The Lost City of Z

The Lost City of Z:

A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon



277 p.


This is an amazing book, very well researched and crafted. How more can you research on your hero, I consider Fawcett as a hero, than go where he went, at the risk of your own life and sanity? Grann had of course modern means and safety nets that Fawcett did not have, but still, not anyone is ready to leave for the Amazon region.

The book combines geography, history (we are talking here 1,000 to 2,000 years ago), archaeology, mystery, adventure tales, or tales of madness. The author goes back and forth between Fawcett’s fate, as well as all those who tried to find him afterward, and his own trip. He is superb at describing the crazy survival conditions of the Amazon river and area.

He also debunks what scientists had been thinking at one point, and some may still today, about the native populations of these places.

It is quite fascinating to see where an idea can lead you once it becomes an obsession.

This masterpiece is an irresistible page turner. I learned a lot about these ancient civilizations, and I want to read more about them now. On p.273, Grann mentions his meeting with Heckenberger, an archeologist who spent so much time in that region that the local chief has even had a hut built near his own in the Indian village.  In 2004, Heckenberger  published the fruit of his research in a book that sounds very fascinating: The Ecology of Power: Culture, Place and Personhood in the Southern Amazon, AD 1000-2000. Needless to say, this is now on my TBR.

I pulled the map from my back pocket. It was wet and crumpled, the lines I had raced to highlight my route now faded. I stared at my markings, hoping that they might lead me out of the Amazon, rather than deeper into it

For a moment, I could see this vanished world as if it were right in front of me. Z.

02/01/2021 edit:
This has now become a movie. Did you watch it? Is it good?


A grand mystery reaching back centuries. A sensational disappearance that made headlines around the world. A quest for truth that leads to death, madness or disappearance for those who seek to solve it. The Lost City of Z is a blockbuster adventure narrative about what lies beneath the impenetrable jungle canopy of the Amazon.

After stumbling upon a hidden trove of diaries, acclaimed New Yorker writer David Grann set out to solve “the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth century”: What happened to the British explorer Percy Fawcett and his quest for the Lost City of Z?

In 1925 Fawcett ventured into the Amazon to find an ancient civilization, hoping to make one of the most important discoveries in history. For centuries Europeans believed the world’s largest jungle concealed the glittering kingdom of El Dorado. Thousands had died looking for it, leaving many scientists convinced that the Amazon was truly inimical to humankind. But Fawcett, whose daring expeditions helped inspire Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, had spent years building his scientific case. Captivating the imagination of millions around the globe, Fawcett embarked with his twenty-one-year-old son, determined to prove that this ancient civilization—which he dubbed “Z”—existed. Then he and his expedition vanished.

Fawcett’s fate—and the tantalizing clues he left behind about “Z”—became an obsession for hundreds who followed him into the uncharted wilderness. For decades scientists and adventurers have searched for evidence of Fawcett’s party and the lost City of Z. Countless have perished, been captured by tribes, or gone mad. As David Grann delved ever deeper into the mystery surrounding Fawcett’s quest, and the greater mystery of what lies within the Amazon, he found himself, like the generations who preceded him, being irresistibly drawn into the jungle’s “green hell.” His quest for the truth and his stunning discoveries about Fawcett’s fate and “Z” form the heart of this complex, enthralling narrative. (Publisher summary)


DAVID GRANN is a longtime staff writer at The New Yorker. He has written about everything from New York City’s antiquated water tunnels to the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang, from the hunt for the giant squid to the mysterious death of the world’s greatest Sherlock Holmes expert. His stories have appeared in several Best American writing anthologies, and he has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Republic. A collection of his stories, The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, has just been published this month of January 2011.




9 thoughts on “The Lost City of Z

    • It’s sooo good, I hope you can get to it soon Jen.
      I finally created extra categories on my blog [left menu], so you can see reviews for all my non-fiction books. quite a few, though I seriously started blogging about all my readings only about a year ago


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  4. Now that I think about it, I think I may have heard of this book before. Thank you for introducing me to this one! It sounds like all of his works are incredibly well-researched with a lot of background information and I look forward to reading them.


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