I don’t know about you all, but I was totally hooked by the preface. Wasn’t it so good? Immediately, it transported me into the jungle with David Grann, and I could imagine myself in his shoes as he tried to follow his map despite the fact that he was lost and covered in bug bites. Were you worried about Grann? Did you wonder how he made it out of the jungle intact enough to write the book?
What were your first impressions of Fawcett? In those first pages of description, we see that he is hardened, adventurous, and determined. Did he fit your image of what an explorer should be? Did he make you think of Indiana Jones? I loved the descriptions in chapter six about the explorer school he attended before he went out on his first missions. Those classes and skills that Fawcett learned there were indispensable—especially since he was embarking into completely into unknown territory. Could you imagine having to learn so many different ways to survive and adapt since you didn’t really know what you would encounter once you got to your destination? My favorite thing that Fawcett learned was that if he got a venomous snakebite, he would have to “ignite gunpowder in the wound” and “burn out” the infected area with an iron ramrod. If I heard that sort of suggestion, I would immediately give up all of my dreams of becoming an explorer. Can you imagine thinking about attempting those sorts of medical procedures? Would explorer school have scared you away from being an explorer?
In chapter eight, Grann casually mentions that Theodore Roosevelt explored an Amazon tributary in 1914. I had no idea that Roosevelt took an Amazon journey, so I did a little digging to find out more about his trip. Apparently, Roosevelt went on the trip after losing the election that would have given him a third presidential term. The journey was so hard that he almost died—at one point, he demanded to be left alone to die in the jungle. If you want to read more about his journey, check out this article from History.com. And, if you want to watch a documentary about his journey, check out Into the Amazon from American Experience on PBS. Check out the trailer, if you’re interested.
What other parts of these first eight chapters stood out to you? What did you think of the story of the father and son team who tried to follow Fawcett’s journey, only to be kidnapped by Indians? What did you think of the sections where Grann writes about his own preparations for attempting to explore the jungle?
I hope you’ll leave a comment telling me your thoughts on these first chapters. I’m really interested to see if you are enjoying this book as much as I did. Make sure you read chapters 9–16 for next week. I look forward to interacting with you in the comments section!