The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann
Interesting book, partly historical, partly about the author's trip to the Amazon--all in search of the lost city of Z (or El Dorado or at least evidence that a well-developed civilization which once existed in the Amazon). The central focus of the book is Percy Fawcett, a British explorer who, after many expeditions into the Amazon where he proved his ability to survive in the jungle and to deal gently and effectively with Indians he met, put together an expedition in the 1920ies consisting of only himself, his 21-year old son and his son's friend. They vanished and were not heard of again--not all that unusual for Amazon expeditions, but everyone who knew anything about Fawcett didn't expect that. Many lives were lost in the ensuing years in a search for the Fawcett party. An artifact or two would show up but stories about their graves and which Indians killed them usually proved mistaken. The author decided to go too and his well-equipped contemporary trip is chronicled alongside that of Fawcett and other Amazon explorers like American Dr. Alexander Hamilton Rice. Fawcett's entire history as explorer is woven in as well.
I read with fascination Charles C Mann's 1491 about civilization in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus and this book plays right into those ideas, though it's more an adventure tale than an idea book. A quick read and worth the time.