Thursday, March 25, 2010

Non-Fiction Literature 1

Title: The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
Author: David Grann
Publisher: Vintage Departures
Copyright: 2009
Recommended Grade Level: 9th - 12th

Lately, I have been reading a lot of narrative non-fiction that has been recommended on a podcast, Books on the Nightstand, which I listen to quite regularly. I heard this book mentioned several times, and while shopping with a friend at Target I finally bought it. I could not put the book down! And, while it is not necessarily a "young adult" book, I find it fascinating and an easy and interesting biography and historical account of exploration.

The book accounts the exploits of Percy Fawcett, a legendary British explorer who vanished into the Amazon in 1925. Fawcett, a capable and intelligent explorer, had made many trips into the Amazon and faired extremely well. But, Fawcett, obsessed with discovering the ancient civilization of El Dorado (Z), on his final exploration, ventured into the most remote regions of the Amazon with his oldest son, Jack, and Jack's dear friend, Raleigh Rimell, and was never heard from again. David Grann physically explored the trail Fawcett took on his fateful trip in 1925. Grann also detailed the various rescue attempts that ended in madness and death.

I knew only the basics of the Fawcett story before reading this book, and I knew very little about the Amazon - just the tidbits we all learn in elementary and middle school. Like with any well-written non-fiction book, there is so much covered in 300 pages that a simple summary cannot do the book justice. I think this would be an excellent book for a history, geography, or science classroom. It is a great reminder of the bravery and stupidity of men in the age when there were still blank spaces on a map.

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