David Grann On His Bestseller "Lost City of Z"

Feb 11, 2011

In 1925, former spy and acclaimed British explorer Percy Harrison Fawcett walked into the Amazon rainforest in search of the fabled lost city of El Dorado — and disappeared. In the decades that followed, scores of adventurers tried, and failed, to retrace his steps. Many died. Others faced harrowing encounters with native tribes, poisoned arrows, cannibalism, dense rainforest, flesh-eating piranhas and massive pythons. None solved what had come to be known as the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth century.

Stumbling across the tale years later, New Yorker staff writer David Grann became captivated by Fawcett’s story and determined to discover his fate. A city boy with no previous camping experience, he outfitted himself for the journey of a lifetime and set off into the unknown. His book, The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, offers a thrilling recount of his adventures.

The Lost City of Z was a No. 1 New York Times bestseller and has been translated into more than 25 languages. Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, the book was chosen as one of the best books of 2009 by the New York Times, the Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, Bloomberg, Publishers Weekly and the Christian Science Monitor. Mr. Grann also is the author of The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, and he joined us by phone from New York City.