Study Guide

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

By David Grann

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We don't know what David Grann's favorite fragrance is, but if we had to guess, we'd say he douses himself with Calvin Klein's Obsession. Dude gets obsessed with everything; might as well smell like it.

On the other hand, Percy Fawcett, Grann's subject in The Lost City of Z, would probably bathe himself in a healthy mix of Obsession, with a little Ambition thrown in for good measure. Yeah, we're thinking this dude would be just like someone wearing way too much Axe Body Spray, although maybe in the Amazon they call Axe by a different name: Machete.

The point is that Fawcett oozes ambition. This guy is driven by a single-minded goal: to find Z, at all costs. Spoiler alert: he pays the ultimate price. Was it worth it?

Questions About Ambition

  1. Why is Fawcett so ambitious? Would you characterize him as more ambitious or obsessed?
  2. What is Fawcett's ultimate goal? Does he share the same goal as his son Jack?
  3. Would you consider Grann ambitious? What does he hope to achieve? Does he reach his goal, or does he quit?

Chew on This

Anyone going into the jungle in Fawcett's time is ambitious. Exploring the Amazon is a high-risk endeavor with very little reward. These men must be intrinsically motivated to be successful, which suggests that they are searching for something within themselves, not necessarily something within the jungle.

The difference between "ambition" and "obsession" is that ambition involves actual hard work, while obsession can be entirely mental. Fawcett is more ambitious than obsessed.

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon Ambition Study Group

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