Journalist Christopher Stewart first heard of the lost White City on the Mosquito Coast in the Honduras while reporting on the country's drug trade. It piqued his interest and he continued to investigate for his own curiosity. And then curiosity turned into obsession when he stumbled across the journals of Theodore Morde. Morde discovered a lost city in 1940 after four months spent hunting in the jungle. But Morde died before he revealed the location or was able to return to Honduras.
"I just kept wondering - what if? What if I really managed to retrace Morde's journey. What if I traveled to Honduras? What would I discover? Did I have the guts to try?"
Well, Stewart does. He joins forces with archaeologist Chis Begley who has spent over a decade travelling and studying the Honduran jungle. With two local guides they set off to follow in Morde's footsteps and perhaps discover the location of the Lost City.
Jungleland is told in alternating narratives - Morde's journey and Stewart's present day explorations. I found Morde's history fascinating and had great hopes for Stewart's as well. Stewart's 'adventure' fell short for me. Perhaps I came in with the wrong outlook. Based on the cover blurbs, I wanted more. The WWII spy line is misleading - it is but a small part of Morde's story. But, a lot of Jungleland is Stewart's personal struggle with settling down with a wife, a child and debt. Not what I was looking to read about, but I do appreciate his honesty is sharing these moment. For me, Begley seems the more interesting and certainly the more knowledgeable of the duo. I would like to read more of Begley's adventures.
I have to say I was very frustrated by the last chapter. They finally discover something interesting and Stewart leaves us hanging with Chris saying "Now, this is interesting." And that's it! The epilogue takes us back to New York and Stewart's life with no further explanation of what they found.
I chose to listen to Jungleland in audio book format. Jef Brick was the reader. I thought his voice was well suited to give voice to Stewart's words. It was easy to listen, quite expressive and portrayed the mental image I had created for Stewart. Listen to an excerpt of Jungleland. Read an excerpt of Jungleland.
I do like travel memoirs and this was an interesting premise. But I think the idea was very, very similar to David Grann's 'The Lost City of Z'. Which I preferred. (my review)