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The Lost City of the Monkey God is the first non-fiction book I’ve read by Douglas Preston. I love his Special Agent Pendergast series co-authored with Lincoln Child, but I was not sure what to expect from a real-life account story.
The book turned out to be just as interesting as everything else Preston has written so far.
The story is about a lost – almost mythological – city called La Ciudad Blanca (the White City). After decades of fruitless searches by other archaeological teams, Douglas Preston decided that he would go on the search as well.
So he embarked on an expedition to a remote and dangerous corner of the world, a place left pristine for centuries. All the previous attempts at finding it failed. Many thought they knew where the White City was, but nobody could pinpoint its exact location.
That is until now.
The expedition that Douglas Preston took part in was organized in 2015 and it was not easy or pretty. Impenetrable forests had danger lurking in every corner. If not mosquitoes and spiders, then you would find snakes. If not snakes, then malaria, thirst, jungle fever and everything else in between would get to you eventually.
When the author was briefed on these upcoming dangers, he paid attention and took precautions. And still, it was not enough.
I don’t often learn new words from books I read, but The Lost City taught me several. For example, I’d never heard of leishmaniasis before, but I did now.
This parasite is transmitted through the bite of sand flies and the resulting hideous illness is often deadly. At the very least it’s extremely difficult and painful to cure. And it managed to infect half the crew, including the author himself.
But was this bug also deadly enough to cause the extinction of an entire city some 500 years ago? Or did that ancient civilization die out of something else?
The author discusses this point at length.
When it returned to civilization, the expedition was viciously attacked by several other archaeologists. Some claimed that the city didn’t actually exist. Others that this expedition opened up the area to ruthless looters. And what about the dangers of deforestation?
These, in fact, are all valid questions that make you think. And in the book the writer touches the ethics of archaeology, leaving us with all too real thought-provoking questions.
It took me a few days to finish the book because I read it with Google open on my next screen. It has no accompanying photos, so I wanted to see and read more about the famous searches for the White City.
The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Source: Review Copy
Also by this author: White Fire, Extraction, Blue Labyrinth, Crimson Shore, Beyond The Ice Limit, The Obsidian Chamber, City of Endless Night