Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston

This riveting and superbly told tale is highly recommended for historians and armchair scholars alike. Douglas Preston has written a true-life adventure story that is layered with a texture of history, wild characters, dangerous situations, and exotic locations. There is intrigue, suspense, and notebooks of facts and figures, and it all flows into a compelling and unforgettable story. To his credit, Douglas Preston never presents himself as a hero of any type; in fact, quite the opposite. He paints himself as an impartial but excited observer. The Lost City of the Monkey God is Preston’s chronicle of a series of events commencing in 2012 when he joined a team of scientists and visited a remote Honduran archeological site which turned out to be the sprawling remnants of a lost civilization. I couldn’t put this book down. You’ll meet the diverse and talented team that includes Steve Elkins, the late Bruce Heinicke, Chris Fisher, Andrew Wood, Bill Berenson and so many others. Douglas Preston acknowledges their hard work with respect and admiration. The tale of this lost city involves several historical figures, and Preston gives each his attention. The ghosts of William Duncan Strong, Sam Glassmire and Theodore Morde haunt the story, as readers will discover. The historical events leading up to this expedition involve heroic exploration, wild adventure, deceit, deception, legends and lies. Taken together, the tale of Ciudad Blanca, the “White City,” reads like a pulp fiction adventure story, except it’s all real. Preston also documents the public criticism of the expedition, which he handles fairly. You’ll get a taste of the academic community’s seamy side and wonder how such allegedly educated people can wallow in greed and egotism. This is my perception, not Preston’s who handles the matter diplomatically, although you won’t have to guess what his opinion is. The sobering facts at the conclusion are an eye-opener involving the transmission of certain diseases, and the importance of Preston’s story wasn’t lost on this reader. There are several pages of photographs, but I would have preferred a few more photos. I highly recommend The Lost City of the Monkey God. Douglas Preston has told an amazing story that you won’t want to miss!

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