Douglas Preston’s historical/journalistic approach recounting two successful expeditions deep into the Honduras rain forest discovering and mapping the fabled White City aka, and to promote the title, The Lost City Of The Monkey God, unfortunately comes across as a dry, step-by-step account with an added historical element providing the obligatory back story. Discoveries notwithstanding, what was missing was something as wet as the jungle itself, and the narrative suffered as a result.
Not to discount these jungle adventures, as Preston and the teams invading the Central American landscape in search of archaeological destiny face many an obstacle; bugs, parasites, infectious diseases, six-foot-long snakes, a completely hostile environment, threatening narco cartels – not top ingredients for a must-do vacation. The end result cannot be discounted either. Mapping and exploring the White City is an incredible archaeological achievement and Preston writes out every step.
However, it is that literary bite of a fer-de-lance that eludes The Lost City Of The Monkey God. The journalistic report lacks the narrative punch, which is what made David Grann’s The Lost City of Z from 2009 so excitingly successful. Preston’s listing of debates within the archaeological academia and interviews with the infectious diseases team at NIH would certainly make for compelling research papers, but not so much for those jonesing on New World exploration.