Real talk: I would watch Charlie Hunnam in anything. Seriously, if the former Sons of Anarchy star sat in an empty room playing solitaire, I would still be glued to the screen. Especially if he’s shirtless. (Please, can he be shirtless?) So when I heard he was starring in The Lost City of Z, an adaptation of David Grann’s bestselling historical nonfiction tale, I knew I had to see it.
Luckily, this movie looks awesome. Lush, adventurous, and an honest examination of what it means to have a lifelong, all-consuming obsession.
Hunnam stars as Percy Fawcett, a 1920s British explorer who spends a large part of his career searching for the “Lost City of Z,” an ancient, hidden civilization that he believes is buried deep in the Amazon. With only a select few on his side (including his wife, played by Sienna Miller), Percy makes several dangerous voyages to the Amazon, searching for his lost city. The obsession consumes him, eventually leading to his mysterious disappearance in 1925.
When Grann’s nonfiction account was published in 2009 it became an almost instant classic. So I have high hopes for the movie, which has all the makings of a truly epic historical (and did I mention a possibly shirtless Charlie Hunnam??). The film opens in the U.S. on April 14 – and I will definitely be first in line.
In the meantime, here are four The Lost City of Z -style books that are sure to appeal to the adventurer in all of us:
The Lost City of the Monkey God, Douglas Preston (Grand Central Publishing, January 3, 2017)
Just like Fawcett’s lost city, for thousands of years there was a long-rumored lost civilization in the jungle of Honduras. In 2012, armed with laser-imaging technology, author Preston and a team of explorers went hunting for “The White City,” or “The Lost City of the Monkey God.” And, after a harrowing journey, they found it. In the same way author Grann revisited Fawcett’s path, Preston travels deep into the jungle, taking on the adventure himself. But finding “The White City” is only half the story, and from there the explorers must deal with government interference, the threat of looters, the archaeology community’s negative response, and the supposed “curse,” or illness, that follows them home. If you’re drawn to the adventure and thrilling conclusions found in The Lost City of Z, then Preston’s book is made for you.
Dragon Teeth, Michael Crichton (Harper Books, May 23, 2017)
Crichton is known for making history come alive – literally, in the case of his most famous work, Jurassic Park. In Dragon Teeth, he’s returning to the world of dinosaurs, this time diving deep into the heart of the Bone Wars, or the historical rivalry between two paleontologists in the late 1800s. In 1876, Yale student William Johnson decides to spend the summer in the west, hunting for dinosaur bones in order to win a bet. His trip has him bouncing between famous historical rivals Othniel Charles Marsh and his fellow paleontologist, Edwin Drinker Cope. Add in even more famous historical figures, the lawlessness of the west, and the thrill of discovering these large, mysterious bones, and you’ve got another classic Crichton tale. Pre-order this one ASAP!
The Book of Joan, Lidia Yuknavitch (Harper Books, April 18, 2017)
History teaches us about both our present and future, which is a lesson that Fawcett was clearly tapping into when he was searching for The Lost City of Z. It’s also a lesson that we can learn from The Book of Joan, a loose retelling of the Joan of Arc story, this time set in a futuristic world. With humanity on the brink of extinction and the earth unlivable after multiple world wars, the remaining humans are regulated to a hovering platform called CIEL. Cult leader Jean de Men has turned CIEL into an even more brutal wasteland, ruling with an iron fist. But the people have found inspiration in Joan, a warrior-turned-martyr who is able to spiritually communicate with the earth. Her legacy will have a lasting affect that will change the course of humanity forever. Though this is a futuristic tale, the echoes of history are hard to miss in Yuknavitch’s highly-anticipated new novel.
Three Stones Make a Wall: The Story of Archaeology, Eric H. Cline (Princeton University Press, March 7, 2017)
Eric Cline is a seasoned archaeologist, and he makes history come alive in this nonfiction look at some of the greatest archaeological discoveries ever made. From Pompeii to Troy, Cline gives an insider look at these famous digs, blending history and science in a way that’s guaranteed to keep your attention from the first page. Not only does he take you through the history of the discovery itself, but he also shows you exactly how the dig was managed in the first place. If you’ve ever wondered how archaeologists function – from where to dig, how to do it, or what comes next – then you’ll want to pick up a copy of Three Stones Make a Wall as soon as you possibly can.