The Lost City of the Monkey God

The Lost City of the Monkey God

A True Story

Large Print - 2017
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Since the days of Cortés, rumors have circulated about a lost city of immense wealth hidden somewhere in the Honduran interior, called the White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God. In 1940, journalist Theodore Morde returned from the rainforest with hundreds of artifacts and an electrifying story of having found the Lost City -- but then committed suicide without revealing its location. In 2012, Preston joined a team of scientists using classified technology that could map the terrain under the densest rainforest canopy. They found evidence of not just an undiscovered city but an enigmatic, lost civilization -- and returned carrying a horrifying, sometimes lethal -- and incurable -- disease.
Publisher: New York : Grand Central Publishing Large Print, 2017
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781455569410
1455569410
Branch Call Number: 972.85 Pr
Description: 440 pages (large print), 16 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations, maps ; 24 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

A true story that reads like Indiana Jones, from a best-selling novelist, also known for his scientific zeal. The Lost City is in Honduras, untouched for 500 years.


From the critics


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SuzeParker
Jun 30, 2018

For centuries, Hondurans passed down the story of a rich, ancient settlement, called the "White City of the Monkey God," lost to time and the jungle. The city was rumored to hide a treasure trove of gold and artifacts.

For explorers, treasure hunters and scientists, rumors of the White City were irresistible. Over time, many ventured into the dense jungle in search of the city. Some never came back, and no one who did come back could prove with certainty that they had located the site.

In 2012, using a plane equipped with LIDAR (a radar that uses laser beams), documentary filmmaker Steve Elkins scanned sections of jungle in eastern Honduras, finding three possible locations for the White City. Three years later, he organized an expedition to search the area deemed the city's most likely location. The team included this book's writer, Douglas Preston.

Preston enumerates the substantial challenges and hardships of searching for the city. Deadly spiders and snakes were only two of the dangers. Team members also were at risk for encountering jaguars or being injured as they trekked up and down steep hills in the dense jungle. Virtually incessant rain left the expedition members constantly drenched, and infestations of biting sandflies were a daily annoyance, making camp conditions nearly intolerable. Even though Preston tells readers about these dreadful circumstances, I couldn't "feel" them. I only recognized that the reality must have been far worse than how it seemed just reading words on a page.

Despite the difficulties, expedition members did make it to the area presumed to be the White City, where they found numerous pre-Columbian treasures and archaeological remains. In the book, Preston details his second trip to the site, as well as the potentially devastating jungle disease he and some other members of the expedition team contracted.

For history, archaeology and mystery buffs (I'm all three), this is an excellent depiction of what a group of adventurers went through to prove the existence of a hidden, centuries-old city.

t
talk2terih
Jun 03, 2018

I've always been fascinated by archaeological discoveries and remember reading about this one in the news. I Don't think we fully appreciate the ordeal - both foreseen and unforeseen - that are involved in the systematic and scholarly discovery of a hitherto unknown site. This book gives us an insider's look at the thrills and challenges of this type of expedition.
I believe that if you read this book with an open mind and Don't expect a screenplay to an Indiana Jones movie in terms of nonstop action and excitement, you will appreciate this book for the window into a real-life archaeological project that it is. Archaeology is costly, logistically nightmarish, and proper excavation takes lengthy study, prep, and planning before anything is moved or disturbed, or even uncovered, as you see here.
I think the author did a fine job of being the informed observer. He provided enough background information to help us understand the history of Honduras as well as the social and political challenges. He beautifully conveys the absolute wonder of being the first humans in 500 years to penetrate this nearly pristine rainforest, and he helps us understand that this beauty comes at a price, including deadly disease and constant fear of snake bite.
I enjoyed the book and would have liked it to be longer.

c
coloradoosubuckeye
May 26, 2018

This was a very interesting "True Story" to read, and anyone that says it was boring or not that great, doesn't understand this was a True Story and not a work of fiction or imagination. I love the archaeology field and stories of Lost Cities or Civilizations, but this one threw me for a loop at the end, to think they would all be struck with a parasite infection due to sand flies, the smallest of "seemed dangers" in the tropical jungle. This should throw a "caution to the wind" to anyone that thinks archaeology is a simple and safe career, as it's riddled with all kinds of dangers that people don't think actually occur. I have had a desire to explore unknown ruins, but this book throws caution to the wind, to be careful, as you have to "think of almost everything" that could go wrong, even down to the simplest of things "like bug bites". This author does a very good job of telling the story, and the Large Print version is the best, as it also includes pictures of the people involved and the lands they explored.

This was a GREAT BOOK to read, and it had me hooked with roller coaster drama, and I was able to finish it in 2 days.

m
Mudita
Mar 24, 2018

If you enjoyed the “Lost City of Z”, not the movie, you’ll enjoy this one.

DPLjennyp Feb 06, 2018

A very entertaining true-life archaeological adventure story with a twist. It's neither the snakes nor the jaguars that get our crew...

k
kennethbhill
Dec 29, 2017

A good story of archeology, anthropology, parisitiology, epidemiology, and some climatology that kept me on edge. The story provides a nice overview of ancient New World cultures that I was not taught in school.

b
BOOKMONKEY109
Nov 24, 2017

Originally, I thought this was written by his brother, Richard. I always enjoy travel/adventure stories and glad I read this one. I can recall the story vaguely but I still maintain some vivid images based on his descriptions.

JCLMartyJ Oct 30, 2017

A fascinating true tale! If you like reading about mystery, archaeology, meso-american history, or epidemiology, you'll love this book / audiobook. The author, Preston, actually participated in the dangerous expeditions into the jungle to get the material for this story, and does such an exceptional job of detailing his experiences that readers feel that they were there, as well!

w
wag9866
Aug 10, 2017

Although I really like the author and his work, unfortunately, this story was tedious and dare I say, boring to me.

j
JLMason
Jul 23, 2017

This is an entertaining read by a National Geographic writer about finding a lost civilization of legend in a remote, unexplored, rugged rain forest of Honduras. The book is roughly divided in three sections: a description of the history of the legend and its seekers; the story of the author’s modern-day expeditions to one site; and the expedition’s unexpected and gruesome aftermath. The threat from drug cartels operating nearby was nothing compared to the hazards from Fer-de-Lance snakes and the Leishmaniasis-causing parasites. There are many photos, but the video footage taken of the exploration will provide a better idea of the jungle conditions and the artifacts found. I'm keeping an eye out for the documentary.

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j
jimg2000
Apr 11, 2017

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 the Portal del Infierno, or “Gates of Hell,” because it was so forbidding.
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“I call it the ‘lost city virus,’” he told me later. “I became an addict. I was obsessed with the idea of trying to prove whether the lost city really existed.”
===
An avid hiker, he roamed the nearby Shawnee National Forest with friends who called him Over-the-Next-Ridge Elkins because he was always urging them on “to see what was over the next ridge.”
===
“That was the moment I became hooked on ancient history,” he told me. He spent many hours sitting in the shelter, looking out over the Mississippi River Valley and imagining what it would have been like to be born in the cave, grow up, raise children, get old, and die there—in the America of five thousand years ago.

j
jimg2000
Apr 11, 2017

“Hey! Some weird stones over here!”
We returned to look, and all mayhem broke out.
===
… the lidar machine contains within it a sealed instrument that looks like a coffee can. It contains a highly classified military device called an inertial measurement unit, or IMU. This is the same technology used in cruise missiles, allowing the missile to know where it is in space at all times as it heads toward its target.
===
He collected all the guns, money, and drugs. He was in terrible pain, so he snorted some lines and packed cocaine powder into the bullet wound, which made him feel better.
===
If you’re going to be a gambler at all with a film project, I thought this was the one to put my money on. This was my number 17 on the roulette wheel.”
===
“The people of Honduras don’t have a clear cultural identity. We have to start learning more about our past in order to create a brighter future.”

j
jimg2000
Apr 11, 2017

“There’s something in the valley!” We were startled by this sudden behavioral change, the sober-minded skeptic transformed into a raving Christopher Lloyd.
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… we were forced up on the embankment, where we followed the Honduran soldiers as they macheted a path for us, expertly flicking their machetes left and right, the blades going ping, snick, tang, snap—each species of plant making a different sound as it was cut.
===
“A city,” he explained, “is a complex social organization, multifunctional; it has a socially stratified population with clear divisions of space, intimately connected to the hinterlands. Cities have special functions, including ceremonial, and are associated with intensive agriculture. And they usually involve major, monumental reconstruction of the environment.”
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A site is not really “found” until it is ground-truthed.

j
jimg2000
Apr 11, 2017

“You’re crazy,” I said. “You’re going up there in the pitch dark, with all those snakes, in the rain, wading in mud up to your balls, climbing that hill with a ton of gear on your back in a suitcase? You’re going to get yourself killed.” He grunted and hiked off into the dark, his headlamp bobbing around before winking out entirely. As I hunkered down in my tent, listening to the rain, I was damned glad I was just a writer.
===

“There aren’t any insects.” It was true. The fearful clouds of bloodsucking insects we had been warned about were nowhere to be seen.
===
Within minutes, night dropped like the shutting of a door—absolute blackness fell upon us. The sounds of the day morphed into something deeper and mysterious, with trills and scratchings and boomings and calls like the cries of the damned. Now the insects began to make their appearance, starting with the mosquitoes.

j
jimg2000
Apr 11, 2017

A legend, certainly, but legends are frequently based on the truth, and this one, so persistent and long-lasting, is no exception.
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In the mythology of some indigenous tribes in Honduras, monkeys were the first people, banished into the forest when humans arrived.
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In the acidic rainforest soils, no organic remains survive—not even the bones of the dead.
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Each main temple at Copán had been built over and around the previous one, creating a series of buildings nested together like Russian matryoshka dolls.
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It was no longer a terra incognita. T1 had finally joined the rest of the world in having been discovered, explored, mapped, measured, trod upon, and photographed—a forgotten place no more.
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I was covered with ugly red welts and patches, hundreds of them—but where were the actual bugs?

j
jimg2000
Apr 11, 2017

People need history in order to know themselves, to build a sense of identity and pride, continuity, community, and hope for the future. That is why the legend of the White City runs so deep in the Honduran national psyche: It’s a direct connection to a pre-Columbian past that was rich, complex, and worthy of remembrance.
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I imagined being trapped for hours with a terrifying Nurse Ratched hovering about.
===
I asked Nash if I was, at fifty-eight, in the “old” category, and he thought that was funny. “Oh, ho!” he cried. “So you’re still telling yourself you’re middle-aged? Yes, we all go through that period of denial.”
===
“Does the area have a whitish, pearlescent appearance, surrounded by red?” “Yes.” “Does it itch?” “No.” “Does it hurt or feel sore at all?” “No.” “No discomfort?” “None at all.” “Ah, well. I am afraid those are the classic signs of leishmaniasis.”

j
jimg2000
Apr 11, 2017

This genetic resistance, by the way, should not be confused with acquired immunity. Acquired immunity is when a body gets rid of a pathogen and afterward maintains a state of high alert for that same microbe. It’s why people don’t normally get the same illness twice. Genetic resistance is something deeper and more mysterious. It is not acquired through exposure—you are born with it.
===
In his groundbreaking book Guns, Germs, and Steel, biologist Jared Diamond poses the question: Why did Old World diseases devastate the New World and not the other way around? Why did disease move in only one direction?* The answer lies in how the lives of Old World and New World people diverged after that cross-continental migration more than fifteen thousand years ago. Farming, which allowed people to settle into towns and villages, was independently invented in both the Old World and the New. The key difference was in animal husbandry.

j
jimg2000
Apr 11, 2017

Why? Her answer was immediate: “Climate change.” As the United States becomes warmer, she said, the ranges of the sand fly and the wood rat are both creeping northward, the leish parasite tagging along.
===

When people in the Near East first domesticated cattle from a type of wild ox called an aurochs, a mutation in the cowpox virus allowed it to jump into humans—and smallpox was born. Rinderpest in cattle migrated to people and became measles. Tuberculosis probably originated in cattle, influenza in birds and pigs, whooping cough in pigs or dogs, and malaria in chickens and ducks. The same process goes on today: Ebola probably jumped to humans from bats, while HIV crashed into our species from monkeys and chimpanzees.

j
jimg2000
Apr 11, 2017

Global warming has opened the southern door of the United States not just to leish but to many other diseases. The big ones now entering our country include Zika, West Nile virus, chikungunya, and dengue fever. Even diseases like cholera, Ebola, Lyme, babesiosis, and bubonic plague will potentially infect more people as global warming accelerates.
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Modern travel has given infectious disease new ways to spread. Bubonic plague in the fourteenth century traveled from Central Asia to the Levant and Europe by horse, camel, and boat; the Zika virus in the twenty-first century jumped from Yap Island in Micronesia to French Polynesia, Brazil, the Caribbean, and Central America by 2015, all by plane. In the summer of 2016, Zika arrived in Miami, again on an airplane. The 2009 outbreak of deadly H1N1 swine flu in Mexico hitched rides on planes to strike as far away as Japan, New Zealand, Egypt, Canada, and Iceland.

j
jimg2000
Apr 11, 2017

Sometimes, a society can see its end approaching from afar and still not be able to adapt, like the Maya; at other times, the curtain drops without warning and the show is over. No civilization has survived forever. All move toward dissolution, one after the other, like waves of the sea falling upon the shore. None, including ours, is exempt from the universal fate.
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Archaeology contains many cautionary tales for us to ponder in the twenty-first century, not just about disease but also about human success and failure. It teaches us lessons in environmental degradation, income inequality, war, violence, class division, exploitation, social upheaval, and religious fanaticism. But archaeology also teaches us how cultures have thrived and endured, overcoming the challenges of the environment and the darker side of human nature.

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j
jimg2000
Apr 11, 2017

Exclusive: Lost City Discovered in the Honduran Rain Forest
In search for legendary “City of the Monkey God,” explorers find the untouched ruins of a vanished culture. By Douglas Preston Photographs by Dave Yoder
PUBLISHED March 2, 2015

An expedition to Honduras has emerged from the jungle with dramatic news of the discovery of a mysterious culture’s lost city, never before explored. The team was led to the remote, uninhabited region by long-standing rumors that it was the site of a storied “White City,” also referred to in legend as the “City of the Monkey God.”

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/03/150302-honduras-lost-city-monkey-god-maya-ancient-archaeology/

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