The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon

David Grann

About the Author:
David Grann is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and an award-winning staff writer at The New Yorker magazine. His latest book, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, was released in 2017. Based on years of research, it explores one of the most sinister crimes and racial injustices in American history.
His first book, The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, became a #1 New York Times bestseller and has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. The Lost City of Z has been adapted into a major motion picture, which will be released in theaters in April 2017.
Before joining The New Yorker in 2003, Grann was a senior editor at The New Republic, and, from 1995 until 1996, the executive editor of the newspaper The Hill. He holds master's degrees in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy as well as in creative writing from Boston University. After graduating from Connecticut College in 1989, he received a Thomas Watson Fellowship and did research in Mexico, where he began his career in journalism. He currently lives in New York with his wife and two children. (Book Browse)

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. (Barnes and Noble)

Discussion Questions:

  • What inspired Col. Percy Harrison Fawcett's obsessive search for Z...what evidence led him to believe the city was more than legend?
  • How does Grann portray Fawcett? What kind of a man was he? Would you describe him as a victim of his own a romantic...a fool bent on his own destruction...a rational man of science...?
  • What are some of the legends that have surrounded Fawcett himself? To what do you attribute his place in popular culture over the years—and what does it say, both about Fawcett and ourselves, that he has maintained a hold on our collective imagination?
  • How did Fawcett differ from his rival, Alexander Hamilton Rice—especially in the approach to exploration? Were the two men evenly matched in skill and technology...or not? In what way did Rice, perhaps, represent the future of modern exploration?
  • What draws David Grann into the search for Fawcett—what initially sparks the author's fascination? Consider Grann's own difficulty in the Amazon, especially for a man who delights in air conditioning and fast food. Finally, what new information does Grann contribute to solving the mystery surrounding Fawcett's disappearance?
  • Where does Grann stand with regard to the existence of Z? What conclusions does he reach? Where do you stand?
  • What are some of the more surprising, even shocking, accounts of jungle exploration you found in this work?
  • Does this book remind you of other stories of those obsessed with adventure or other cultures: The Man Who Loved China...or Bill Bryson's misguided but humorous adventure on the Appalachian Trail? Any resemblance to fictional works ... say, Conrad's Heart of Darkness...or Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude?