>While James Bond was out battling the likes of Dr. No and Goldfinger, sipping shaken-not-stirred martinis and racing around in his specially equipped Aston Martin (or BMW, depending on which version of Bond you fancy), Miss Moneypenny was sitting quietly at her desk, typing up his reports and daydreaming about the womanizing secret agent, right? Wrong. Kate Westbrook’s The Moneypenny Diaries paints a very different picture of M’s loyal secretary. Haunted by the disappearance of her father on a mysterious covert mission during World War II, Jane Moneypenny joins MI6 in the hope that the connections she makes in Britain’s spy agency will lead her to the truth about his fate. Meanwhile, the secrecy surrounding her day-to-day work complicates her personal relationships, and the information she is privy to involves her in dangers far removed from her office at MI6 headquarters. And then there’s 007, the dashing but troubled agent with whom she shares a flirtatious friendship, and for whose welfare Jane spends many a worried, wakeful night.
Yet Fawcett, who had become a preeminent South American explorer, seemed assured of success. When he and his companions sent a dispatch back from the village of a friendly Indian tribe they warned friends and relatives that they might be unable to communicate for up to two years. They were confident that during the course of those years they would find Z and unlock its ancient secrets, and the world waited with baited breath for the conclusion of their daring adventure. It never came.
Percy Fawcett disappeared, and it is the fate of he and his young companions – as well as the existence or illusion of Z – that David Grann explores in his book The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon. Grann ventures into the Amazon, following Fawcett’s trail and seeking out the Indian tribes who may hold the key to the explorers’ fates. Through the narrative of his own journey he weaves the tale of Fawcett’s early expeditions, his remarkable ability to survive the most treacherous conditions, and his growing obsession with a lost civilization which may be the fabled El Dorado. It is an adventure worthy of Indiana Jones, a thrilling peek into a part of the world where the past is alive, jealously guarding its secrets.
Sound familiar? It may, but it isn’t the plot of ABC’s hit series Lost which returns this week for its fifth season. It is actually a summary of James Hilton’s 1933 novel Lost Horizon. This enigmatic, moving story of a Himalayan Shangri-La and the group of outsiders who stumble upon it will haunt you long after you’ve passed the last page. It’s a must-read for Lost fans – as are other tales of castaways, survivors and mysterious, hidden lands such as Lord of the Flies, Robinson Crusoe, Stranger in a Strange Land, Heart of Darkness, and Gulliver’s Travels. Come to the library to find these and other Lost-alikes and prepare yourself for some mind-bending, time-warping, twist-turning adventure!
In 1845 Sir John Franklin sailed from England for the Arctic regions with two ships and 128 men on what was viewed as a mission of certain success. His orders were to find and sail through the Northwest Passage, and to insure his success he was equipped with two of the most technologically-advanced ships ever dispatched to the Arctic – the Terror and the Erebus – and enough supplies to keep him and his men fed and comfortable for at least five years. When the expedition, its ships, and every man on board vanished without a trace, however, the Franklin Expedition turned from a triumphant display of British naval power and ingenuity into one of the greatest and most enduring mysteries in the history of exploration. For the next twenty years England would send out dozens of intrepid men to search for Franklin and his crews – first in the hope of rescue, then simply to solve the puzzle of their fate. Yet to this day only three graves, two cryptic notes, and a scattering of artifacts and human bones have been located to give any indication of what tragedy befell the expedition.
So how is the ill-fated Franklin Expedition connected to the desk in the Oval Office used by U.S. presidents? That is the story that Martin W. Sandler unfolds in his book Resolute: the epic search for the Northwest Passage and John Franklin, and the discovery of the Queen’s ghost ship. It is a fascinating look at the personalities and expeditions – both thrilling and horrifying – that preceded Franklin and ventured into the Arctic wastes after his disappearance.
This and other tales of cold climate adventure and endurance are on display this month at MPL. See how warm January suddenly feels after reading these non-fiction stories of heroism and survival!
> Part history, part suspense, part adventure and travel, Ten Discoveries That Rewrote History by Patrick Hunt is a concise, well-written, and engrossing read. The archeological discoveries that it covers include the ruins of Pompeii and Troy, the Rosetta Stone, the Olduvai Gorge, Machu Picchu, the Tomb of 10,000 Warriors, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Thera, possible location of the lost city of Atlantis. The wonders found at these sites all changed the way we understand history, and most of the sites themselves are still being excavated and studied. But that’s only part of the story — the greatest suspense of these archeological treasures was the intrigue and adventure surrounding their re-discovery after being hidden for centuries. With tales worthy of Indiana Jones and James Bond, this book is great fun for armchair archeologists.