The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story

The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story

by Douglas Preston


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781455540006
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 01/03/2017
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 251,315
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

The thrillers of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child "stand head and shoulders above their rivals" ( Publishers Weekly). Preston and Child's Relic and The Cabinet of Curiosities were chosen by readers in a National Public Radio poll as being among the one hundred greatest thrillers ever written, and Relic was made into a number-one box office hit movie. They are coauthors of the famed Pendergast series and their recent novels include Fever Dream, Cold Vengeance, Two Graves, and Gideon's Corpse. In addition to his novels, Preston writes about archaeology for the New Yorker and Smithsonian magazines. Lincoln Child is a former book editor who has published five novels of his own, including the huge bestseller Deep Storm.
Readers can sign up for The Pendergast File, a monthly "strangely entertaining note" from the authors, at their website, The authors welcome visitors to their alarmingly active Facebook page, where they post regularly.

Place of Birth:

Cambridge, Massachusetts


B.A., Pomona College, 1978

Table of Contents

1 The Gates of Hell 1

2 Somewhere in the Americas 7

3 The Devil Had Killed Him 11

4 A Land of Cruel Jungles 20

5 One of the Few Remaining Mysteries 26

6 The Heart of Darkness 39

7 The Fish That Swallowed the Whale 52

8 Lasers in the Jungle 60

9 Something That Nobody Had Done 65

10 The Most Dangerous Place on the Planet 74

11 Uncharted Territory 88

12 No Coincidences 105

13 Fer-de-Lance 113

14 Don't Pick the Flowers 124

15 Human Hands 139

16 I'm Going Down 148

17 A Bewitchment Place 160

18 Quagmire 170

19 Controversy 182

20 The Cave of the Glowing Skulls 194

21 The Symbol of Death 211

22 They Came to Wither the Flowers 219

23 White Leprosy 233

24 The National Institutes of Health 249

25 An Isolated Species 259

26 La Ciudad del Jaguar 271

27 We Became Orphans 289

Acknowledgments 303

Sources and Bibliography 305

Index 319

About the Author 327

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The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A true 21st Century adventure story that reads like a novel . Well written and fast paced , it shows the plight of archaeology in what is probably the most remote place on earth .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lost City is mostly a travelogue with little info on the site itself, so a letdown. Pages on how trip was organized and irrelevant background on team members, but just few paragraphs on what they saw there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reveals what most of us would consider extreme hardship, but handled by the author without excessive worry for his own safety.
BillMichalek More than 1 year ago
The tale begins with a bit of backstory on the legendary White City aka the City of the Monkey Gods, purported to be hidden deep in the Honduran rain-forest. After recounting subsequent failed – or outright fraudulent – past expeditions to find the place, the author proceeds with a well-written chronicle of the recent “discovery” of the city using advanced laser-mapping techniques that provide 3D models of the ground even when said ground is choked with the fauna of the rain forest. A subsequent “ground thruth’ing” expedition is organized and the author is invited along. Without giving away too much, this first hundred or so pages is fascinating and a bit of a page turner. The expedition is examined in a number of contexts, including the necessity of extracting the relevant permits from a convoluted and corrupt Honduran government. The trek through the dense jungle and the setup of a campground gives us a vivid insight into the tribulations of living in a rain-soaked, bug and snake infested quagmire. The subsequent publication of the findings and the not always exuberant reaction of the scientific community is also interesting. After that, however, it’s as if the author has finished the meat of the tale and finds himself a couple of hundred pages short of a respectable tome. He spends several chapters discussing the history of pandemics in the America’s brought on by the arrival of the conquistadors. All as part of a speculation as to why the discovered area was apparently rapidly abandoned a thousand or more years ago. Sort of goes all Jared Diamond on us, but in the form of a seventh grader primer. He repeatedly speculates wildly based on scant evidence and, indeed, begins to validate some of the scientific communities concern about the sensationalist nature of the entire project. After that, much of the rest of the book seems to deal with minutia about a certain tropical disease he and several other members of the expedition contracted. Chapters zip by with more and more about this disease, with nary a word about the expedition after which his book is titled. He seems to run off into the weeds at some point, pointing out that the disease he contracted and other such diseases are migrating North as the result of global warming. Something like this could make a thick doctoral thesis but his underlying association of the migration with climate change amount to a quote from a single expert. As the saying goes, that’s another book. The book actually closes amid cautions about future pandemics with little tie up on the expeditions’ impact or on future return trips. My gut feeling is that the book was somewhat rushed into publication and that a deeper, more meaningful version might be delivered in five years or so after much more “ground truth’ing” has provided more data to the discussion. This guy is a good writer, with a clean and intelligent style. Maybe it is that he is typically a writer of articles that this book has the feel of a series of articles pasted together to make a buck ( ooops, I meant “book” ).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am touched and overwhelmed by challenges this team had to overcome to do archeology in Honduras. Amazing how fate brought it all together to complete this work. I enjoyed a glimpse into a newly discovered Central American civilization, and look forward to hearing more, as field research continues on the T1 city.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantastic recounting of the history of the eastern coast of Honduras and the archeological expeditions there and their aftermath.
AndrewReadsBooks More than 1 year ago
A while back, I read The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann. It's a tale of amazonian exploration, cultural anthropology, and scientific colonialism that I found thoroughly engaging and exciting. When I saw The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story, I was excited to go back down that rabbit hole. And in that respect, the book did not disappoint. The book has a few major 'parts', though they're not overtly specified. The first portion discussed the early history of explorations looking for the White City, and the varying excitement and duplicity that surrounded this colonial exploration. The reader is treated to tales of government corruption, mining fraud, and literal banana republics. We also meet some memorable characters - the ex-SAS security manager, the ex-smuggler fixer, the goodhearted filmmaker, and the headstrong archaeologist. Next, the expedition actually goes forwards. The author discusses much of the technical and political work that went into making the expeditions happen, including a fascinating and nontechnical discussion of LIDAR and national security issues. The exploration of the city itself feels like the shortest part of the book; I feel we spend more time on giant fer de lance snakes than on the city itself. And finally, the book concludes with the post expedition academic controversy, and far more information about leishmaniasis than I ever knew I wanted to know. The writing is very readable, and there's a good balance between scientific and technical details and engaging narrative. I find myself wanting to know more about many of the characters. Surely there's a forthcoming book about the life and times of Heinicke, right? . That said, further images would greatly help with understanding some of the findings and ideas being presented. The attention to issues of cultural autonomy and scientific merit were admirable, and something often missing in the modern exploration literature. I think my greatest disappointment is that you don't learn much about the author himself in this book, despite him being a part of the expedition and team. We see him struggle with the physical aspects of the journey, but I'd like to see more of his relationship with the other explorers. Definitely worth the read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Definitely recommend. This book is full of great info and intrigue. If Ancient Antiquity and a great adventure are your thing, then this book is for you and even if its not, I still highly recommend it because the perilous journey itself is worth the time. Great read. Enjoy. :-)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This seems like a great read. Its pretty much packed with interesting ideas and prospects that captivate the mind. If Ancient Antiquity is your thing, then this book is for you and even if its not your thing, this book is definitely a journey worth taking. Recommend reading. Enjoy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book, exciting and a page turner!
Anonymous 6 months ago
enjoyed the read very much. Scary but lots of adventure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very engaging. Well written and easy to read Full of valuable information
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Better than fiction! A multifaceted tale from a master storyteller.
TulaneGirl More than 1 year ago
Starts off with a bang recounting the speech designed to terrorize the expedition crew into safe habits and just takes off from there. Such an interesting and fast read about an expedition into the heart of Honduras trying to find the lost Ciudad Blanca. The first part of the book recounts the mythology surrounding the area. The second part recounts finding long forgotten cultural areas deep in the Honduran jungle. Here, the writer doesn't shy away from pointing out the criticisms against the expeditions and I applaud the writer for meeting those criticisms head on. My favorite part of the book is the third part. It focuses on the writer and the team getting leishmaniasis and the treatment he and the team receive as a result of it. It's here that the book turns from an expedition book to a science book. ***Note that this is mostly an experience book and isn't heavy into describing the site or the findings.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well written account that keeps you reading. Exciting and at the same time terrifying knowing the possibility of what might be coming our way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As always
CaptainsQuarters More than 1 year ago
I have a fascination with archaeology and with lost cities of treasure (Arrr!). This book discusses the trials and tribulations of finding the legendary White City in Honduras. The book kinda had three parts. The first was a look into the history and legends regarding trying to find the lost city. The use of satellite technology to find archaeological sites of interest is absolutely fascinating. The second part was the search for the physical city itself. Surprisingly, this was me least favorite part of the book. It seemed quick and incomplete. I wanted specifics about the sites and specific findings about those people who lived there. Unfortunately the data and research are in the very early stages. So the look at the cultural significance of the sites was mild though intriguing. The last part dealt with a specific tropical disease that the research group caught. This was surprising, scary, and weirdly awesome. A quick read that I recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If this were a work of fiction, it would have been a fascinating read. That the story is fact makes it that much more riveting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gripping story, hard to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I heard about the book from a family member and it was a great read, interesting and informative the perspective told.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very detailed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you ever fancy yourself another Indiana Jones, tis book may dispell you of this idea, or drive you toeards it. A fascinating tale of adventure and intrigue.