Monday, July 17, 2017

The Lost City of Z

The Lost City of Z by David Grann          Audio Book:  10 hours     Paperback Book: 400 pages  

The Lost City of Z is a city said to be found in the Amazon jungle somewhere.    It is as elusive as the lost city of gold,  the fountain of youth or Eldorado.    British explorer, Colonel Fawcett as he referred to himself and preferred to be called, through a grant from the Royal Genealogical Society went in search of the Lost City of Z a place said to have so much gold that the chief would roll in gold dust and walk around sparkling in the sun.    Personally, I think it would be way too hot in the Amazon to walk around with much of anything on especially gold dust – wouldn’t that clog your pores?  Colonel Fawcett gave his search a valiant effort, he had researched every previous explorers notes that he could find.   Many claimed to have seen it but no one ever returned, just the notes arrived by Indian runner across country then the notes were sent by ship back to the R.G.S.    No one ever returned from these explorations however.    Not even the pack animals.     Turns out over the years many explorers and their entourage had been attacked by hostile tribes, even potentially eaten by tribes who practiced cannibalism.    This did not deter Colonel Fawcett he was determined to find the lost City of Z.    Colonel Fawcett made 3 expeditions into the Amazon in his search taking his son and his son’s best friend on the last trip of which none of them returned.    This was in 1925.    Several explorers tried to solve the mystery of Fawcett’s disappearance and to seek the City of Z themselves.     David Grann took up the mantle himself and did a laborious study of the notes, writings and even private correspondence he was allowed access to between Fawcett and his wife.    Grann discovered that it is quite possible that Fawcett did actually find it as there was secret coded missives between his forays in the jungle and his letters home to his wife.   He spoke of several other adventurers who were on the trail who were trying to usurp him and claim the glory of being the first to find this Atlantean like archaeological gem.   Fawcett became very paranoid and while hinting that he was on the right path now and that the other groups were searching further south than he knew the place to be.   If he found it, which some explorers believe he did, something prevented him from sharing his news with the scientific world.    The tribes in the area certainly weren’t fond of westerners traipsing around their stomping ground, not even the friendlier tribes offered up any inkling on the whereabouts or how to get there nor did they offer any type of help in making the way easier for interlopers as they saw them coming to destroy their way of life.    Many tribes had seen changes come and parts of the forest destroyed.   They stopped playing nice after that.     While Fawcett was able to offer “gifts” to the chiefs of some of the tribes they encountered, enough to allow them to pass through unharmed for the most part, that trick did not always work.     And one day his entire group vanished from the face of the earth.    Back home the spiritualist movement had taken over with the arrival of Madame Helena Petrovna Blavotsky, a Russian occultist whose spiritualist philosophy and her abilities as a psychic medium won over the devotion of first upper class society then spread through the masses over Europe, the U.K. and into America.    Fawcett’s wife desperate for news of his and her son’s whereabouts began consulting mediums to find out what she could from the spirit realm since the human realm wasn’t giving her any answers.    The things the mediums told her is quite interesting, especially the details and naming of names unknown to them.  No definitive word came during Mrs. Fawcett’s lifetime, however, it was said at her death that at last she would know the answers to her husband and son’s fates.    Over the years, even recently word will spread that a decendant of Fawcett’s has been found here or there in some seldom seen and little known tribe.   Some tribes have said that the two boys were killed but Fawcett was taken prisoner and lived out his days with one of the more primitive of tribes, even taking a wife from the tribe and fathering children who grew up and had their own children.   Over the years this has been shown to possibly have some merit when light skinned blue eyed trbal members were seen.   Grann and his guide and group underwent deprivation,  fell captive a time or two only able to barter their way out with promises to pay the chief off significantly (hey, the tribes were primitive but savvy in the ways of things).     Fawcett’s legend grew and grew.    Some groups later formed in homage to Fawcett who believed that he did find the lost city and that it was underground or was within a portal that Fawcett went into and decided he liked it so much he never wanted to come back out of it.  Other groups believed ancient aliens might have saw him as worthy for all his diligence and rewarded him with entry into the gold city for all his suffering and that his son and his son’s friend were there too.   (Think the folks camped around Area 51 in Roswell, New Mexico.)   Between what is known and what is legend Grann strives to find answers and leaves the reader with a conundrum – from all the evidence what do you believe?    Interesting ride through the depths of the Amazon experience told by someone who knows.    Very thorough research.   Stirs the reader to want to solve that puzzle.    It seems the clures are all there.    But like the bones of the tall tribesman that were passed off as the bones of Fawcett for many years – there is a lot of stuff to wade through to get to the genuine.   Good book.   Makes the reader appreciate the work of National Geographic and Royal Geograhic Societies for doing the leg work so we the readers don’t have to.

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