Author: Douglas Preston
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Summary: This was a fun adventure story, but a little light on the science and archeology.
A mysterious civilization as wealthy as the Maya has long been rumored to be hidden in the mountainous Mosquitia region of Honduras. However, it was only with the advent of LIDAR, a sonar-like technology for mapping the jungle floor, that any progress was made in the search. The two sprawling cities revealed by this mapping were incredible discoveries that the author was able to explore on foot, enduring encounters with “torrential rains, quickmud, disease-carrying insects, jaguars, and deadly snakes” (source). This is the story of that expedition.
The author of this book, Douglas Preston, is also the author of a best-selling series of thrillers and it shows! This was a fast-paced, engaging read. Preston did a masterful job foreshadowing dangers to come and leaving the reader at cliffhanger pauses. He also keep me reading quickly with short chapters and snappy writing. I enjoyed the arc of the story as well. The context provided by previous searches for the city made the modern expedition even more fascinating. The interpretation of the finding afterwards was equally enjoyable to read.
My one complaint about this book is that the science and archeology that were included were not explained in any depth. The author did share the interpretation of the artifacts that were found and I think he did so in an impressively nuanced way. Unfortunately, he never explained how the archeologists reached any of their conclusion or gave any of the evidence on either side when different researchers disagreed. Likewise, the biology presented was dumbed down to the point where it drove me a little crazy as someone who works in biology. I think how much you’re likely to enjoy this book largely depends on what you’re expecting. If you just want an awesome, real-life adventure, I think this would be the perfect read. If you’re looking to learn about archeology, I’d probably look elsewhere.