February 18, 2009 at 05:00 AM EST

Sixteenth-century Spaniards called it El Dorado. Percy Fawcett, a former British army colonel who became one of the ? most renowned explorers of the early 20th century, dubbed it Z. ?The idea of an ancient civilization hidden in the Amazon has lured generations ?of outsiders into the unforgiving jungles of South America — home to piranhas, deadly snakes, disease-carrying insects, and often hostile natives. Fawcett, a robust self-made man with an almost unnatural athleticism and resistance ?to disease, disappeared on an expedition in 1925. New Yorker writer David Grann ?fares better in The Lost City of Z, bringing back a fascinating yarn that touches on science, history, and some truly obsessive personalities. A?

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