Friday, November 7, 2014

Book Review: "Lost in Shangri-La" by Mitchell Zuckoff



I just finished reading Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff, and I must say that it was a fascinating read. Zuckoff is a former award-winning Boston Globe reporter who recounts the exciting, and true story of an dangerous World War II rescue mission, where a plane crash drops three members of the U.S. military straight in the land that time forgot. With two of the survivors seriously injured, and a third mourning the loss of his twin brother in the same crash, the unlikely trio are stranded deep in the jungle with little food, water, or protection from the potential brutality of the cannibalistic tribes that inhabit the jungle. It's a compelling tale of survival and bravery that makes for an exciting read from beginning to end.

One of the things that I loved about Zuckoff's book was the way that he brought the story and the character's to life. It isn't a straight "non-fiction here are the facts" type book. Zuckoff goes to great lengths to make the story personal by presenting a backstory for each person in the book. His in-depth research provided insight into the pre-crash lives, as well as the post-crash lives of all involved. Zuckoff brings the ghosts of the past back to life in his book, and provides some fascinating insight, not just into the U.S. Military personnel involved, but also the native tribes they encounter. By the end of the book, I felt like I knew the three stranded individuals the way that one knows an old friend.

This isn't the first book by Mitchell Zuckoff that I've read. I had the pleasure earlier this year of reading Frozen in Time, another tale of peril and rescue during World War II. Zuckoff seems to have an affinity for World War II plane crashes.

As for Lost in Shangri-La, I would highly recommend it. It is compelling, exciting, and riveting tale that is well worth the time. The detailed examination of the cultural differences between the survivors and the jungle natives is fascinating, and adds the occasional well-placed humor to the tale. If you are looking for an enjoyable non-fiction book to round out your reading pleasure, I would highly recommend this one.

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