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Digging Politics

by John J. Miller

The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story, by Douglas Preston (Grand Central, 336 pp., $28)

The title of Douglas Preston’s latest work of nonfiction sounds ripped from a movie poster that advertises the next entry in one of Hollywood’s most lucrative franchises: It’s easy to envision Indiana Jones and the Lost City of the Monkey God in theaters soon.

Yet Preston’s tale is true, an adventure story of scientists who recently located an ancient ruin in Honduras. Led by Steve Elkins and with Preston as their chronicler, they penetrated a thick jungle, evaded hungry jaguars and poisonous snakes, and found a figurative El Dorado. In the aftermath, many fell sick, having contracted a deadly parasitic disease called leishmaniasis, or “white leprosy.” Their innovation and daring earned them comparisons to the famous film character.

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