Why did I love this book?
Okay, we know there are no dinosaurs living on the tepuis (steep-sided mountains in Venezuela and Guyana). But in 1912 such a discovery was not outside the realm of possibility because this part of South America remained largely unexplored. Doyle, better known as the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was fascinated by the latest discoveries in science at a time when anything seemed possible. Couple that with an interest in far-off places and you have an expedition to South America to verify a series of outrageous claims by arguably his second-greatest character, Professor George Edward Challenger.
Well-researched by Doyle, the book further kindled in my young self a burning interest in both science and travel. The characters are unforgettable and the book will take you back to an era of courtesy and comfort in a vanished England (albeit one with typical period condescension to non-Anglos). I thought of Doyle while taking a swim at the base of Angel Falls, but sadly was not dive-bombed by a pterodactyl while gazing up at the looming tepui cliff-face overhead.