Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Vicarious Exploration-The Best Kind!

Not too long ago I blogged about David Grann's book The Lost City of Z, which I really enjoyed. It's the fascinating story of Percy Fawcett, who walked into the Amazon Jungle in 1925 with his son and another young man in search of what he called "The Lost City of Z," and none of the three were heard from again! Grann tells Fawcett's story and also heads into the jungle himself to see what he can find out.

Because that book stirred up my juices to read early exploration stories, I decided to read The River of Doubt, by Candice Millard, which tells the story of Theodore Roosevelt heading down an unmapped tributary of the Amazon in 1912, following his painful defeat in the presidential election. Interestingly, he took his son along with him as well. Millard tells the fascinating story of this incredibly poorly planned and dangerous trip (which would have been wickedly dangerous even if well planned).

Since I'm still in an exploring sort of mood but looking for something a little lighter in tone, I've decided to read A Voyage Long and Strange: On the Trail of Vikings, Conquistadors, Lost Colonists, and Other Adventures in Early America, by Tony Horwitz. So far so good! Some of Horwitz's previous books are Confederates in the Attic (about civil war re-enacters), Blue Latitudes (Captain Cook), and Baghdad without a Map (the Middle East) -- all written with his characteristic sharp wit and eye for detail. Horwitz is a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist who now lives on Martha's Vineyard with his Pulitzer-Prize-winning wife, the author Geraldine Brooks (March, People of the Book).

I'd recommend all of these books as good reads -- and we've got them all at Broadway Books! For the record, the Grann book is still in hardback only, while the other two are available in paperback. Also for the record, I'd MUCH rather read about the hideous insects, fish (candiru - ugh!), and other deadly or just plain annoying wildlife of the jungle than ever set foot there myself. Aren't books wonderful???

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