Monday, June 24, 2013

Mitchell Zuckoff's "Lost in Shangri-La"

Mitchell Zuckoff's adventure non-fiction "Lost in Shangri-La" is an unputdownable book that chronicles the true survival story of American soldiers during WWII. Those soldiers got lost in the dense forest of New Guinea while going for an aerial visit to the beautiful and forbidding "lost land" dubbed "Shangri-La". Their plane crashed and all but three soldiers - one female and two male soldiers - survived the crash. How these three people manage to live off scanty resources, weather the conditions, make do with horrible wounds, befriend the natives, wait for the rescue mission and ultimately get rescued builds up to a compelling narrative from start to end. The cultural encounter with the natives has been presented in a wonderful manner. American soldiers had heard that these natives were cannibalistic savages but they turn out to be helpful and peaceful people who try their best in easing the survivors' ordeal. Thinking that the white people were spirits who came down from the sky, the natives treat them with fear at the beginning but later begin accepting them. With the wit and endurance of Lieutenant McCollom, the survivors manage to ultimately get safe passage to home. Zuckoff has shown that he has conducted a painstaking research into the subject matter and has presented his research findings dexterously in words that evoke vivid images of the land. This story is a pleasant diversion from the violent narrative of the World War. A good read.   

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