The extraordinary true story of the rediscovery of the Mayan civilization: In the tradition of The Lost City of Z and Empire of Ice, comes the forgotten tale of 19th century American John Lloyd Stephens's quest to uncover and understand the ancient world's most advanced civilization amid the jungles of Central America. Imagine The Lost City of Z, except the fabled lost jungle civilization really was found-an "Egypt in the Americas" in which 1,500-year-old pyramids and temples were hidden in impenetrable tropical forests, along with evidence of astonishingly sophisticated art, writing, science, and culture. In 1839, when John Lloyd Stephens, a dashing U.S. special ambassador to Central America, and Frederick Catherwood, an acclaimed British architect and draftsman, set out into the unexplored jungles of the Yucatan, Charles Darwin was aboard the H.M.S. Beagle, the Bible was the basic template of history, and most people believed the world was less than 6,000 years old. Deep in the jungles, they stumbled upon the wondrous ruins of the Mayan civilization-an astonishing find that would change western understanding of human history.
In Jungle of Stone, William Carlsen uncovers the rich history of the ruins as he follows Stephens and Catherwood's journey through present day Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. Drawing upon Stephens's journals and Cather's magnificent illustrations-which became the bestselling book Incidents of Travel in Yucatan-Carlsen artfully tells the enthralling story of two great voyagers and the world they discovered.
"The book succeeds in all ways. ... A highly readable, fascinating historical narrative." -- Providence Journal "Carlsen's cogent and well-written dual biography successfully illuminates the fascinating tale of these intrepid pioneers of a lost civilization. ... [An] adventure tale that make[s] Indiana Jones seem tame." -- Library Journal "[A] gripping, informative history." -- San Jose Mercury News "Thrilling. ... A captivating history of two men who dramatically changed their contemporaries' view of the past." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "Lively. ... Ably researching [Stephens and Catherwood] and affectingly describing their friendship, Carlsen makes an exemplary contribution to the lost-cities genre." -- Booklist (starred review) "Jungle of Stone is a tale of two men that makes Indiana Jones look like a stay-at-home slacker. ... Full of astonishing adventures and breathtaking discoveries. ... [Carlsen] brings both research skills and a gift for narrative to this book. ... Thrilling." -- Tampa Bay Times "Carlsen is an engaging guide, at home in the jungle. ... There's plenty to like in [his] account." -- Wall Street Journal "Carlson's book brings these important explorers back to the limelight they so richly deserve." -- The Explorers Journal: The Official Quarterly of The Explorers Club "Carlsen's masterful chronicle of [Stephens and Catherwood's] explorations is a welcome excursion to a fascinating story set in the golden age of exploration." -- The Missourian "With verve and vigor... Carlsen finely explicates the challenges of the Catherwood-Stephens expedition and the wonders they found." -- Publishers Weekly "If you're hankering for a good adventure, there is no better book this spring. ... This account reads like an adventure novel, but it has the added benefit of being completely true. Armchair explorers, history buffs, and anyone who loves a good journey: Don't miss this book." -- Bookish
William Carlsen was a reporter for two decades at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he was a finalist for the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting. He has also worked for the New York Times and taught journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. He and his wife lived for many years in Antigua, Guatemala; they currently reside in Sonoma County, California.