Monday, August 31, 2009

Reading Across Rhode Island and The Lost City of Z

The Lost City of Z by David Grann

It is hard to imagine a time when explorers – people who went on long, dangerous journeys to as yet undiscovered places, were really famous, looked on as celebrities and whose exploits were reported in all the news media of the day.

“No Olympic games contender was ever trained down to a finer edge than these three reserved, matter-of-fact Englishmen, whose pathway to a forgotten world is beset by arrows, pestilence and wild beasts.”
[Los Angeles Times, 1925]

That’s the kind of notoriety that Percy Harrison Fawcett, explorer extraordinary, and other adventurers of the early 1900’s received. These were the days of T. E. Lawrence, Teddy Roosevelt, Shackleton, etc. Exploration was also of vital concern because there were really still places to explore - places that no one had ever gone before – where no one had mapped accurately.

The main story is of Fawcett, his mania for exploring the Amazon and his last expedition in search of the lost city of Z, aka El Dorado. Collected around the tale of Fawcett’s 1924 doomed expedition is the story of David Grann, a writer for the New Yorker magazine - a city-dweller who had never even gone camping before - and his attempt to follow in Fawcett’s footsteps, find the bones (literally) of the explorer – and maybe even the lost city itself.

This is not a tale for the faint-hearted. The living creatures, both big and small, that populate the Amazon jungle (or at least did in the 1920s) are directly out of your worst science fiction nightmare. That anyone would freely choose to enter into this arena of crawling beasts, starvation, disease and dangerous populations is beyond me. But it is still fascinating to read about what these men (and there were many Amazon expeditions, several to find Fawcett) attempted.

I will not reveal whether Grann actually found Fawcett or the lost city. Pick the book up and become an explorer yourself! Meg



blogger templates | Make Money Online