Skip to main content

The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story

Review

The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story

In 2012, author Douglas Preston joined an archaeological expedition to conduct an aerial survey of a large region amidst the La Mosquitia mountains in Honduras. Within the valley region referred to as Target One, or T1, they discovered the outlines of an ancient civilization that may have predated the Mayans. Preston and a team of scientists planned for years and finally in 2015 embarked on an exploration of the ruins they found.

THE LOST CITY OF THE MONKEY GOD is the true story of this expedition from start to finish. There is no better guide for this tour than Preston, who worked as a writer and editor for the American Museum of Natural History well before his successful writing career took off. Fans of the Preston & Child novels will recognize that their first book, RELIC, was set in that very same museum.

"This story, although completely true, often reads like a page-turning thriller as Preston and the team come upon obstacle after obstacle along with a bunch of startling revelations."

This story, although completely true, often reads like a page-turning thriller as Preston and the team come upon obstacle after obstacle along with a bunch of startling revelations. The only thing that equaled this were the horrors that also accompanied the journey --- specifically an earth-shattering disease that turned the expedition into a living nightmare for many of those who participated in it.

Preston was born with an itch to explore and validates this by dedicating the book to his mother, Dorothy, who he indicates taught him to explore. This particular exploration led Preston to an area of Honduras known as Portal del Infierno, or “Gates of Hell.” It is located in the heart of the La Mosquitia mountains and is one of the most dangerous areas on the planet. Preston and the team were themselves standing on the shoulders of giants, in exploration terms, and particularly were following the work of explorer Theodore Morde. It was in the 1940s when Morde reportedly found the legendary Lost City of the Monkey God where nearly every carving he saw appeared to be simian. However, much of what he observed went to the grave with him. His family reportedly had his famed walking stick, which apparently had the longitude and latitude numbers of the Lost City carved into it.

No one attempted to revisit the walled city discovered by Morde until 2009. Little was added to his discoveries until the mission that Preston and company went on. The team did find startling things, most of which I will leave you in suspense about. One unexpected and unwanted thing they found was a disease that rivaled only small pox in the devastation it could impose on the human race.

Preston found his body covered in what looked like small red bites after nights of sleeping in tents in the middle of the jungle. In fact, he and other members of the expedition had contracted Leishmania braziliensis. At this point, the narrative takes a vicious turn that resembles the work of Preston's brother, Richard Preston, who penned the nonfiction classic THE HOT ZONE. Be prepared to turn the pages furiously as the heart of every adventurer is opened wide by the thrilling journey outlined in THE LOST CITY OF THE MONKEY GOD.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on January 4, 2017

The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story
by Douglas Preston

  • Publication Date: January 3, 2017
  • Genres: Adventure, History, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1455540005
  • ISBN-13: 9781455540006