I AM GRATEFUL to so many people who contributed to this project. Fawcett’s granddaughter Rolette de Montet-Guerin and his great-granddaughter Isabelle generously allowed me access to Fawcett’s diaries, letters, and photographs. Percy Fawcett’s ninety-five-year-old nephew, Dr. Peter Fortescue, gave me a copy of his unpublished memoir; he vividly recalled when he was a boy and saw Percy and Jack Fawcett at a farewell dinner before they journeyed to the Amazon. Two of Henry Costin’s children, Michael and Mary, shared reminiscences of their father and let me read his private letters. Ann Macdonald, Raleigh Rimell’s cousin once removed, provided me with his last letters home. Robert Temple, who is Edward Douglas Fawcett’s literary executor, and Robert’s wife, Olivia, shed light on the marvelous life of Percy Fawcett’s older brother. Commander George Miller Dyott’s son Mark and Dr. Alexander Hamilton Rice’s nephew John D. Farrington each furnished crucial details about their relatives. James Lynch told me about his own harrowing journey.

I am also indebted to a number of research institutions and their incredible staffs. Particularly, I want to thank Sarah Strong, Julie Carrington, Jamie Owen, and everyone else at the Royal Geographical Society; Maurice Paul Evans at the Royal Artillery Museum; Peter Lewis at the American Geographical Society; Vera Faillace at the National Library of Brazil; Sheila Mackenzie at the National Library of Scotland; Norwood Kerr and Mary Jo Scott at the Alabama Department of Archives and History; and Elizabeth Dunn at the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library at Duke University.

I could never have made it out of the jungle without my wonderful and good-humored guide, Paolo Pinage. I am also grateful to the Bakair?, Kalapalo, and Kuikuro Indians for welcoming me into their settlements and talking to me not only about Fawcett but their own rich cultures and history as well.

To learn about Amazonian archaeology and geography, I drew on the wisdom of several scholars-Ellen Basso, William Denevan, Clark Erick-son, Susanna Hecht, Eduardo Neves, Anna Roosevelt, and Neil White-head, among them-though they should not be held accountable for my words. I would like to pay special tribute to James Petersen, who was murdered in the Amazon not long after we spoke, depriving the world of one of its finest archaeologists and most generous souls. And, needless to say, this book would have had a much different ending had it not been for the archaeologist Michael Heckenberger, a brilliant and fearless scholar who has done so much to illuminate the ancient civilizations of the Amazon.

William Lowther, Misha Williams, and Hermes Leal have all done prodigious research on Fawcett and patiently answered my questions.

In the United States, several terrific young journalists assisted me at various stages as researchers, including Walter Alarkon, David Gura, and Todd Neale. In Brazil, Mariana Ferreira, Lena Ferreira, and Juliana Lottmann helped me to track down a host of documents, while in England Gita Daneshjoo volunteered to retrieve an important paper. Nana Asfour, Luigi Sofio, and Marcos Steuernagel contributed first-rate translations; Ann Goldstein deciphered an ancient Italian script. Andy Young was an amazing help both with fact-checking and with Portuguese translations. Nandi Rodrigo was an industrious fact-checker and made wonderful editorial suggestions.

I can never thank enough Susan Lee, a remarkable young journalist who has worked on this project as a reporter, researcher, and fact-checker for months on end. She embodies all the best qualities of the profession- passion, intelligence, and tenacity.

Many friends came to my aid, lending their editorial insights while pushing me across the finish line. I especially want to thank Burkhard Bil-ger, Jonathan Chait, Warren Cohen, Jonathan Cohn, Amy Davidson, Jeffrey Frank, Lawrence Friedman, Tad Friend, David Greenberg, Raffi Khatchadourian, Larissa MacFarquhar, Katherine Marsh, Stephen Metcalf, Ian Parker, Nick Paumgarten, Alex Ross, Margaret Talbot, and Jason Zengerle.

It is also my good fortune to be surrounded by such talented editors at The New Yorker. Daniel Zalewski is one of the smartest and most gifted editors in the business, and painstakingly edited the piece that appeared in the magazine and then made invaluable contributions to the book. Dorothy Wickenden, who took the manuscript even on her vacation, provided her usual scrupulous edits and flourishes, improving the text immeasurably. Elizabeth Pearson-Griffiths is one of those editors who quietly make each writer they work with better, and every page benefited from her infallible eye and her ear for language. And I can never fully express my gratitude to David Remnick, who agreed to send me into the jungle in pursuit of Z and who, when the project began to grow and envelop my life, did everything he could to ensure that I finished it. This book would not have happened without him.

Kathy Robbins and David Halpern at the Robbins Office and Matthew Snyder at CAA are more than great agents; they are sage advisors, fierce allies, and, most of all, friends. I also want to thank everyone else at the Robbins Office, especially Kate Rizzo.

One of the best things in writing this book has been the opportunity to work with the extraordinary team at Doubleday. William Thomas has been what every book author dreams of finding: an incisive and meticulous editor as well as indefatigable champion, who has given everything to this project. Stephen Rubin, who ushered this book from its inception to its publication, has done so with his indomitable spirit and wisdom. Indeed, the entire team at Doubleday-including Bette Alexander, Maria Carella, Melissa Danaczko, Todd Doughty, Patricia Flynn, John Fontana, Catherine Pollock, Ingrid Sterner, and Kathy Trager-has been a marvel.

In John and Nina Darnton, I have not only perfect in-laws but also first-rate editors. My sister, Alison, along with her family, and my brother, Edward, have been a constant source of encouragement. So has my mother, Phyllis, who has been an amazing writing tutor over the years. My father, Victor, not only has supported me in every way but continues to show me the wonders of an adventurous life.

I hope that one day my son, Zachary, and my daughter, Ella, who was born after my trip, will read this book and think that perhaps their father wasn’t such an old bore after all. Finally, I want to thank my wife, Kyra, who has given to this book more than words can describe, and is, and will always be, everything to me. Together, she, Zachary, and Ella have provided the most rewarding and unexpected journey of all.


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