, and for the aspects that hadn't changed. This would be a great book for someone who would like to give non-fiction a try - it's suspenseful, adventurous and most of all, a great story.

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