Tuesday, July 2, 2013

David Grann's "The Lost World of Z"

David Grann's enchanting exploration non-fiction "The Lost World of Z" takes the reader to the Mato Grosso/Xingu Region in the Amazonian Forests in Brazil which presents the opportunity for dangerous yet exciting adventure into the jungleland. Grann follows the footsteps of legendary explorer Percy H. Fawcett who, along with his son and his friend, vanished into the "counterfeit paradise" around 1925 while searching for the lost world which he dubbed Z (maybe zenith, the last frontier). Also known as El Dorado, this lost world was supposed to be a locale of ancient civilization with affluence as its cornerstone. It may just be hoax but that does not deter the enthusiastic explorers to venture into this terra incognita. However, the path is perilous as many people have encountered hostility from both the nature and the natives. Fawcett possesses great endurance power (a Victorian gentleman with full restraint) compared to other explorers but he too is just human. He may have been killed by the natives or he may have turned his back to the civilization - one never knows what happened to him. Grann joins the legion of Fawcett searchers and goes to the dense forest himself and gets some clues which may or may not answer questions regarding Fawcett's disappearance. The book is written in a documentary style. Grann describes Fawcett's journeys into "the green hell" as excavated from Fawcett's diaries. In between, he provides his own attempts and ultimate journey to the jungle. He manages to do all this in an engaging manner that holds the rapt attention of the reader. He gives detailed character sketches of every person involved in the exploration. Nature is bewitching and many have fallen to its lures. Many have disappeared in the process of exploration while many have "conquered" it.  Those of us who can't afford to go to distant places for exploration derive vicarious pleasure from reading these kinds of books. Recommended!   

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