Thursday, August 4, 2016
Just finished an excellent book about exploration of the Amazon, by David Grann: "The Lost City of Z". Its heart is the unsolved mystery of the disappearance of legendary explorer Percy Fawcett in a doomed obsessive effort to find a vanished ancient civilization; but there's much more, of the past and the present, illuminated by the telling of the tale. (For one thing, you will never want to encounter the horrors the jungle inflicted on the whites who tried to conquer it.) You can, of course, get it on Amazon; I happened to come across it at my local library and checked it out on a whim, and am happy I did. The section of illustrations is mostly old B&W photos, so I'd suggest going for a large-format print version however you get it. Now that it's finished and back to the library I've started "The Circus Fire: A True Story of an American Tragedy" by Stewart O'Nan. It's a superbly written retelling of the catastrophic 1944 fire that destroyed the Ringling Bros. B&B big top in Hartford, Connecticut in which more than 100 people died, many of them women and children. I'm only a chapter into it and already hooked. Again, Amazon has it, in Kindle as well as paper. I bought a used hardcover for the print size and the photographs; Kindle is for me a crappy platform for illustrations. O'Nan's book was published in 2001; Amazon suggests (as it always does) another book on the story published in 2014 by one Michael Skidgell, but the reviews of that one aren't encouraging. There are books about the Cocoanut Grove fire, the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, lots of other dramatic fires. But I'll probably veer off into another genre entirely after I finish O'Nan.