I started this book last summer and I couldn't stick with it, so I abandoned it halfway through. Since then, I saw the film adaptation so I got the gist of how Fawcett's journey ended. I never intended to finish the book, but recently something inspired me to pick it up again. Maybe I was just desperate for another nonfiction audiobook. This time I finished it in a week. While I was not attached to the chapters in which Grann recounted his own trip to the Amazon, I grew infinitely more interested in Fawcett's tale as it neared his disappearance. I love unsolved mysteries. The lack of a resolution didn't ruin the story for me. If anything, I'm even more hooked on the case.
This is an adventure book, a book about the Amazon, the Royal Geographic Society, and British explorer Percy Fawcett (and his family). It is the story of what happens when one searches for something based on hearsay. Reality takes over, and the real adventure is much less romantic than one would imagine. (Especially if they've watched movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark.) There are the affects of a jungle fraught with biting insects, maggots, sweat bees, piranhas and all sorts of other creatures which can make your life miserable. There are the unknown people who live there. Are they friendly or hostile?
What is it that leads others to continue this search, when the adventurers either return empty-handed or do not return at all?
Once again, I'm reminded that I am a city gal through and through, and that I prefer armchair travel. This book reminded me of Candice Millard's "The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey," and Roosevelt's trip was mentioned in this book. It was interesting to read about the explorers competing for Royal Geographic Society dollars and prestige (and poor James Murray, who was great at polar exploring, but completely terrible in the Amazon), and the ways that Fawcett reasoned about Z and sought to conceal his route so that his better-equipped rival wouldn't find it first. However, the part I enjoyed most was the modern archeological explanation of Z. The narrator's voice was a bit monotonous at times, but he was pretty good overall.
"In 1925, famed British explorer Percy Fawcett voyaged up the Amazon in search of a city he called "Z" and others call El Dorado. Although Fawcett was a seasoned adventurer, he and his two companions (including his 21-year-old son, Jack) were never seen again. Decades later, journalist David Grann learned about the headline-making disappearance and joined the ranks of those who've attempted to learn what happened to Fawcett - several of whom have lost their lives in the process. An account of Grann's modern-day foray into the jungle is interwoven with details about Fawcett's adventures, which are based on the explorer's diaries, letters, and other accounts. Featuring blow-darts, giant snakes, and hostile locals, this gripping narrative reads "with all the pace and excitement of a movie thriller" (The New York Times)." Next Reads Armchair Travel October 2012 Newsletter http://www.nextreads.com/Display2.aspx?SID=5acc8fc1-4e91-4ebe-906d-f8fc5e82a8e0&N=556414
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