This being a nonfiction story, many real people are mentioned, but not everyone is developed into a well-rounded character. These people come close, but like Fawcett on his search for Z, they never actually reach it. George Lynch is one of Fawcett's contemporaries who helps him raise money by selling his story rights to a variety of newspapers. However, when Lynch is found "drunk and surrounded by prostitutes" (18.33), the newspapers get a totally different story than they were bargaining for. At that point, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. steps in with funding.
James Lynch (no relation) is a modern-day explorer searching for Fawcett. He disappeared in 1996, and his story holds some clues for Grann as to Fawcett's fate. He is also similar to Fawcett—he has children, he takes a son with him into the jungle, and he almost doesn't make it out alive. Lynch's biggest contribution is this reality check: "You know, I had a lot of romantic notions about the jungle and this kind of finished that" (13.13). Exploring the Amazon is fun until someone gets eaten by a piranha.
Lewis Brown and Ernest Holt are two men who accompany Fawcett before his final expedition. Brown quits early, an act that foreshadows Raleigh Rimmell's mental collapse. However, Holt, while also weak, insists on continuing. Like Murray, Holt brings out Fawcett's paranoid tendencies, as Fawcett suspects Holt is a spy sent to sabotage him.
Paulo Pinage is a"professional samba dancer and theater director" (19.3) who guides Grann into the jungle. He too provides Grann with a much-needed reality check: "I can take you there, but it's not easy" (19.3). Also, he shows us that if you want to try to find Fawcett, you should probably recruit Derek Hough or Maks Chmerkovskiy to go with you.
Finally, we have anthropologist Michael Heckenberger. We'd read a whole book about this guy, who seems to be a modern-day Fawcett. He lives in the jungle with a tribe instead of, you know, teaching at a university or something. He provides Grann with much-needed insight into Z's potential existence. Check out our "What's up with the ending?" section for more on that.
Also, the guy only wears swim shorts, so now we've got an idea for an easy Halloween costume.