Study Guide

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon Strength and Skill

By David Grann

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Strength and Skill

Because there are so many jungle exploration video games—all the way back to Pitfall and up to Uncharted 4: A Thief's End—we often think of video games when thinking about The Lost City of Z. If Colonel Percy Fawcett were a video game character, we'd think he used some sort of cheat code to max out his stats. Our super colonel has high intelligence, rock solid defenses, and stamina that is off the charts. His incredible strength—mental and physical—allows him to get as far in the jungle as he does. But even he is unable to reach his ultimate goal. There must be a bug in the system: finding Z appears to be an unbeatable game.

Questions About Strength and Skill

  1. What is Fawcett's greatest strength? What does he have that other men lack?
  2. Is there one standard by which to measure strength when it comes to explorers of the Amazon? How do different explorers, like Dyott, measure strength?
  3. How does Fawcett's strength lend to his myth? Do you think people want to be as strong as Fawcett, and that's why they attempt the same journey?

Chew on This

Fawcett is so strong he is borderline invincible. But like Achilles, Fawcett has a weakness. His weakness is that his ambition goes unchecked: he keeps going and going until he literally goes off the map, never to return.

David Grann isn't as strong as Percy Fawcett. No offense, Dave. Grann compensates for this with technology, using modern tools to make up for his weaknesses.

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