Fri September 4, 2009
David Grann, a Writer at The New Yorker, Describes His Fascinating New Book --- and His More Recent, and Shockingly Tragic, Article in That Magazine
By Rich Fisher
Tulsa, Oklahoma – On our program today, we chat by phone with David Grann, a Staff Writer at The New Yorker. His new book, "The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon," is an incredible adventure story --- a flat-out great read, with a real-life Victorian-era explorer named Percy Harrison Fawcett at its core. But this book also dips deeply into such areas as history, science, detective-work, cultural anthropology, literature, celebrity, geography, and personal psychology. As one critic, writing in a starred review in Publishers Weekly, has noted of this title: "In 1925, renowned British explorer Col. Percy Harrison Fawcett embarked on a much-publicized search to find the city of Z, site of an ancient Amazonian civilization that may or may not have existed. Fawcett, along with his grown son Jack, never returned, but that didn't stop countless others, including actors, college professors, and well-funded explorers from venturing into the jungle to find Fawcett or the city. Among the wannabe explorers is Grann, a staff writer for The New Yorker, who has bad eyes and a worse sense of direction. He became interested in Fawcett while researching another story, eventually venturing into the Amazon to satisfy his all-consuming curiosity about the explorer and his fatal mission. Largely about Fawcett, the book examines the stranglehold of passion as Grann's vigorous research mirrors Fawcett's obsession with uncovering the mysteries of the jungle. By interweaving the great story of Fawcett with his own investigative escapades in South America and Britain, Grann provides an in-depth, captivating character study that has the relentless energy of a classic adventure tale." We also speak with Mr. Grann about his stunning and saddening article appearing in this week's issue of The New Yorker, "Trial By Fire," which describes what might well be the first-ever completely documented case of an innocent man being executed in the United States.