Download Jungle of Stone: The Extraordinary Journey of John L. Stephens and Frederick Catherwood, and the Discovery of the Lost Civilization of the Maya Audiobook

Jungle of Stone: The Extraordinary Journey of John L. Stephens and Frederick Catherwood, and the Discovery of the Lost Civilization of the Maya Audiobook, by William Carlsen Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: William Carlsen Narrator: Paul Michael Garcia Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2016 ISBN: 9780062445308
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“Thrilling. …A captivating history of two men who dramatically changed their contemporaries’ view of the past.” — Kirkus (starred review)

In 1839 rumors of extraordinary yet baffling stone ruins buried within the unmapped jungles of Central America reached two of the world’s most intrepid travelers. Seized by the reports, American diplomat John Lloyd Stephens and British artist Frederick Catherwood—each already celebrated for their adventures in Egypt, the Holy Land, Greece, and Rome—sailed together out of New York Harbor on an expedition into the forbidding rainforests of present-day Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. What they found would re-write the West’s understanding of human history.

In the tradition of Lost City of Z and In the Kingdom of Ice, former San Francisco Chronicle journalist and Pulitzer Prize finalist William Carlsen reveals the unforgettable true story of the discovery of the ancient Maya. Enduring disease, war, and the torments of nature and terrain, Stephens and Catherwood meticulously uncovered and documented the remains of an astonishing civilization that had flourished in the Americas at the same time as classic Greece and Rome—and had been its rival in art, architecture, and power. Their remarkable book about the experience, written by Stephens and illustrated by Catherwood, became a sensation, hailed by Edgar Allen Poe as “perhaps the most interesting book of travel ever published” and recognized today as the birth of American archeology. Most importantly, Stephens and Catherwood were the first to grasp the significance of the Maya remains, recognizing that their antiquity and sophistication overturned the West’s assumptions about the development of civilization.

By the time of the flowering of classical Greece (400 B.C.), the Maya were already constructing pyramids and temples around central plazas. Within a few hundred years the structures took on a monumental scale that required millions of man-hours of labor, technical and organizational expertise.  Over the next millennium dozens of city-states evolved, each governed by powerful lords, some with populations larger than any city in Europe at the time, and connected by road-like causeways of crushed stone. The Maya developed a cohesive, unified cosmology, an array of common gods, a creation story, and a shared artistic and architectural vision. They created dazzling stucco and stone monuments and bas reliefs, sculpting figures and hieroglyphs with refined artistic skill. At their peak, an estimated ten million people occupied the Maya’s heartland on the Yucatan Peninsula, a region where only half a million now live. And yet, by the time the Spanish reached the “New World,” the classic-era Maya had all but disappeared; they would remain a mystery for the next three hundred years.

Today, the tables are turned: the Maya are justly famous, if sometimes misunderstood, while Stephens and Catherwood have been all but forgotten. Based on Carlsen’s rigorous research and his own 1,500-mile journey throughout the Yucatan and Central America, Jungle of Stone is equally a thrilling adventure narrative and a revelatory work of history that corrects our understanding of the Maya and the two remarkable men who set out in 1839 to find them.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Pulitzer Prize finalist Carlsen reconstructs the journey. Lots of in-house love for this one.”

    Library Journal

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About the Author

William Carlsen is a journalist and writer who has worked for the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle and has taught journalism at the University of California at Berkeley. He was a finalist for the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory writing for a series of articles on the AIDS crisis. He lives in San Francisco and Antigua, Guatemala, from which he has retraced Stephens and Catherwood’s extraordinary journey.

About the Narrator

Paul Michael Garcia, an AudioFile Earphones Award winner and former company member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, received his classical training in theater from Southern Oregon University, where he worked as an actor, director, and designer.