The Lost City of the Monkey God

The Lost City of the Monkey GodThe Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston
Published by Grand Central Publishing on January 3rd 2017
Pages: 304
Format: hardback
Genres: Natural History, Nonfiction, People's history
See it @ Goodreads
three-half-stars


Synopsis


A five-hundred-year-old legend. An ancient curse. A stunning medical mystery. And a pioneering journey into the unknown heart of the world's densest jungle.
Since the days of conquistador Hernán Cortés, rumors have circulated about a lost city of immense wealth hidden somewhere in the Honduran interior, called the White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God. Indigenous tribes speak of ancestors who fled there to escape the Spanish invaders, and they warn that anyone who enters this sacred city will fall ill and die. In 1940, swashbuckling journalist Theodore Morde returned from the rainforest with hundreds of artifacts and an electrifying story of having found the Lost City of the Monkey God-but then committed suicide without revealing its location.
Three quarters of a century later, bestselling author Doug Preston joined a team of scientists on a groundbreaking new quest. In 2012 he climbed aboard a rickety, single-engine plane carrying the machine that would change everything: lidar, a highly advanced, classified technology that could map the terrain under the densest rainforest canopy. In an unexplored valley ringed by steep mountains, that flight revealed the unmistakable image of a sprawling metropolis, tantalizing evidence of not just an undiscovered city but an enigmatic, lost civilization.
Venturing into this raw, treacherous, but breathtakingly beautiful wilderness to confirm the discovery, Preston and the team battled torrential rains, quickmud, disease-carrying insects, jaguars, and deadly snakes. But it wasn't until they returned that tragedy struck: Preston and others found they had contracted in the ruins a horrifying, sometimes lethal-and incurable-disease.
Suspenseful and shocking, filled with colorful history, hair-raising adventure, and dramatic twists of fortune, The Lost City of the Monkey God is the absolutely true, eyewitness account of one of the great discoveries of the twenty-first century.

My thoughts on this book

Who knew that there were so many civilizations in the southern hemisphere, The Lost City of the Monkey God takes us deep into the Mosquitia region of the Gracias a Dios Department in eastern Honduras, where the legendary “White City” supposedly existed.

The first third of the book tells how documentary filmmakers Steve Elkins and Bill Benenson have spent 20+ years searching for the “White City”. using a million-dollar lidar scanner, they were able to fly over the valley, probing the jungle canopy with laser light. Lidar is able to map the ground even through dense rain forest, delineating any archaeological features that might be present. What they found was a huge city. Was it the legendary “White City”? Who knows.

What ensues is the physical search of the area. If you have read any books on entering tropical rain forests you know they are fraught with dangers, while I appreciate the amount of time, effort and money invested in this project I am not wholly convinced that it is the riveting tale we are lead to believe we are getting. It is more a long version of the National Geographic article. From here Preston, takes off on a tangent about how those in the archaeology of Central America community attacked their expedition because Elkins billed it as finding the LOST “White City” which they (archaeologist) believe is a myth.

The last part of the book is about Leishmaniasis, the disease that Preston and many of his fellow crew members caught. It was interesting to learn what treatment they went through to contain the disease. Preston then goes on to speculate that the people of the city they found where wiped out by some disease that occurred during the contact period with explorers. There is nothing to back this up.

I read this book because Dana Stabenow rated with 5 stars and provided a rave review. I was not so impressed.

Coyote America

Coyote AmericaCoyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History by Dan Flores
Published by Basic Books on June 7th 2016
Pages: 271
Format: hardback
Genres: Natural History, Nonfiction, Zoology
See it @ Goodreads
four-half-stars


Synopsis


With its uncanny night howls, unrivaled ingenuity, and amazing resilience, the coyote is the stuff of legends. In Indian folktales it often appears as a deceptive trickster or a sly genius. But legends don’t come close to capturing the incredible survival story of the coyote. As soon as Americans—especially white Americans—began ranching and herding in the West, they began working to destroy the coyote. Despite campaigns of annihilation employing poisons, gases, helicopters, and engineered epidemics, coyotes didn’t just survive, they thrived, expanding across the continent from Anchorage, Alaska, to New York’s Central Park. In the war between humans and coyotes, coyotes have won hands-down.
Coyote America is both an environmental and a deep natural history of the coyote. It traces both the five-million-year-long biological story of an animal that has become the “wolf” in our backyards, as well as its cultural evolution from a preeminent spot in Native American religions to the hapless foil of the Road Runner. A deeply American tale, the story of the coyote in the American West and beyond is a sort of Manifest Destiny in reverse, with a pioneering hero whose career holds up an uncanny mirror to the successes and failures of American expansionism.
An illuminating biography of this extraordinary animal, Coyote America isn’t just the story of an animal’s survival—it is one of the great epics of our time.

My thoughts on this book

A couple of Coyotes

Dan Flores writes in Coyote America “I have borne witness to certain truth about coyotes as neighbors: you do not see them as much as hear them.” I live in an area where there is a large coyote population, I hardly ever see a coyote but I hear them all the time.

Dan Flores has written a richly detailed look at the America conservation movement and its attitude toward the coyote for the last century and half. A native of North America, the coyote has a rich history, which today continues to grow.

The coyote is a fascinating creature it’s ability to adapt and survive has spanned 10,000 years and made it a true American icon. When the first White people arrived in America they did not know what to make of this “prairie wolf” but they did sense a threat, I had no idea that the government has waged a century old battle for the eradication of the coyote.

Early on the National Park Service was devising methods to eradicate wolves, mountain loins and coyotes. It was all out warfare – they shot and poisoned these animals without regard. They murdered these animals in the thousands.

Once again you run into what I feel is a continuing theme in present day American life. Is what we are doing the best for all of us or are we catering to the few? I feel this book shows that once again we have lost our way, we are continuing to do what we always have and it’s not really working. Is there away we can co-exist with nature and the other inhabitants of this planet?