Study Guide

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon Chapter 1

By David Grann

Chapter 1

We Shall Return

  • The year is 1925.
  • Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett—no relations to Colonels Mustard or Sanders—is an intrepid explorer preparing for an Amazonian expedition.
  • Inspired by legends of the golden city of El Dorado, Fawcett believes that a mythical city exists in the Amazon, one that proves civilization can flourish in the harsh climate of the jungle.
  • Fawcett believes the discovery of this city will "forever alter the Western view of the Americas" (1.11).
  • But Fawcett worries that another explorer, like Alexander Hamilton Rice, will beat him to it.
  • Fawcett is only bringing two people with him on this dangerous expedition: his son, Jack, and Jack's best friend, Raleigh Rimmell. They're in their early 20s, but Fawcett trusts they will be able to handle the grueling wilderness.
  • The dudes set off for South America from New Jersey, a place that makes piranhas in the Amazon River seem friendly.
  • They tell reporters, "We shall return, and we shall bring back what we seek!" (1.25).
  • The next chapter is titled "The Vanishing," so don't count on it.