Cover image for The Lost City of the Monkey God : A True Story / Douglas Preston.
The Lost City of the Monkey God : A True Story / Douglas Preston.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Grand Central Publishing, 2017.

Physical Description:
viii, 326 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), maps ; 24 cm
The Gates of Hell -- Somewhere in the Americas -- The Devil Had Killed Him -- A Land of Cruel Jungles -- One of the Few Remaining Mysteries -- The Heart of Darkness -- The Fish That Swallowed the Whale -- Lasers in the Jungle -- Something Nobody Had Done -- The Most Dangerous Place on the Planet -- Uncharted Territory -- No Coincidences -- Fer-de-Lance -- Don't Pick the Flowers -- Human Hands -- "I'm Going Down" -- A Bewitchment Place -- Quagmire -- Controversy -- The Cave of the Glowing Skulls -- The Symbol of Death -- They Came to Wither the Flowers -- White Leprosy -- The National Institutes of Health -- An Isolated Species -- La Ciudad del Jaguar -- We Are Orphans.
"#1 New York Times bestselling author Douglas Preston takes readers on an adventure deep into the Honduran jungle in this riveting, danger-filled true story about the discovery of an ancient lost civilization"-- Provided by publisher.


Library Branch
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
1 Bob Harkins Branch 972.85 PRE Book Adult General Collection

On Order



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 Hern_n Cort_s, 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.

Author Notes

Douglas Jerome Preston was born on May 20, 1956 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He received a B.A. in English literature from Pomona College in 1978. His career began at the American Museum of Natural History, where he worked as an editor and writer from 1978 to 1985. He also was a lecturer in English at Princeton University.

He became a full-time writer of both fiction and nonfiction books in 1986. Many of his fiction works are co-written with Lincoln Child including Relic, Riptide, Thunderhead, The Wheel of Darkness, Cemetery Dance, and Gideon's Corpse. His nonfiction works include Dinosaurs in the Attic; Cities of Gold: A Journey Across the American Southwest in Pursuit of Coronado; Talking to the Ground; and The Royal Road. He has written for numerous magazines including The New Yorker; Natural History; Harper's; Smithsonian; National Geographic; and Travel and Leisure. He became a New York Times Best Selling author with his titles Two Graves and Crimson Shores which he co-wrote with Lincoln Child, and his titles White Fire, The Lost Island Blue Labyrinth and The Lost City of the Monkey God.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Novelist Preston's irresistibly gripping account of his experiences as part of the expedition to locate an ancient city in the Honduran mountains reads like a fairy tale minus the myth. "There was once a great city in the mountains," he writes, "struck down by a series of catastrophes, after which the people decided the gods were angry and left, leaving their possessions. Thereafter it was shunned as a cursed place, forbidden, visiting death on those who dared enter." In 2012, Preston was present as the expedition team attempted to use light detection and ranging technology to identify the city's location in the uncharted wildernesses of Honduras; they "[shot] billions of laser beams into a jungle that no human beings had entered for perhaps five hundred years." The effort succeeded in locating two large sites, apparently built by the civilization that once inhabited the Mosquiteria region. The discovery led to a return trip in 2015 to explore the sites on foot, a physically and emotionally draining experience that resulted in remarkable archeological finds, specifically a cache of stone sculptures. Preston, author of The Monster of Florence and co-author with Lincoln Child of the bestselling thriller series featuring FBI agent Pendergast, brings readers into the field while enriching the narrative with historical context, beginning with 16th-century rumors of the city's existence reported by explorer Hernán Cortés after his conquest of Mexico. Along the way, Preston explains the legendary abandonment of the City of the Monkey God and provides scientific reasoning behind its reputation as life-threatening. Admirers of David Grann's The Lost City of Z will find their thirst for armchair jungle adventuring quenched here. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

New York Review of Books Review

THE YEAR MAY still be young, but I would wager a small fortune that Douglas Preston has already written the best snake-decapitation scene of 2017. The passage is nestled midway through "The Lost City of the Monkey God," Preston's account of accompanying an archaeological expedition through the wilds of eastern Honduras. Shortly after he and his group set up camp in La Mosquitia, a jungled expanse that conceals a trove of pre-Columbian ruins, Preston spots a venomous pit viper next to a hammock. He calls on Andrew Wood, a former British commando who has been hired to keep the expedition's death toll to a minimum, to handle the matter. Wood does so by jabbing at the snake with a forked tree branch, to the snake's clear displeasure. "As its head lashed back and forth, straining to sink its fangs into Woody's fist, it expelled poison all over the back of his hand, causing his skin to bubble," Preston writes. After he finally gets the better of the fight and manages to lop off the snake's skull, Wood apologizes for failing to clean up the bloody aftermath right away; he explains that he had thought it wise to wash off the venom first, since it was starting to seep into an open wound. Though I was enthralled by Preston's frenetic depiction of man-on-serpent violence, I also feared it signaled that his latest book was about to take a turn for the trite. Memoirs of jungle adventures too often devolve into lurid catalogs of hardships, as their authors take undue glee in detailing every bug bite, malarial fever and bad cup of instant coffee they've had to endure. But Preston proves too thoughtful an observer and too skilled a storyteller to settle for churning out danger porn. He has instead created something nuanced and sublime: a warm and geeky paean to the revelatory power of archaeology, tempered by notes of regret. Preston has earned considerable fame as the co-author, with Lincoln Child, of brisk and noirish thrillers like last year's "The Obsidian Chamber." But he has also long maintained a side gig as a magazine writer who specializes in chronicling quests for dinosaur bones, Egyptian tombs and Anasazi relics. While working on one such assignment for National Geographic in 1996, Preston first heard the legend of La Ciudad Blanca (the White City), an abandoned jungle metropolis said to be hidden deep within Mosquitia. Numerous explorers have sallied forth in search of this alleged archaeological wonder, only to return with empty hands or fantastic lies. One British adventurer named Frederick Mitchell-Hedges, for example, claimed to have stumbled upon the sunken continent of Atlantis while on a failed mission to locate the city in the early 1930s. (Throughout his long and shady career, Mitchell-Hedges also falsely purported to have fought alongside Pancho Villa and to have hunted for sea monsters with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's son.) The explorer most synonymous with La Ciudad Blanca is Theodore Morde, a Massachusetts-born journalist who made his name covering the Spanish Civil War. In 1940, Morde declared that he'd found the fabled city after a torturous trek through Mosquitia. He described a walled settlement, large enough to have once housed 30,000 people, that was festooned with elaborate carvings of monkeys. He refused to reveal the city's location to anyone, including the millionaire oil heir who had financed his trip. Preston contends that Morde kept mum because he had engaged in a grand deception: He had spent all his time in Honduras prospecting for gold rather than looking for the White City as he had promised his patron. (Morde receives a fuller and more forgiving portrait in another recent book, Christopher S. Stewart's "Jungleland.") MORDE'S COLORFUL TALES may have been bunk, but decades later they helped inspire a cinematographer named Steve Elkins to try to find the White City with the aid of advanced technology. Thanks to some Hollywood wheeling and dealing - an executive producer of the film "Beasts of No Nation" pops up in Preston's narrative - Elkins raised enough money to have a chunk of Mosquitia surveyed with an aircraft-mounted lidar scanner, which uses lasers to detect topographical anomalies. The scans revealed something potentially majestic beneath the jungle canopy: evidence of moldering buildings, plazas and possibly even a ball court. Preston was not disappointed by what he saw on the 2015 expedition to explore the ruins, though he admits that a layperson might feel otherwise. "The j ungle-choked mounds in Mosquitia are, at first glance, not nearly as sexy as the cut-stone temples of the Maya or the intricate gold artwork of the Muisca," he writes. But by letting archaeologists riff on the possible meanings of specific objects, Preston builds a compelling case for the scientific significance of what the expedition unearthed. He takes evident delight, for example, in listening to a Colorado State University professor explain how stone jars rimmed with "triangular-headed humanoid figures" could symbolize "bound captives, ready for sacrifice." The book's most affecting moments don't center on the ruminations of archaeologists, however, but rather on the otherworldly nature of the jungle - a place that Preston portrays as akin to a sentient creature. He marvels at how the jungle floor undulates with a "greasy, jittering flow" of cockroaches, and he shares his awe at the "chromatic infinities" of the impenetrable flora that has frustrated generations of explorers. And as the great scale of the archaeological site becomes clear, Preston laments that the yearslong process of excavation will inevitably rob Mosquitia of much of its mystique. "I had the sense that our exploration had diminished it, stripping it of its secrets," he observes upon departing for home. As Adam and Eve can well attest, the pursuit of knowledge is never without its unintended consequences. For all his curiosity about the Mosquitia ruins, Preston exhibits puzzlingly little interest in Honduras itself. He appears to have met few ordinary Hondurans during his travels, and the book can occasionally feel clinical as a result. At one point, for example, Preston mentions that a town he stopped in has been plagued by drug-related violence. "However, we were assured that we were in no danger because of our guard of elite Honduran soldiers," he curtly notes, before switching back to discussing his preparations for the jungle. Preston also seems largely indifferent to the Honduran public's feelings about the ruins, which may or may not be connected to the White City myth; we hear a good deal from the nation's president, who lauds a projected rise in tourism, but not much from anyone of lesser rank who might have more complicated views of what's to come for Mosquitia and its inhabitants. It is hard to feel anything but sympathy for Preston, however, given that he ended up suffering so grievously for the sake of this book. I won't spoil the nasty means by which the jungle exacted its revenge on the Mosquitia expedition, except to say that I wouldn't blame Preston in the slightest if he chooses to stick to fiction from now on. But let's hope that doesn't end up being the case, for few other writers possess such heartfelt appreciation for the ways in which artifacts can yield the stories of who we are. Preston is alive to the jungle and the 'greasy, jittering flow' of cockroaches on its floor. BRENDAN I. KOERNER is a contributing editor at Wired and the author, most recently, of "The Skies Belong to Us"

Library Journal Review

National Geographic and New Yorker writer and novelist Preston shares the story of his involvement in the search for a historic lost city in the rainforests of Honduras. Preston is one member of a team that managed to use a combination of historical research and state-of-the-art technology to examine the rainforests in the Mosquitia region, an area filled with all manner of dangers, from disease to drug traffickers. Preston's writing brings the reader along with the team as they discover 500-year-old artifacts, encounter huge and deadly snakes, and face the political and academic fallout the search brings with it. Listeners hear several interesting side stories, such as the discovery of historical fraud in their research and the battle half the team had with a deadly parasite picked up at the ruins. Preston's journalistic experience is on full display as he gives not only the viewpoint of those in the expedition but also those on the outside. Bill Mumy's reading is straightforward and engaging. The final disc includes 16 pages of photos. Verdict A great story with many paths to interest fans of history, archaeology, adventure, environmentalism, South America, or diseases.-Tristan M. Boyd, Austin, TX © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1 The Gates of Hellp. 1
2 Somewhere in the Americasp. 7
3 The Devil Had Killed Himp. 11
4 A Land of Cruel Junglesp. 20
5 One of the Few Remaining Mysteriesp. 26
6 The Heart of Darknessp. 39
7 The Fish That Swallowed the Whalep. 52
8 Lasers in the Junglep. 60
9 Something That Nobody Had Donep. 65
10 The Most Dangerous Place on the Planetp. 74
11 Uncharted Territoryp. 88
12 No Coincidencesp. 105
13 Fer-de-Lancep. 113
14 Don't Pick the Flowersp. 124
15 Human Handsp. 139
16 I'm Going Downp. 148
17 A Bewitchment Placep. 160
18 Quagmirep. 170
19 Controversyp. 182
20 The Cave of the Glowing Skullsp. 194
21 The Symbol of Deathp. 211
22 They Came to Wither the Flowersp. 219
23 White Leprosyp. 233
24 The National Institutes of Healthp. 249
25 An Isolated Speciesp. 259
26 La Ciudad del Jaguarp. 271
27 We Became Orphansp. 289
Acknowledgmentsp. 303
Sources and Bibliographyp. 305
Indexp. 319
About the Authorp. 327

Google Preview