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The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon (Vintage Departures)

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The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon (Vintage Departures) Cover

 

 

Reading Group Guide

1. Books about explorers, adventurers, and extreme risk-takers like Jon Krakauer’s Eiger Dreams and Into the Wild, Caroline Alexander’s The Endurance, Joe Simpson’s Touching the Void, Nathaniel Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea, Sebastian Junger’s A Perfect Storm, and many others, have become extremely popular in recent years. What are the appeals of such books? What qualities does The Lost City of Z share with books of this kind? In what ways does it differ from them?

2. After time away from the jungle, Fawcett wrote: “Inexplicably—amazingly—I knew I loved that hell. Its fiendish grasp had captured me, and I wanted to see it again” [p. 116]. What drove Fawcett to plunge himself again and again into the dangers of the Amazon? What is the main force that drives him—obsession with finding the lost city, desire to prove himself against his competitors, a need to escape the confines of civilization, a spiritual quest?

3. In what ways is Fawcett a symbolic figure? What values does he embody? In what ways does he represent many of both the best and worst qualities of the British Empire?

4. Grann notes that some anthropologists and historians consider Fawcett’s view of the Indians enlightened for his era while others saw him as unable to transcend the prevailing racism of his own culture. How does he regard the Indians he encounters? How does he treat them?

5. How do Fawcett’s expeditions affect his wife Nina? How does she see her role in relation to him? In what ways does she succumb to his obsessions?

6. In what ways does The Lost City of Z challenge conventional views of the Amazon? What does it suggest about the current state of archeological research in the region?

7. What are some of the most fascinating and/or dreadful features of the Amazon jungle revealed in The Lost City of Z? How has the jungle been changed since Europeans first made contact with it?

8. What does The Lost City of Z reveal about the power of obsession? In what ways does Fawcett’s obsession draw others into its deadly gravitational pull?  

9. By what means does Grann maintain such a high level of suspense throughout the book? What does the interweaving of his own story—the story of his search for the truth about what happened to Fawcett and the story of his writing of the book itself—add to the total effect of The Lost City of Z?

10. After witnessing the mass carnage of World War I, Fawcett exclaims: “Civilization! Ye gods! To see what one has seen the word is an absurdity. It has been an insane explosion of the lowest human emotions” [p. 189]. In what ways does The Lost City of Z call into question conventional notions of civilization? What does it suggest about the supposed differences between advanced and primitive cultures?

11. What are Percy Harrison’s Fawcett’s most admirable qualities? What aspects of his character prove most troubling? Was James Murray right in accusing Fawcett of all but murdering him? [p. 139]. 

12. Near the end of the book, Grann writes about how biographers are often driven mad by the inability to fully comprehend their subjects. Of his own quest he says: “The finished story of Fawcett seemed to reside eternally beyond the horizon: a hidden metropolis of words and paragraphs, my own Z” [p. 303]. How well does Grann succeed in discovering and revealing the truth of Percy Fawcett?

13. Does Grann’s meeting with the anthropologist Michael Heckenberger in Kurikulo village confirm Fawcett’s belief in a lost ancient civilization? Is Fawcett’s search vindicated at last?

(For a complete list of available reading group guides, and to sign up for the Reading Group Center enewsletter, visit www.readinggroupcenter.com)

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 9 comments:

launie, January 23, 2012 (view all comments by launie)
Well written account of almost superhuman determination and endurance, I loved it.
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Elwood, January 19, 2012 (view all comments by Elwood)
This wonderfully written book got me started on an obsession with Victorian era explorers. Great adventure book! Highly recommended!
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cardemonroscoe, January 28, 2011 (view all comments by cardemonroscoe)
This book was just plain awesome. It made me want to go and trek through the amazon.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781400078455
Author:
Grann, David
Publisher:
Vintage Books USA
Author:
Various
Subject:
Expeditions & Discoveries
Subject:
Latin America - South America
Subject:
South America - General
Subject:
General History
Subject:
World History-General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage Departures
Publication Date:
20100131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
16 PP. BandW; 2 MAPS
Pages:
448
Dimensions:
28.1 x 13 x 5 in 15.5 lb

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Related Subjects


Featured Titles » General
History and Social Science » Exploration » General
History and Social Science » Exploration » New World
History and Social Science » World History » General
History and Social Science » World History » South America
Travel » Travel Writing » General
Travel » Travel Writing » Latin America

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon (Vintage Departures) Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.95 In Stock
Product details 448 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9781400078455 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Grann's riveting book, The Lost City of Z, delves into the intrepid life and mysterious disappearance of legendary British explorer Percy Fawcett. Armchair travelers will be whisked away to the Amazon on a wild ride with a surprising finish.

"Staff Pick" by ,

A true-life, amazing Amazon adventure-mystery. David Grann, mild-mannered reporter, treks into the Amazon to retrace the path of the legendary (and seemingly super-human) British explorer Percy Fawcett. Skillfully researched and written, The Lost City of Z is an fascinating read.

"Review" by , "A wonderfully researched true story about an intrepid adventurer, a colorful cast, and an obsession that grips both him and the author."
"Review" by , "Few things are better than experiencing a horrendous adventure from the comfort of your own armchair. Hordes of mosquitoes, poison-arrow attacks, bizarre and fatal diseases, spies in starched collars, hidden outposts of Atlantis — what's not to like? The Lost City of Z is like a wonderful nineteenth-century tale of exotic danger — except that David Grann's book is also a sensitively written biographical detective story, a vest-pocket history of exploration, and a guide to the new archaeological research that is exploding our preconceptions of the Amazon and its peoples."
"Review" by , "With this riveting work, David Grann emerges on our national landscape as a major new talent. His superb writing style, his skills as a reporter, his masterful use of historical and scientific documents, and his stunning storytelling ability are on full display here, producing an endlessly absorbing tale about a magical subject that captivates from start to finish. This is a terrific book."
"Review" by , "Suspenseful....Rollicking....Reads with all the pace and excitement of a movie thriller."
"Synopsis" by , A New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, and Denver Post Bestseller

 

In 1925, the legendary British explorer Percy Fawcett ventured into the Amazon jungle, in search of a fabled civilization. He never returned. Over the years countless perished trying to find evidence of his party and the place he called “The Lost City of Z.” In this masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, journalist David Grann interweaves the spellbinding stories of Fawcett’s quest for “Z” and his own journey into the deadly jungle, as he unravels the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth century.

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