DESPITE FAWCETT’S once-enormous fame, many details of his life, like those of his death, have been shrouded in mystery. Until recently, Fawcett’s family kept the bulk of his papers private. Moreover, the contents of many of the diaries and correspondence of his colleagues and companions, such as Raleigh Rimell, have never been published.
In trying to excavate Fawcett’s life, I have drawn extensively on these materials. They include Fawcett’s diaries and logbooks; the correspondence of his wife and children, as well as those of his closest exploring companions and his most bitter rivals; the journals of members of his military unit during World War I; and Rimell’s final letters from the 1925 expedition, which had been passed down to a cousin once removed. Fawcett himself was a compulsive writer who left behind an enormous amount of firsthand information in scientific and esoteric journals, and his son Brian, who edited
I also benefited from the tremendous research of other authors, particularly in reconstructing historical periods. I would have been lost, for instance, without John Hemming’s three-volume history on the Brazilian Indians or his book
Anything that appears in the text between quotation marks, including conversation in the jungle from vanished explorers, comes directly from a diary, a letter, or some other written document and is cited in the notes. In a few places, I found minor discrepancies in the quotations between published versions of letters, which had been edited, and their original; in these cases, I reverted to the original. In an effort to keep the notes as concise as possible, I do not include citations for well-established or uncontroversial facts, or when it is clear that a person is speaking directly to me.