Lost in Shangri-La

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Lost in Shangri-La was an average book. The problem with reading a fascinating historical book, like Unbroken, is that everything afterward of that genre pales in comparison. I made the mistake of going into Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff thinking “wow a World War II story involving a hidden valley and complex rescue mission, this’ll be as unbelievable as Unbroken.” It wasn’t.

I’m not saying Lost in Shangri-la isn’t worth a try. But it’s not a life-changing, perspective altering, crazy addicting read. It’s a somewhat dense fact-laden story that occasionally got bogged down in details that I, an average reader with no aviation experience or military training, didn’t always follow or care about. 

The book focuses on the three survivors of a plane crash in a remote valley in New Guinea and the rescue team that worked to save them. Although the rescue was a difficult feat and the the survivors interactions with the natives of the area (who had previously never had contact with the outside world) was anthropologically significant, the story lacked many “whoa, that’s crazy” moments.

The author doesn’t quite bring make a connection felt between the reader and the characters, which kept me from feeling emotionally invested in the outcome of the book. I liked the characters well enough, but I didn’t love any.

Every once in a while, I’d hit a patch that was great- I’d read and read- then suddenly, it became dry again and I would slow back down. If I could go back in time, I still would have read it, but I don’t foresee more of Zuckoff’s books in my future, since they seem to be written in similar style to this one.

Why I picked it up: As I said before, I thought “wow a World War II story involving a hidden valley and complex rescue mission, this’ll be as unbelievable as Unbroken.”

Why I finished it: This book didn’t live up to my expectations, but it was well-researched and a decent read.

Who I’d recommend it to: History enthusiasts that don’t mind a factual, informative book with some good narrative bits mixed in. 

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