Douglas Preston is an author I am highly familiar with. I have read over a dozen of his Pendergast series, some of his stand alone novels, and have suggested to many friends the reading of his other non-fiction book The Monster of Florence. So when I saw this book was coming out I was quite excited.
Preston happens to come across some guys doing research into the ancient white city that has been searched for since the days of Hernan Cortez. Long gone are the days of when archeologist just tromping through the woods searching for things. The crew uses Lidar to map out the areas of interest. When Preston asked a well-known archeologist to look over the Lidar data she was completely uninterested rejecting the technology.
Once the areas of interest had been mapped out the crew got the Honduran government involved and they offered military protection. They set up 2 camps. The researchers set up their camp and had all kinds of supplies. The military protection camped a little ways from them and lived off the land.
The researchers and archeologist would hike from the campsite to the ancient city every day. This wasn’t a horrible hike except when it began to rain for days. This made all the trails muddier. The campsite became muddier also, to the point where the ground under the tent became so mushy it felt like a water bed.
One of the best tools the crew had was their GPS. Without this, most of the targets they saw in the Lidar data would have been easily overlooked because some parts of the jungle you could see less than a few feet in front of you.
The first half of the book is all about being in Honduras. The next quarter of the book is about the history of the Native culture, the invasion of the Spanish and most of all the how the new diseases brought over wiped out so many people. Then Preston talks of leishmaniasis, which many members of the expedition got.