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Douglas Preston's book is an account of an expedition that he was the resident journalist on, to find the fabled lost city of Ciudad Blanca in Honduras. Myths have it that the city was abandoned and a curse placed on it by a monkey god.
Preston writes about past efforts - some more genuine than others - to locate Ciudad Blanca and then describes how modern military technology was used to conduct an aerial search of impenetrable jungle, which revealed the likely presence of some major Mesoamerican construction sites. Preston then formed part of the expedition that flew in to get a better look at what they had seen from the air.
Writing for a general audience, Preston focuses more on the boy's own derring-do aspects of the story, with lots of encounters with snakes and other critters, appalling weather and even a curse of sorts. On that level this is an absorbing and interesting read, but I would have preferred to learn more about the archaeological and anthropological significance of what they discovered there. It may be that there is not yet enough work done on these sites for much to be written about that, and hopefully there will be another book sometime that tells us more about the finds than the finding of them.
A well-written account of an expedition into hostile country. However, for me the book did not really work. The story jumped from place to place and the description of making the finds, and the finds themselves, seemed incidental to the author’s coverage of a raft of other associated topics. While these topics were interesting, they were peripheral to the main theme: the archaeology. The book desperately needed maps and sketches. How you can write a book with a strong geographical content but provide no maps was extraordinary. Even a map showing where Honduras is in the world would have been useful! I also found it strange that there weren’t more photographs of the finds. For instance there were two photographs of a dead snake but only three of the finds. In summary a disappointing read.
Taking a leaf out of his own adventure novels, the author heads off for real into the Honduran jungle to find a fable lost city from an equally lost past civilisation.
With SAS protection against lawless drug cartels and archaeological thieves, the team find the lost ruins (this is not a spoiler as the trip and discovery have been well documented).
But there the adventure turns sour and many of them experience the very thing which could have caused an entire civilisation to pack up and leave their world. Centuries old issues arise from disturbing the jungle ruins and whilst they don’t dampen the author’s enthusiasm for the tale, the end is a sobering insight into the consequences of history.
Read the book review in the newspaper and got the book. The full account of the discovery of the lost city in Honduras was fascinating. Both mystery, history and adventure and very well written. And a warning to us all from history. Recommend it!
I knew nothing about the latest development in aerial image detection and analysis, or how it could be used in modern archeology, but this was key to re-discover the abandoned ruins deep in the Honduras jungle. A fascinating, sometimes gruesome story told, which holds a grip on the reader all the way through the book. Highly recommendable!
I usually like Preston's books but this one lost me along the way some where. I like the premise of the story and the writing wasn't bad but didn't develop as I thought it would and my interest tailed off. Disappointing as I said I usually enjoy this author but not this one.
Part history, part adventure story. Well written and gripping tale. Like the balance the author displayed to some of the contentious aspects. The final sections of the book - reading them in May 2020 - are very prescient on the likelihood of a global pandemic. Recommended.