The Lost City Of Z: A Tale Of Deadly Obsession In The Amazon

Kobo eBook available

read instantly on your Kobo or tablet.

buy the ebook now

The Lost City Of Z: A Tale Of Deadly Obsession In The Amazon

by David Grann

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group | January 26, 2010 | Trade Paperback

The Lost City Of Z: A Tale Of Deadly Obsession In The Amazon is rated 4.3846 out of 5 by 13.
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.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 448 pages, 7.98 × 5.17 × 0.91 in

Published: January 26, 2010

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1400078458

ISBN - 13: 9781400078455

Found in: History

save 27%

  • In stock online

$15.16  ea

Online Price

$19.95 List Price

eGift this item

Give this item in the form of an eGift Card.

+ what is this?

This item is eligible for FREE SHIPPING on orders over $25.
See details

Easy, FREE returns. See details

Item can only be shipped in Canada

Downloads instantly to your kobo or other ereading device. See details

All available formats:

Check store inventory (prices may vary)


Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Lost City of Z by David Grann Reading a non-fiction is a first for me, or at least the first time in a long time, and I admit that I thought it was fascinating. This book is a true story that is filled with real adventure, mystery, and suspense. This and the fact that the author get’s caught up in the obsession over Z just adds to the realism. After a couple pages I was excited to follow Fawcett throughout several of his journey’s all the way through till the end, but this is not the case. Because it’s a non-fiction the author has to piece together the story from tidbits like Fawcett’s journal, letters written by people close to him, and accounts from other important people in the story. This makes the it less focused on adventure and more informative instead. If you’re a history buff I recommend this novel. I think that after reading this I’ll have to browse the same section in Chapters more often. Despite it seeming like there were no more twists that could happen, the very ending proved that wrong. The Lost City of Z is a beautiful story of english explorers, amazon indians, and the quest for an ancient city. I adored this novel, its 4 OUT OF 5.
Date published: 2013-08-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Probably the most fascinating history lesson you'll ever sit through While The Lost City of Z wasn't quite the rollicking adventure I anticipated, it was a fascinating read - and one that all but managed to put an end to my dreams of being the next Indiana Jones. Okay, maybe that dream will never really die, but David Gann certainly has given me pause for thought with his Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon. On the surface, what we seem to have here are two narratives, embedded and entwined within one another. The primary narrative is that of Percy Fawcett's awe-inspiring career, one that culminated in one final (and deadly) search for lost city of Z, deep within the Amazon. The second is that of the author's own quest to retrace Fawcett's trail, to discover his fate, and to discover the existence of Z. Beneath the surface, however, what we really have is a treatise on anthropology, biology, botany, geography, and history. Sometimes truth truly is stronger than fiction, and Gann paints a picture that is as terrifying as it is fascinating. Looking back from the 21st century, it's hard to image a time when so much of the world was unknown and unmapped. It's almost impossible to picture a time - especially one so recent - without Google Earth, GPS navigation, satellite phones, airplanes, and all of the other technological advances that have made our world so much smaller. Gann's descent into the Amazon is daunting enough on its own, but to imagine doing that on foot, with only the clothes on your back, being out of touch for months or even years at a time, is almost overwhelming. Gann presents an interesting exploration of human history, the possibility of large-scale settlements in the Amazon, and the evolution of scientific attitudes towards that possibility. He shows us just how quickly people and places can be swallowed by the jungle, and just how different the reality of ancient civilizations may be from the stone temples and pyramids we're used to. Gann simultaneously destroys the myth of the noble savage, while creating a new reality of a people who may have evolved differently, but who are just as sophisticated, albeit in their own way. Ultimately, it's left to the reader's judgement (and imagination) as to whether he ever discovers Fawcett's Z, but that's part of the tale's allure. What struck me most about the book, however, is that no matter how many old-time adventure serials you see, or pulp adventure novels you read, you simply cannot imagine the horrors of the Amazon. Gann recounts all the usual suspects - the piranha, the alligators, the bats, and the snakes - but he also introduces us to bizarre and terrifying creatures the likes of which you don't even want to imagine. The bugs alone are overwhelming, especially the ones that burrow deep within your flesh to hatch years later, but nothing compares to the spiny fish that swims inside human orifices below the belt, requiring men to be castrated in the jungle to save their lives. Overall, it's a slow read, one that meanders through time, space, and subject. It requires a bit of persistence to stick with it, especially during the long stretches between the story of Gann's own journey, but the discoveries that await are worth waiting for. Fortunately Gann shies away from making any grand declarations as to Fawcett's fate, presenting us instead with evidence, testimonies, and his own conclusions. Besides that, it's probably the most fascinating history lesson you'll ever sit through.
Date published: 2012-12-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Camping trip anyone? Grann once again brings us an unusual tale of a famed explorer, Percy Fawcett, who lost his life, along with his son and another young man, trying to find a hidden city within the Amazon delta. Fawcett had braved the rainforest numerous times to explore unknown areas and he always emerged unscathed (although you might not say that about his companions who often did not survive). With his knowledge, luck and perserverance, he elected to try once more to find the mythical city that was reputed to predate European conquistadores. Grann carefully lays out the history of Amazonian exploration, both by Fawcett and others, and includes many examples of the terrifying wildlife and hostile natives that might be encountered. The book is very interesting and you will have no problem getting through the material, even if non-fiction isn't normally your preference. Grann also did some private exploring of his own, examining the route taken by Fawcett decades ago. You will find out the likely fate of Fawcett but I won't spoil it for you. Read this book and find out...
Date published: 2012-10-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Do not pass this up! If you're looking for an amazing non-fiction historic/adventure story - then read this book: "The Lost City of Z" by David Grann. The author did a great job with his research on the life of Percy Harrison Fawcett and his last journey into the Amazon with his son, Jack, and another person. They disappeared in 1925- it captivated the whole world and hundreds of adventure seekers have tried to re-create the fateful journey, only to succumb to their own deaths. The author, renewed with evidence of Fawcett's TRUE destination, (after reading his personal log books that present-day family members have stowed away) has found out some interesting things while speaking with remote tribes in the Amazon's Mato Grosso region.
Date published: 2011-02-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unbelievably Awesome Book! From start to finish the tale of an explorer's obsession with finding an ancient civilizations in the heart of the green hell of the Amazon. Why this true tale has not been made into a movie is beyond me as Fawcett was a real-life Indiana Jones. Not a shocker that the Lost City of Z may actually exist underneath the Amazonian undergrowth long lost to our eyes but still there, waiting to be rediscovered.
Date published: 2011-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 20/10 rating. I am probably one of the fussiest readers you may come across I have abandoned many a book due to lack of interest through the first few chapters. This was not even close to being an issue for me with this book. I have personal interest's in ancient civilizations, Native tribes and human history. This was a great find for me! This book has everything, Action, Adventure, Romance, Betrayal, Suspense, Poisonous Reptiles and Insects. Just phenomenal.. I found it extremely difficult to put it down without at least reading a few chapters at a time. My only regret is that I finished it so quickly and its over for me. I will definitely be picking up the author's next book ' The Devil and Sherlock Holmes'. Cheers, and good reading to you! -Josh.
Date published: 2010-05-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from so good! If your just deciding whether to jump into this one or not, just do it, I really enjoyed it.
Date published: 2010-04-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Page turner supreme Magnetic story of Percy Fawcett's treks through 1920's Amazon jungle with little or no help, juxtaposed with the author's own obsession with learning more about Fawcett's life & mysterious fate.
Date published: 2009-12-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fantastic True-Life Adventure Story I picked up The Lost City of Z just before heading out to Peru where I would be spending a week at the Tambopata Research Center in the Amazon. What better reading material to bring to get my imagination flowing while sitting in the same atmosphere (not quite) as Col. Percy Harrison Fawcett. The book relates the story of famed explorer Col. Percy Harrison Fawcett and his numerous trips into the jungle to find the city of gold, El Dorado. The book does an amazing job of explaining what a difficult task it was at the time to go into the Amazon. No matter how many supplies you brought with you or how many men. More often than not, most would not come back. The story revolves around Fawcett's life both before and during his explorations, as well as the author's attempt to find out what happened to Fawcett and quite possibly the Lost City of Z. Does he find the city? Does he find out what happened to Fawcett? You'll have to read the book to find out. I quite enjoyed the author's perspective on his own trip into the Amazon and wished there was more but as the book stands now it is quite an excellent read. I found putting the book down in the second half difficult. I'd recommend the Lost City of Z to anyone who loves a good adventure and who loves travelling to the unknown.
Date published: 2009-09-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Informative but disappointing The information given and the storytelling are great- however, I was disappointed with the end of the book. I felt like I had more questions than answers at the end of the book- very unsatisfying. Still, a very entertaining read. Could be a bit dry for those who are not avid history/non-fiction readers.
Date published: 2009-04-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Reads like fiction , but it's all true... Subtitled: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon -- Who hasn't watched the movies where an explorer or adventurer discovers a lost world or civilization? I personally am fascinated by the whole idea that there may still be some untouched or unfound something out there. The Lost City of Z isn't fiction - it's an incredible true story. In 1925 famed explorer Percy Fawcett set out to find the fabled city of El Dorado or as he referred to it - The Lost City of Z. Dispatches were sent back documenting his journey for the first two years, but then he and his expedition vanished - no trace of them ever to be heard of again. Many others followed, looking for Fawcett or his golden city. None have ever found it. David Grann, a staff writer for the New Yorker magazine, became enthralled with Fawcett's story as well. Grann discovers some of Fawcett's old journals that give him additional information on Fawcett's planned expedition. He decides to head to the Amazon himself and trace the explorer's route. What follows is an absolutely riveting tale. The history of Fawcett and other adventurers bent on mapping and mastering the Amazon is utterly fascinating. The book alternates between Fawcett's time, drawing on newspapers, journals and letters to present a real picture of his time and Grann's own growing obsession and pilgrimage. I had to keep reminding myself that this was real - documented history. I honestly couldn't put it down. Does he discover what happened to Fawcett and his lost party - well I'll leave that for you to explore. Brad Pitt is rumoured to be starring in a film version of The Lost City of Z coming out in 2010.
Date published: 2009-03-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fascinating! This is a biography of early twentieth century explorer, Percy Fawcett. Fawcett was an accomplished explorer of the Amazon jungles and recipient of the Royal Geographical Association's Gold Medal. He is most known for his determination in finding a lost city and civilization hidden in the depths of the jungle, often called El Dorado, Fawcett labeled his unfound city "Z". The book begins with Fawcett's early days as an explorer up to his infamous journey in which he took his 22-year old son with him and simply vanished from the face of the earth. Many others have gone in since to find him and either disappeared themselves or returned defeated and emaciated. Between chapters of Fawcett's story, the author occasionally jumps to his own tale of following in the footsteps of Fawcett's ill-fated last journey using modern technology. A very compelling read. Fawcett is truly a larger than life character and his story makes for good reading. I really enjoyed the time period, 1900s-1920s, and am fascinated with exploration of that period. A well written biography with plenty of original source quotations including from Fawcett's own journals. I only wish the book had included some photographs. I like to see who I'm reading about but all in all a very interesting and compelling biography and description of the days of exploration. Edited to Add: While my arc edition has no photographs, the finished book *will* have photos and maps. That's great news!
Date published: 2009-01-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Lost City of Z : A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Gramm “He was the last of the great Victorian explorers who ventured into uncharted realms with little more than a machete, a compass and an almost divine sense of purpose.” This sentence sums it all up in a nutshell. I congratulate the author on the tremendous amount of research he put into this and for actually risking his own life in his quest for the truth of the disappearance of the above explorer, Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett. Also to be appreciative of is David’s wife with their 1 year old son who, no matter her personal feelings also made his trip of discovery possible, even after Fawcett had been missing for 30 years and all searches to date had ended in failure or disappearance all together. Non-fiction, this is truly an amazing book! Fantastic debut! This is definitely not a romanticized version of exploration; it is instead the torturous journeys Fawcett made, mostly on foot, through the uncharted Amazon. Although the narrative is predominantly that of David Grann, it is based on all the letters, notes, drawing, mappings, every shred of written or noted information Fawcett sent or brought back to his wife with each new expedition. She kept every single piece of it and so did the Royal Geographical Society to which he belonged. There is a great deal of history, especially in early medical treatments in the jungle, as well as how to avoid starvation. Learning as much as was known about the tribes was essential also, but at this time, there was so little known about them that they were all presumed to be hostile. It was a new century, about all that was mapped on South America was Bolivia, Peru, and Brazil. There were gaping holes of nothing in between and they could not agree on their borders. Fawcett was ostensibly to be sent out as an impartial observer from the RGS to map the borders. This encompassed several hundred miles of nearly impassable terrain, a two year expedition with no guarantee any members would survive, but in Fawcett’s words “Destiny intended me to go...” They left July 4, 1906 from La Paz, Bolivia. He always insisted in small expedition parties, feeling they posed less threat to the indians. Many large well-equipped parties had been slaughtered or died of disease or starvation in the past. There are wonderful descriptions of the land, the flora and fauna because the explorers were to observe everything and note it. What really took hold of Fawcett though, was his utter belief in a lost city which he code-named as “Z”. He had made studies of all papers and notes by earlier expeditions. He had an obsessive need to locate the city which would have had a huge flourishing population at one time. No one would believe him except a few eccentrics who had stars in their eyes thinking of riches or perhaps the lost El Dorado. But every bit of his research led him closer and closer to where he believed this great city would be found. Many other wealthier explorers also were looking for the city and he was becoming paranoid someone would get there first, but always said they were on the wrong track. He meticulously studied his and others’ maps and drawings of topography, became friendly with many of the natives and learned from them as well. But, after several unsuccessful trips, he made his final trip in 1925 with his son and son’s friend as part of the party. Every expedition he led he felt closer to Z. Then they suddenly disappeared never to be heard of again. There were dispatches up to a certain area and then nothing. There were rescue missions launched but no sign could be found. Rumors abounded over the next several years. A reporter, our author David Grann, in 2005/6 made his case to get fund-raising to record indigenous people, cultures, and integration, with the search for what had happened firmly set in the back of his mind. And with this, the story begins to be told. I would recommend this to anyone: historians, anthropologists, fans of mysteries, non-fiction and fiction readers. What an adventure story! What a wild ride! I was completely absorbed in the book.
Date published: 2008-12-15

– More About This Product –

The Lost City Of Z: A Tale Of Deadly Obsession In The Amazon

by David Grann

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 448 pages, 7.98 × 5.17 × 0.91 in

Published: January 26, 2010

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1400078458

ISBN - 13: 9781400078455

About the Book

After stumbling upon a hidden trove of diaries, acclaimed "New Yorker" writer Grann sets out to solve "the greatest exploration mystery of the 20th century: what happened to the British explorer Percy Fawcett and his quest for the Lost City of Z?

Read from the Book

1 WE SHALL RETURN On a cold January day in 1925, a tall, distinguished gentleman hurried across the docks in Hoboken, New Jersey, toward the S.S. Vauban, a five-hundred-and-eleven-foot ocean liner bound for Rio de Janeiro. He was fifty-seven years old, and stood over six feet, his long arms corded with muscles. Although his hair was thinning and his mustache was flecked with white, he was so fit that he could walk for days with little, if any, rest or nourishment. His nose was crooked like a boxer''s, and there was something ferocious about his appearance, especially his eyes. They were set close together and peered out from under thick tufts of hair. No one, not even his family, seemed to agree on their color-some thought they were blue, others gray. Yet virtually everyone who encountered him was struck by their intensity: some called them "the eyes of a visionary." He had frequently been photographed in riding boots and wearing a Stetson, with a rifle slung over his shoulder, but even in a suit and a tie, and without his customary wild beard, he could be recognized by the crowds on the pier. He was Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett, and his name was known throughout the world. He was the last of the great Victorian explorers who ventured into uncharted realms with little more than a machete, a compass, and an almost divine sense of purpose. For nearly two decades, stories of his adventures had captivated the public''s imagination: how he had survived in the South Ame
read more read less

From the Publisher

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.

From the Jacket

“David Grann's The Lost City of Z is a deeply satisfying revelation—a look into the life and times of one of the last great territorial explorers, P. H. Fawcett, and his search for a lost city in the Amazon. I mean, what could be better—obsession, mystery, deadly insects, shrunken heads, suppurating wounds, hostile tribesmen—all for us to savor in our homes, safely before the fire.”—Erik Larson, author of Thunderstruck, Devil in the White Cit,y and Isaac’s Storm

"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." —Charles Mann, author of 1491

"The story of Z goes to the heart of the central questions of our age. In the battle between man and a hostile environment, who wins? A fascinating and brilliant book."—Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and The Tipping Point

“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.”—Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals

"What a wild and adventurous life! In the deft storytelling hands of David Grann, explorer Percy Fawcett emerges as one of the most ambitious, colorful, just plain intrepid figures ever to set foot in the New World. Part Indiana Jones, part Livingstone, and part Kit Carson, Fawcett has found his perfect biographer in Grann, who has gamely endured every conceivable Amazonian hardship to piece together the story of this British swashbuckler and his crazed search for a vanished civilization."— Hampton Sides, author of Blood and Thunder and Ghost Soldiers

“David Grann takes the reader on an extraordinary journey that snakes through expeditionary archives and ends deep in the Amazonian forest. The Lost City of Z is a gripping tale of a lost world and of the magnificent obsession of those who have sought it.” —Caroline Alexander, author of The Bounty and The Endurance

"The Amazon has had many chroniclers but few who can match David Grann's grasp of history, science, and especially narrative. Shifting seamlessly between the past and present, The Lost City of Z is a riveting, totally absorbing real-life adventure story."—Nathaniel Philbrick, author of Mayflower and In the Heart of the Sea

“A fantastic story of courage, obsession, and mystery, The Lost City of Z is gripping from beginning to end. In the pantheon of classic exploration tales, this stands out as one of the best.” —Candice Millard, author The River of Doubt

“A wonderfully researched true story about an intrepid adventurer, a colorful cast, and an obsession that grips both him and the author.”—Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein

About the Author

DAVID GRANN is a longtime staff writer at The New Yorker. He has written about everything from New York City’s antiquated water tunnels to the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang, from the hunt for the giant squid to the mysterious death of the world’s greatest Sherlock Holmes expert. His stories have appeared in several Best American writing anthologies, and he has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Republic. A collection of his stories, The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, will be published in spring 2010.

Editorial Reviews

“Suspenseful. . . . Rollicking. . . . Reads with all the pace and excitement of a movie thriller. . . . The Lost City of Z is at once a biography, a detective story and a wonderfully vivid piece of travel writing that combines Bruce Chatwinesque powers of observation with a Waugh-like sense of the absurd. Mr. Grann treats us to a harrowing reconstruction of Fawcett’s forays into the Amazonian jungle, as well as an evocative rendering of the vanished age of exploration.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times   “Breathtaking. . . . Grann brings Fawcett’s remarkable story to a beautifully written, perfectly paced fruition. . . . Any writer who can breathe life into letters written by scientists in the early 1900s deserves more than a hat tip.” — The Los Angeles Times   “Brilliant. . . . Impressively researched and skillfully crafted. . . . Grann makes abundantly clear in this fascinating, epic story of exploration and obsession, [that] the lethal attraction of the Amazon mystery remains strong.” — The Boston Globe   “A smart biographical page-turner.” — USA Today   “Grann escapes death and tracks down Z, giving the reader the kind of Indiana Jones kicks best experienced vicariously.” — Details   “A riveting, exciting and thoroughly compelling tale of adventure.” —John Grisham   “Thoroughly researched, vividly told. . . . Gran
read more read less

Bookclub 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