Book Review: The Lost City of Z, A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

by DerdriuMarriner

The Lost City of Z by David Grann follows physical evidence and paper trails to Latin America's Amazon jungle in search of the twentieth-century's vanished explorer Percy Fawcett.

Percy believed Difficulties Be Damned (Nec Aspira Terrent)

The Lost City of Z acts in The New Yorker staff-writing hands of David Grann as riveting a tale of deadly obsession in the Amazon jungle as ever there was from early twentieth-century Brazil.

It brings together surviving paper trails and physical evidence concerning the mysterious disappearance of Lieutenant Colonel Percival Harrison Fawcett (August 18, 1867 – May 29, 1925?), one of the twentieth century’s most undaunted explorers, along with:
• his older son Jack Fawcett (May 19, 1903 – May 29, 1925?); and
• his son’s best friend Raleigh Rimmel (1902? – May 29, 1925?).

It concerns the trio’s last agenda and suspected destination northeast of Cuiabá, the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso’s capital and the South American continent’s exact center.

*****

Website:
http://davidgrann.com/lost-city-of-z/index.php/
http://anthro.ufl.edu/heckenberger/

*****

Route of Percy Fawcett's last South American expedition: the intrepid explorer sent his last letter to his wife from Dead Horse Camp ~

Location of Dead Horse Camp is confused by discrepancy in coordinates given for camp on another occasion.
map created with Generic Mapping Too
map created with Generic Mapping Too

Percy crossed Manso and Novo Rivers beyond Cuiabá

 

Z designates fifteenth-century America’s El Dorado (The Golden Man) in correspondence, records, and speeches by Torquay-born Percy Fawcett of Devon, England. Percy’s explorations of 1906 – 1907, 1908, 1910, 1911, 1913, 1914, 1924, and 1925 encourage Z-searching. Z-related information indeed flows with:

  • “Amazon” of June 23, 2011 through the 3-episode Unnatural Histories;
  • “Lost in the Amazon” of April 20, 2011 through the 38-episode Secrets of the Dead;
  • “The Lost City of El Dorado” of January 11, 2013 through the 26-episode Raiders of the Lost Past;
  • The Lost City of  Z of 2016 with Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller, Robert Pattinson, and producer Brad Pitt; and
  • “The Secret of El Dorado” of December 19, 2002 through the 1,100+-episode Horizon series. 

 

One of sources inspiring Percy Fawcett's last expedition: last page of 10 page manuscript known as manuscrito 512, or documento 512, concerning a lost city ~

Some have equated symbols, copied from stone slabs and temple portico in lost city, with some celestial bodies: Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus, Sun, Moon, Earth
Fundação Biblioteca Nacional, Rio de Janeiro, southeastern Brazil
Fundação Biblioteca Nacional, Rio de Janeiro, southeastern Brazil

Percy delved beyond Galvão, Bakairí, Dead Horse Camp

 

Percy’s expeditions still get attention because of black-colored, bio-renewable, causeway-crossed, charcoal-filled, crop-supporting, mound-connecting, nutrient-rich, pottery-strewn terra preta soils along the Amazonas, Negro, and Tapajós Rivers where Francisco de Orellana’s (1490? – November 1546) traversals from Guayaquil, Ecuador to Marajó, Brazil locate civilizations. They have additional documentary inspiration in Rio de Janeiro National Library’s Manuscript 512 authored in 1753 by João da Silva Guimarães and incorporated into Sir Richard Francis Burton’s  (March 19, 1821 – October 20, 1890) Explorations of The Highlands of Brazil of 1869. Their validity is confirmed with University of Florida-Gainesville Anthropologist Michael Heckenberger’s unearthing 1,500+-year-old Kuhikugu’s 7,700 square miles (19,942.91 square kilometers) of:

  • canals;
  • dams, ditches;
  • manioc fields;
  • palisades, plazas, ponds;
  • roads; and
  • 20+ towns, villages. 

 

Indigenous Xingu River tribe of Kuikuro may be descendants of inhabitants of Kuhikugu, vast complex discovered by anthropologist Michael Heckenberger in area of Percy Fawcett's expedition:

Ipatse, one of villages in which Kuikuro live in southern part of Xingu National Park
Parque Nacional Xingu (Xingu National Park), northern Mato Grosso state, central west Brazil
Parque Nacional Xingu (Xingu National Park), northern Mato Grosso state, central west Brazil

Percy expired amid Kalapalo, Kamayurá, Kayapó, Suyá, Xavante

 

So The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon provides adventure-, history-, mystery-, and travel-lovers with culturally enriching, educationally entertaining, and geo-historically enthralling journeys into an explorer’s itinerary and mindset, thanks to:

  • David Cain, map designer;
  • Maria Carella, book designer;
  • Doubleday and Vintage Books, divisions of Random House, Inc., publishers;
  • John Fontana, cover designer;
  • David Grann, author;
  • Rolette Anne de Montet-Guerin (born August 17, 1939), Joan Fawcett’s (born November 10, 1910) daughter from marrying Jean de Montet (died 1987) August 4, 1932 and Percival Fawcett’s (August 18, 1867 – May 29, 1925?) granddaughter from marrying Nina Agnes Paterson Prichard’s (1870? – September 8, 1954) January 31, 1901; and
  • Beth Wald, Aurora Photos cover photographer. 

 

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann ~ available via Amazon

In 1925, the legendary British explorer Percy Fawcett ventured into the Amazon jungle, in search of a fabled civilization. He never returned.
Amazon explorers

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.

 

David Grann, staff writer at The New Yorker since 2003 and author of 2009 bestseller The Lost City of Z

2010 Texas Book Festival, Austin, central Texas
2010 Texas Book Festival, Austin, central Texas

Sources Consulted

 

Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010.  

“Cote: P Montet. Intitulé: Montet (Albert de). Inventaire.” DAVEL Description des Archives cantonales vaudoises sous forme électronique. September 30, 2009. 

  • Available at: http://www.davel.vd.ch/qfpdavel/0/D295.pdf                 

Grann, David. 2010. The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon. New York, NY: Vintage Departures, Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, Inc. 

 

Percy Fawcett in Pelechuco, La Paz department, northwestern Bolivia, in 1911

1911, year of Percy Fawcett's fourth major South American expedition
1911, year of Percy Fawcett's fourth major South American expedition
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett (1867-1925) in Brazil, 1925 ~ photographic print ~ available via AllPosters

Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett (1867-1925) in Brazil, 1925

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 04/09/2015, DerdriuMarriner
 
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