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Lost Cities!

Discussion in 'The Reading Room' started by MikeKardec, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec Practically Family

    Just finishing The Lost City of the Monkey God, a recently published non fiction work by novelist and archeology writer for National Geographic and The New Yorker, Douglas Preston. An excellent and detailed account of the discovery of the mythical Cuidad Blanca in Honduras. Protected by a very real curse, a hideous disease that many of the expedition contracted, Cuidad Blanca or, in it's dramatic 1930s incarnation, "The Lost City of the Monkey God" was rumored to be hiding in the Mosquitia Highlands for the last 500 years. Searched for by intrepid explorers, used to manipulate investors by charlatans, and finally revealed to the world through the use of a classified apparatus borrowed from military intelligence, Cuidad Blanca is the archeological discovery of the century, a complete and unlooted Mayan-era city, protected from the elements and mankind since before the Spanish Conquest.

    Great stuff!

    Some similar titles --

    The Road to Ubar, Nicholas Clapp; a lost desert trading center, swallowed by the sands, referred to in legend, history and fiction (HP Lovecraft!) is finally discovered using an earlier generation of surveillance technology and then explored by contemporary men and women.

    The Lost Oasis
    , Saul Kelly; another hunt for a vanished "white city," this time in the Sahara. This book contains the prehistory of the Long Range Desert Group and some of the research behind the novel The English Patient.

    The Lost City of Z
    , David Gramm; the author traces the mysterious disappearance of one of the greatest explorers of the 20th Century PH Fawcett and the mythical city he searched for in the Amazon.

    Lost Trails Lost Cities
    , PH Fawcett; the man in his own words ... at least until he vanished.

    Lords of Sipan
    , Sidney Kirkpatrick; following the trail of stolen, pre Inca artifacts.

    Rivers Ran East
    , Leonard Clark; in the late 1940s Clark treked to South America following rumors of an El Dorado in the Amazon.
  2. greatestescaper

    greatestescaper One of the Regulars

    Well there's another for my book list... I have enjoyed many books of Douglas Preston. Currently though I'm reading a book on the traps, tools, and firearms of Mountain Men. A bit dry perhaps, but chock-full of great information.
  3. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec Practically Family

    I love that historical "how to" sort of material. "The Prairie Traveler" is also a good one; a hand book for what to expect and how to prepare for the Oregon Trail.
    greatestescaper likes this.
  4. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Practically Family

    Have read both "The Lost City of the Monkey God" and "The Lost City of Z." I find something about the genre irresistible. (Theodor Morde was an amazing guy. Someone should write his biography. Explorer/spy/soldier/diplomat. I find it hard to believe he committed suicide and prefer to believe the "murdered by spies" theory.) Anyway, what I like about these books is that I like to believe that there are still unsolved mysteries out there and that not everything has been discovered and explained yet.* Saw this story recently and it made me happy...


    * - Not to mention that these books are a good dose of reality regarding the difficulties of jungle travel on foot (maggots burrowing beneath your living skin! ugh!)
    greatestescaper likes this.
  5. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec Practically Family

    Another good one is "House of Rain" by Craig Childs which tracks the ""vanished"" Anasazi (ancestral puebloans) from their beginnings through their diaspora into Mexico. Vanished deserved double quotes because the old story is that they "vanished," because early 20th century European Americans couldn't imagine anyone leaving a city behind. Then there was the updated, politically correct (and kind of actually correct) history that shows that they really are just the ancestors of the Hopi Zuni and various "pueblo" tribes. And THEN there is the history that Childs covers which shows that BOTH theories may be true ... they were the ancestors of current North American tribes but at the same time something terrible broke them up and moved them south. It is also the case that, for some mysterious reason, archeologists covering the US tend to pretend that their field is separate from archeology in Mexico, as if the border mattered 1000 years before it was established.
  6. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Practically Family

    Lost cities. The other day I was in a dusty, over-stuffed used bookstore and a beat-up paperback practically jumped off the shelf at me.

    The book is titled “Kingdom” and the author is Tom Martin. It has been a while since I devoured a novel so voraciously.

    In short, it is about the lost kingdom of Shangri-La or Shambhala. What an adventure! This fictional yarn is “old school”. Although set in the here and now, it is almost completely devoid of high tech cutting edge gadgets, etc. What it does have is multiple MacGuffins, more than one lost city, a location so remote/exotic that you rarely read about it, and an enviable cast of rogue rascal characters. Oh, I almost forgot to mention Chinese soldiers and intelligence agents, Indian police, Tibetan Shamans and eastern mysticism, smugglers, ancient texts, and ---oh, yes, very important!--- the 1938 Nazi expedition to Tibet.

    The story begins with a distinguished expert who has vanished into the vast, un-tracked wilderness of the Tibetan Plateau. A colleague sets out to find him: Let the adventure begin. One thing that I enjoyed about the novel was that, every time a new MacGuffin or cultural practice or interesting tidbit was mentioned, I googled it and discover that it was based on, if not fact, then at least on a legitimate historical basis. No spoilers here, but the “truth” that is revealed at the end of the book is a whopper as big as anything you’ll find in Dan Brown or Tom Clancy. The ending actually made me smile in a twisted, sinister sort of way. What a good read.

    For the sake of total transparency: I don’t know why, but the book got fairly terrible reviews on Amazon. That not withstanding, I really liked it.

    The book revived a dormant fascination I have had with the Tibetan Plateau and the legend of Shangri-La/Shambhala. Tibet is 5 times as large as France and the Plateau is truly the ends of the earth. If a lost city were to exist anywhere, that would be a good spot. Take a look at this. That black hole in the middle is the Tibetan Plateau.

    Tibetan Plateau.jpg

    Source: http://www.visualcomplexity.com/vc/project.cfm?id=672
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2017
  7. Blowtorch

    Blowtorch Familiar Face

    Hi everyone, new here and this is exactly the kind of thread I was hoping to find .

    I've got "The Lost City of Z" on my bookshelf and am looking forward to reading it. The OP has prompted me to order both "The Road to Ubar" and "The Lost Oasis". I am a cheapskate, see? so "The Lost City of the Monkey God" is currently above what I'll pay for it, on the used listings, but I am very intrigued.

    I would add to these listings pretty much everything Thor Heyerdahl ever wrote, I have nine of his titles. That fellow was amazing
  8. I have been meaning to look into Z since I saw the film a few weeks ago - though I gather the film greatly romanticises the lead. In reality, it seems, he was much less pleasant a person.
    Blowtorch likes this.
  9. Blowtorch

    Blowtorch Familiar Face

    I didn't know there was a movie!
  10. Oh yes, it was released just a few months ago in the UK (2016 in the US, I think):


    Stars Charlie Hunnan, currently the lead in the latest cinematic version of the King Arthur mythology, and formerly the central protagonist in TV's Sons of Anarchy.

    It's a lot of fun as a film - very old-school 'Boy's own adventure' type stuff, though obviously the final chunk is heavily fictionalised.
    Blowtorch likes this.
  11. Blowtorch

    Blowtorch Familiar Face

    Thanks for that, just added it to my queue
    Edward likes this.
  12. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Practically Family

    Yes! Fatu-hiva is one of my all time favorite books. Talk about a book that takes you to the back-of-beyond and makes it sound romantic and adventuresome. Have re-read it a couple of times and will no doubt read it again. Visiting the Marquesas is on my bucket list, and this is how I will do it:

  13. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Practically Family

    Shameless self promotion: You might also be interested in "The Agents of F.L.A.S.K." thread that I started some time ago in "The Observation Bar". It was intended to encourage the discussion of lost cities, undiscovered creatures, weird phenomenon, secret societies, missing ships & planes, unbroken codes, etc. Although I tried valiantly to keep it alive, it only sputtered along at best. It is still there, somewhere.

    Anyway, welcome to the Lounge! :)
    Blowtorch likes this.
  14. Blowtorch

    Blowtorch Familiar Face

    You've sent me on a search!
  15. Blowtorch

    Blowtorch Familiar Face

    OK so "Lost City of Z" is now at my local budget theater. I will be dragging at least one son along
  16. HanauMan

    HanauMan A-List Customer

    Say, does a childhood reading old Carl Barks Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck adventure stories count! I can't remember how many lost cities they travelled to but they were great stories and stirring adventures!
  17. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Practically Family

    It counts in my book. Anything that references the old adventure sub-genre of Lost Cities helps keep it alive. Right now I'm reading "Night Over the Solomons" by Louis L'Amour, which is a collection of his Indiana-Jonesesque stories written in the late 1930s and 1940s. It's worth it just for the hard boiled, tough guy dialogue He delivers. Anyway, in the 3rd story, "Pirates with Wings", our hero, Turk Madden, discovers a lost city in the uncharted areas of Amazonia. A cameo reference to Percy Fawcett even comes up. With the earth now almost completely explored, such stories are no doubt becoming harder and harder to credibly write.
    HanauMan likes this.
  18. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

    For what it's worth, there were a number of old movies, mostly serials, based on the theme of a lost city. There was "The Lost City" (1935), "The Lost Jungle" (1934), and finally, "The Lost City of the Jungle" (1946). The plot of the last one, a serial, involved a defense against the atomic bomb. Very topical.
  19. HanauMan

    HanauMan A-List Customer

    In my early teens I used to borrow a book called Great Adventures with National Geographic out of my local library. I must have read it a dozen times over! It was printed in the early 1960s (I read it in the late 1970s). Imagine my delight when I came across a copy of the book in a thrift store some thirty years later. It is still a good read, especially the likes of Hiram Bingham discovering Machu Picchu. Stirring deeds!
  20. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec Practically Family

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