Reading Group Center

Armchair Adventure: The Lost City of Z

A New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, and Denver Post Bestseller

One of the Top Ten Books of the Year,
declares Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times: “Suspenseful…. Rollicking…. Reads with all the pace and excitement of a movie thriller.”

David Grann’s riveting national bestseller goes on sale today in paperback! This incredible story traces the adventures of legendary Amazon explorer Percy Fawcett, whose expeditions helped map vast, uncharted areas of South America. But it was his mysterious disappearance while searching for a lost city he simply named Z that made him infamous and spawned a legion of followers. In this masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, journalist David Grann interweaves the spellbinding stories of Fawcett’s quest for “Z” with a fascinating portrait of the man himself and the family that shaped him.

Sample questions for discussion:
• After time away from the jungle, Fawcett wrote: “Inexplicably—amazingly—I knew I loved that hell. Its fiendish grasp had captured me, and I wanted to see it again” [p. 116]. What drove Fawcett to plunge himself again and again into the dangers of the Amazon? What is the main force that drives him—obsession with finding the lost city, desire to prove himself against his competitors, a need to escape the confines of civilization, a spiritual quest?

• How do Fawcett’s expeditions affect his wife Nina? How does she see her role in relation to him? In what ways does she succumb to his obsessions?

Print the complete reading group guide.

Feature video:
Watch a clip of the author discussing what makes Fawcett’s story so captivating for readers.