Douglas Preston worked as a writer and editor for the American Museum of Natural History and taught writing at Princeton University. He has written for The New Yorker, Natural History, National Geographic, Harper's, Smithsonian, and The Atlantic. The author of several acclaimed nonfiction books—including the bestseller “The Monster of Florence” - Preston is also the co-author with Lincoln Child of the bestselling series of novels featuring FBI agent Pendergast.
Now, Preston’s “The Lost City of the Monkey God A True Story’ is the #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestseller. Meet the author at the Southport Memorial Library, 1032 Hendricks Hill Rd., Southport on Thursday, July 25 at 7 p.m.
Since the days of conquistador Hernan Cortes, rumors have circulated about an ancient White City of immense wealth hidden in the Honduran interior. Indigenous tribes spoke of ancestors who had fled there to escape the Spanish, warning that anyone who disturbs this sacred city will fall ill and die. Myths of treasure and every imaginable curse run rampant – but the fact that the city existed somewhere out in the jungles of Mosquitia, was widely accepted by Hondurans. In 1940, swashbuckling journalist Theodore Morde returned from the jungle with hundreds of artifacts and tantalizing stories of having seen the crumbling walls of the Lost City of the Monkey God for himself. Soon after, he committed suicide without revealing its mysterious location.
Three quarters of a century later, Douglas Preston climbed aboard a rickety, single-engine plane carrying a machine that would change everything: LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), an expensive laser technology on loan from NASA that could map the terrain under the dense rain forest canopy to a resolution within three feet. That flight revealed for the first time an unmistakable image of a sprawling metropolis, tantalizing proof of not just the mythical city but an entire lost civilization – contemporaries of, but distinct from the Mayans. “The Lost City of the Monkey God A True Story,” is Preston’s riveting, danger-filled narrative about the incredible discovery and the life-threatening events that followed.
With the LiDAR maps to guide them, a ground team ventured into the raw, breathtakingly beautiful, and extremely dangerous wilderness of the Honduran interior to confirm the discovery. Preston and the team faced down torrential rains, hungry jaguars, and one of the deadliest snakes in the world, the fer-de-lance. But it wasn't until they returned from the jungle that tragedy struck: most of the team – including Preston himself – suddenly succumbed to "the curse of the Monkey God," falling ill in a virulent outbreak of Mucocutaneous Leishmaniasis or 'white leprosy,' the world's second-deadliest parasite after Malaria.
This mass outbreak of disease was unusual, and the strain of Leishmania they contracted had not been encountered before, so the National Institutes of Health took the team on as a medical study group, offering to treat them all for free. The parasite is incurable, and the seven day treatment to push it into dormancy can cause severe kidney damage – sometimes after only one or two treatments. Several members of the expedition barely survived the first round.
Suspenseful and surprising, Preston’s latest work is narrative nonfiction at its most compelling: a story of adventure, danger, ancient curses, modern technology, a stunning medical mystery, and a riveting eye-witness account of one of the greatest discoveries of the 21st century.
"The Lost City of the Monkey God is a superior example of narrative nonfiction, an exciting, immersive tale of modern science and ancient mythology. Preston captures the complexity of his subject without bogging down in the details, presenting scenes with clarity, purposefulness and wit. It's a great story for a snowy day, an action-packed journey into a hot zone of scientific intrigue.” - The Portland Press Herald
Slides and a book signing will accompany this talk. For more information call the library at 633-2741.