Tuesday, August 24, 2010

guest blogger: Steve H

Lost City of Z, by David Grann - Men’s Book Club
We scored big again with this nonfiction read that took us on the trail of the search for the fabled city of El Dorado, or the City of Z. Author David Grann, while researching British adventurer Percy Fawcett’s failed 1925 Amazon jungle expedition, gets the exploration bug too and sets out to recreate the British gentleman’s journey. Percy, his son, and son’s best friend Raleigh had entered the Amazon and after a few letters back home and some sightings, they simply vanished. In this excellent story, Grann intertwines Percy’s story and his own, jumping with ease between the past and present. I especially liked this contrast as it showed just how much we take for granted now. Percy and his men worked during a time that encompassed extreme hardships, navigating a really unknown world, using what we would today certainly call primitive methods, such as piecemeal maps and machetes to hack through the jungle. In contrast to that, today we have GPS systems and an assortment of vehicles and tools to blaze through nature. Grann paints a vivid picture of the turmoil that the explorers of old went through. The descriptions of various bugs and parasites can be pretty disgusting, complete with details of the little monsters burrowing into unfortunate explorers skin and laying eggs. If you have ever seen animal Planet’s show “Monsters Inside Me,” you can fully appreciate the pain these men went through. Grann fills the reader in on Percy’s background and his drunk father that spend the family’s wealth, Percy’s stints in the British military, and how he falls in love with the adventures of exploration and goes to explorer’s school at the Royal Geographical Society. He actually begins his long exploration career with an assignment as a spy for the British government in 1901 Morocco. From there the story winds us through other fascinating journeys, his sympathetic dealings with the natives in the Amazon, his race against rivals to find the City of Z, and ultimately to his death on the final and failed Amazon trip. The story is packed with adventure and mystery, with Grann keeping up the suspense until the very end. You be the judge if this end meets your expectations.

From Amanda D: Rumor is there's a movie coming out in 2012 based on the book--with Brad Pitt. Read a copy today and know all about it before anyone else!

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