Study Guide

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon Chapter 17

By David Grann

Chapter 17

The Whole World Is Mad

  • Fawcett believes he has tracked down the coordinates of an ancient Amazonian city near the Xingu River.
  • Always secretive, Fawcett names it "Z." Anyone who reads his writings will think he's just a huge Zorro fan, we guess.
  • In 1914, Fawcett wants to take another expedition to find Z.
  • There's one small problem: World War I.
  • We hate when a world war interrupts our plans.
  • Fawcett joins the fight and even digs trenches in France.
  • Even though the world is at war, Fawcett's rival, Rice, prepares to launch another expedition in 1916. Fawcett is jealous.
  • Fawcett perseveres during the war and is even awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. His heroic actions don't keep him from obsessing about Z, though.
  • On leave, Fawcett seeks help from mediums, psychics, and Ouija boards for everything from Z's whereabouts to military strategies.
  • Time it ticking for Fawcett who, as WWI winds down, is fifty-two years old.
  • You can't wander around the Amazon jungle with a walker. The bugs will eat it.
  • After the war, Fawcett struggles to get funding for his expedition. His colleagues think that Z is a load of hogwash.
  • Fawcett relocates his family to Jamaica, but he's ja-makin' himself crazy thinking about Z.
  • Fawcett travels to Brazil in the hopes of securing funding from the Brazilian government.
  • Meanwhile, Rice is raking in the dough. If he had a Kickstarter page, he'd be funded within an hour.
  • With his high-tech equipment—you know, things like a two-way radio—Rice continues charting the Amazon.
  • News reaches Fawcett of a violent altercation between Rice and some Yanomami Indians.
  • Rice orders his men to shoot to kill. Fawcett criticizes Rice for fleeing and for being "rather too soft for the real game" (17.51). This is the early 1900s version of Twitter beef.
  • In Brazil, Fawcett pleads his case for Z.
  • Brazilian officials worry that Fawcett wants to exploit the jungle's resources for the benefit of England. They also worry he may be a spy.
  • The Brazilians suggest that Fawcett create a joint Brazilian-British expedition—Britzilla?—but Fawcett wants to do it alone.
  • The government insists the expedition include their own men.
  • However, economic problems soon prompt the Brazilians to back out, leaving Fawcett with just enough money to scratch by with a small group of his own men.
  • Fawcett brings an Australian boxer named Lewis Brown and an American ornithologist named Ernest Holt.
  • Within a month, the animals collapse, and both Brown and Holt have gone crazy and gotten sick.
  • Most shocking is that Fawcett, too, develops an infection in his leg. Did he trip over a kryptonite bush?
  • The men must retreat, and Fawcett dismisses both Brown and Holt.
  • In 1921, Fawcett returns to the jungle alone. His solo expedition lasts three months before he must retreat again. But he vows to return.