Book Review: The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston

The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story

This book was recommended to me after I read The Lost City of Z by David Grann, which I read a few years ago. It took me a couple years to read, but I’m glad I finally got to it, because it is such a fascinating book filled with historical details.

Many reviews I read of this book are mixed, but I can safely say I really enjoyed it.

Release: Jan. 2017

Synopsis: La Ciudad Blanca is a legendary city in the Mosquitia region in Honduras, a place early explorers claimed to have found. Now, in modern day, new technology has prompted a new expedition through the dangerous Honduras interior to find the White City. Douglas Preston, a journalist working for National Geographic, joins a group of scientists in their search to find the city, culminating in one of the most important finds in archaeological history of Honduras.


This is nonfiction, and is broken up into three parts. The first talks of the early adventurers’ attempts to find the lost city. The second joins Preston himself as he goes on an expedition in 2015, where the group discover a massive city within the jungle. The third goes into the history known of the indigenous people in the area, with some of their legends and all we know about the city’s history (which isn’t much) as well the the diseases they fought.

This is such an interesting book to read. As someone fascinated by archaeology, I couldn’t stop reading this book. There is that constant question of whether the group will find the city and when they do, whether they can protect it from looting. The book also covers things like Honduras’s modern political climate and history, the Mayan civilization and those who came before them, as well as modern archaeological techniques. There is not a dull moment in this book, and I felt a constant bombardment of information.

Saying that, if you don’t like swearing, you might want to avoid this book. Some of the people Preston travels with swear…a lot. And since Preston is documenting his experiences on the expedition, it would make sense that he always documents the colorful language. Just a warning for those who hate reading a book which contains swearing.

There is also something incredibly sad about this book. It talks about how poverty and crime-stricken Honduras is, and how this civilization whose city they found was wiped out, either by political upheaval or by conquistadors who came into South America bringing horrible diseases. This city is such a mystery because the civilization was almost entirely wiped out, which is so sad! Also, major deforestation (illegal deforestation, might I add) is a constant danger to the safety of the city.

I am not at all an expect on South American history, so this book was both information and an adventure to go on. I think its important to bring awareness to these archaeological finds so that we don’t forget where we came from (or repeat their mistakes).

Usually this is when I tear apart the book, mentioning all the things I disliked. But with this book, I struggle to find any part I did not enjoy. If you are a fan of history and archaeology, I highly recommend this book! It’s like a jungle adventure like Indiana Jones but with more understanding of preserving history. It’s great!

Saying that, the ending, which focused on disease, was not very interesting and, even with my limited knowledge, is more paranoid and based on biased ideas. It basically says we’re all going to die from disease because of global warming. So…there’s that. The book pretty much ends with the point that no civilization lasts forever and we’re all going to die…really positive.

Have you read this book? Or read any book about another archaeological find? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

9 thoughts on “Book Review: The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston

  1. This book sounds very interesting. I heard of it before, but reading your review makes me want to dive into it as well. I hope this comment is published for I tried leaving a comment on the previous post and I don’t know what happened.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve seen this book on my library’s shelf for months and I almost picked it up a few times but I’ve held back due to a few other projects I have yet to complete. Even so, I’m still tempted every single time I go into that area of the library. After reading this, I’ll probably be more likely to add it to my checkout list the next time I’m there. It’s unfortunate that there’s some bias in it, but with so many authors out there, it’s almost impossible to find a book without a hint of it. Still, I’ll be sure to keep it in mind and thanks for the review.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The last archaeological book I read was about medieval life in Finland, and it was fascinating. Also, now, this is more like history, but some time ago I also read a book on “real-life Bluebeard”, Gilles de Rais. Very fascinating also! I don’t think either of these books has been translated, though…

    Liked by 1 person

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