The Lost City of Z: David Grann
There are some true-to-life mysteries that are never laid to rest. The exploration of the Amazonian jungle was originally kick-started by marauding conquistadors, whose sole intent was the acquisition of gold and territory. Under the banner of Spanish imperialism and Christian conquest, they set in motion an era of plunder and ethnic cleansing that decimated hundreds of ancient civilisations, many of which had levels of culture and education that left European civilization trailing.
The Lost City of Z is a book that can be numbered amongst the most outstanding that have dealt with lost civilizations, impenetrable jungles and legendary cities of gold. El Dorado was a creation of the Spanish conquistadors. The Lost City of Z was identified and named by Percy Fawcett who, in the years preceding World War I, was sponsored by the Royal Geographical Society to map out the unexplored hinterland between Bolivia and Brazil.
This is a story of a man who became so obsessed by his belief in the existence of Z that, in his several expeditions (one truncated by the advent of war) he was not only prepared to risk his own life in his quest, but he endangered the lives of many who formed part of his teams. It was not unusual for him to lose more than half his men to disease, but the greatest sacrifice came when, not only did he himself disappear forever, but so did his own son Jack.
The myth of Fawcett and his expeditions was so powerful, and belief in the existence of Z so real, that more than a hundred people died in later years following in his footsteps. It is strange to observe how the obsession of one man can stir the obsessional tendencies of so many in his wake.