This is the story of Percy Fawcett, a British explorer who went missing in the Amazon in the 1920s. It’s told by journalist David Grann, who follows Fawcett’s path in an effort to find out what happened to him. Unfortunately for Grann, and the book, he’s not nearly as interesting as the man whose steps he’s tracing — but he occupies way more content in the book.
“Explorers are not, perhaps, the most promising people with whom to build a society. Indeed, some might say that explorers become explorers precisely because they have a streak of unsociability and a need to remove themselves at regular intervals as far as possible from their fellow men.”
In 1925, Percy Fawcett (isn’t that the most amazingly British name) took a small expedition into the Amazon jungle in search of the Lost City of Z. Along the lines of El Dorado or Cibola, rumors of the Lost of City of Z had spread across Europe for centuries. Everyone claimed it existed, but no one ever found it — or returned alive (dun dun dunnn). Fawcett was just another in a long line of explorers to lose his life trying to find it, and many more followed after.
Almost 100 years later, journalist David Grann found Fawcett’s diaries, and decides to retrace his journey. To be clear: this is CRAZY. The Amazon remains a wildly unsafe place to visit. It’s like Australia — everything there wants to kill you. From the snakes to the diseases to evil fish, it’s incredibly dangerous. And the bugs — oh my GOD y’all the bugs. Mosquitoes spread malaria, flies spread leishmaniasis, there’s some kind of maggot that wants nothing more than to eat your toes. The audio book had my skin crawling.
So Fawcett’s story is interesting, and the scenery is…murderous. But I only rated this 3 stars because I just did NOT like Grann. I get that he was telling his own story along with Fawcett’s, but I kind of wish he hadn’t. He rubbed me the wrong way, and I felt for his family, left behind in New York while he risked his life in the jungle. I guess I could never be the wife of a journalist.