I recently finish a book called Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff which was recommended by a friend at a Starbucks I frequent. He enjoys World War II books and said this was a winner but not one to be read before bed as it is disturbing. I thought I would take it to the pool to read a little each day but once I started, I had to keep reading.
The book was not disturbing. I expected since it was set in New Guinea during World War II with the Japanese on the island there would be some atrocities described. This was not the case. The book was a riveting story of the second discovery of a lush, green valley and its native inhabitants who are disturbed when a plane crashes in the mountains. The plane’s occupants totaled 24 U.S. Army servicemen and Women’s Army Corps members. Three would survive.
Not only are we taken on a journey of the survivors and their experiences but also that of the natives. Zuckoff provides enough history to place the natives into context and expose us to their beliefs and ideology. As the story progresses you can see how the presence of three Americans and their rescuers impacts the native communities and what changes occur. We also see the changes that occur within the survivors. No longer are they looking at the natives as “savages” but people with large hearts. They come to realize that people are the same no matter where they live and what their backgrounds. We all hold shared basic values.
Zuckoff weaves a lot of military research into the story which I love. He provides excellent notes and a bibliography so those of us who love this type of research can find the records.
I highly recommend Lost in Shangri-La as a summer read. If you have read other similar books, please share those with us.
© 2014, Jennifer Holik, Woodridge, IL