The Lost City of Z – David Grann

The Lost City of Z - David Grann
The Lost City of Z – David Grann

This name lodged in my brain from a 99 percent invisible (I think….) podcast advert, for the movie it’s been made into.

But don’t let that, or the cover and blurbs, put you off! The latter not do justice to the book’s research and the twin track quests it recounts – Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett‘s for the ancient civilisation(s) of the Amazon, the author’s for the expedition Fawcett led in 1925, and which never returned.

Fawcett’s previous explorations, surveying borders, rivers and routes through the Amazon in the 1910s and 1920s took place at the same time as more famous expeditions to the Poles and the Mallory-era attempts on Everest. Fawcett’s was a life similarly interrupted and irrevocably impacted by World War I, where he served as an officer on the Western Front.

A couple of interesting nuggets that I learned from the book were that:

  • The Royal Geographical Society was based for almost 25 years at 1 Savile Row
  • El Dorado was the title of the ruler of the fabled and fabulously rich kingdom deep in the jungle, to which the conquistadors gave that name

One minor niggle, but one that kept resurfacing, were the American English references that always jar for the British English ear: ‘the London Times’, the ‘Mayfair district’, ‘jelly’ for jam, ‘X wrote Y’. Still, worth working though!

The Lost City of Z: A Legendary British Explorer’s Deadly Quest to Uncover the Secrets of the Amazon – David Grann