Study Guide

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon Chapter 12

By David Grann

Chapter 12

In the Hands of the Gods

  • In 1907, Fawcett is excited to be returning home. Paved streets, church bells, buses and taxis. The early 1900s have never seemed so civilized.
  • After a couple of months, that civilization makes Fawcett feel stifled. He wants to return to the jungle.
  • Over the next fifteen years, Fawcett continues mapping the Amazon.
  • Meanwhile, Nina is left to care for their three children all by herself.
  • Nina doesn't resent Fawcett, though. She is his biggest supporter. She even dreams of going with him on an expedition someday.
  • In South America, Fawcett is lauded for his thorough mapping of the jungle.
  • Fawcett has a mythical reputation because he never seems to get sick. A popular adventure writer calls him "fever-proof" (12.15).
  • Fawcett, though, expects all of his men to have similar levels of invulnerability.
  • Many men get kicked off the expedition, or they quit.
  • In 1911, Fawcett is paired up with James Murray, a renowned polar scientist who accompanied Shackleton on an expedition to Antarctica.
  • Murray is pretty cocky. He's all like, I slid around on solid ice; the jungle can't be that hard.
  • Murray, baby, we've got some advice: do you see any penguins in the jungle?
  • Murray's introduction to the jungle is a rough one. The men and their animals are feasted on by vampire bats at night.
  • Will Fawcett awaken in the dead of night and feed on Murray himself?
  • Murray soon falls behind and gets lost.
  • Fawcett must backtrack to find Murray's lazy butt, and he chews the dude out.
  • The two become more antagonistic every day. Murray complains. Fawcett yells at him.
  • One day, Fawcett accuses Murray of stealing food. It's like the time that one dude on Survivor smuggled in beef jerky.
  • Murray starts to literally fall apart. His fingernails fall off. He develops large, dripping sores. And he sprays diarrhea all over the place.
  • Sorry if you're eating, folks.
  • Reluctantly, Fawcett deviates from his course to get Murray to a settlement.
  • Dudes find a man with a mule who promises to carry to Murray back to civilization.
  • Without Murray and his disintegrating body parts holding them back, Fawcett and the rest of his men complete their mission.
  • They never hear from Murray again.
  • Just kidding. Murray appears a month later, having been nursed back to health on the border of Bolivia and Peru.
  • Murray is furious that Fawcett tried to have him declared dead.
  • The Royal Geographic Society pleads with Fawcett to form a truce with Murray.
  • Fawcett is like, U MAD BRO. There is no record of an apology.
  • Murray, done with jungle life, takes his next expedition to the Arctic.
  • Six weeks into that journey, Murray leads a mutiny against the captain and escapes on a sled into the snow.
  • Murray is never seen again.
  • For real this time.