Book Review: The Lost City of the Monkey God
Whether you're studying archaeology at UC-Berkeley or simply a fan of Indiana Jones, Douglas Preston's latest novel, The Lost City of the Monkey God, will have true and legitimate appeal. On the Best Seller lists of both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, I have to admit that I grabbed a copy of this book based solely on its author, Douglas Preston. I've read a lot of Preston's creations over the years and have never been disappointed. That said, I gravitate towards hard science fiction and adventure stories...so this book title quickly appealed to me. Further, I rarely ever read the back (of the book), or its inside cover, as I don't want any spoilers. So, when I started reading The Lost City of the Monkey God, which I couldn't put down after the very first sentence by the way, I thought I was reading an incredible jungle adventure...but one of fiction. Well, about 20% of the way through the book I suddenly realized...wait a minute...this is not fiction but a true account! Of course, this just brought it all home and made it so much more intriguing. Indeed, what goes down in this amazing offering from Preston seems beyond what Hollywood could script. Alas, some of the wildest stories are often true...
So what's this incredibly intriguing book all about? It all ties into a Central American legend about a mystical, lost city that, according to the indigenous peoples of Honduras, simply disappeared about 500 years ago. Much like the lost city of Atlantis, this particular "lost city" was rumored to be a once bustling place set deep in the Honduran rain forest...one of the most dangerous and inhospitable environments on earth. From fer de lance snakes that are not only highly venomous but also extremely aggressive, to quicksand, swarming ants, jaguars, lethal plants, steep mountains, rushing rivers and ridiculous swarms of mosquitoes, it's not difficult to imagine how a sprawling city could get swallowed up by this kind of deep jungle. Known to locals as "Ciudad Blanca" or "The White City," and to others as the book's namesake, an untold number of expeditions have gone in search of this mystical place...and have all come up empty. Many have died in search, others have gone crazy. Yet 2017 was the year it all came to a head with a remarkable blend of technology making it happen.
Via satellite imagery, which helped narrow down potential locations, and later, the use of Lidar, a foilage and ground-penetrating mapping technology that is done through aerial survery, certain hot spots were identified by a remarkable crew of researchers, scientists and, yes, Douglas Preston. Well, the story goes on...and I'm not one to be a spoiler. The one thing I can guarantee is that you will be riveted from the start. To this point...here's sentence number 1-3. See if it gets you like it got me:
Chapter 1: The Gates of Hell
"Deep in Honduras, in a region called La Mosquitia, lie some of the last unexplored places on earth. Mosquitia is a vast, lawless area covering about thirty-two thousand square miles, a land of rainforests, swamps, lagoons, rivers and mountains. Early maps labeled it Portal del Inferno, or "Gates of Hell," because it was so forbidding. The area is one of the most dangerous in the world..." (Book Excerpt Courtesy: Douglas Preston, Grand Central Publishing).
Here now is a video from Tedx Talks featuring Steve Elkins, the man behind the entire mission to find the Lost City. This is a really great video to watch:
Here now is a video from YouTube Channel's LinuxTech Show, which shows author Douglas Preston being interviewed about his role in the finding of the lost city and the writing of his subsequent bestselling book. Also explored here is the unique high technology used to initially find the "hot spot" sites worth further exploration: