If Lost in Shangri-La
truly was the most incredible rescue mission of World War II, the 1940s must have been a pretty dull decade.
The advertised 'survival'? Three characters walking around in the jungle for six days. 'Adventure' turned out to be meeting the local natives, whom Zuckoff misleadingly hyped as savage cannibals.
Due to the lack of actual plot, Zuckoff is forced to devote dangerously large portions of the book's 384 pages to the relatives of every single major character
. Consequently, you can skip every third paragraph of Lost in Shangri-La
and not miss anything. Even if you choose not to skip sections, the book is over all too quickly. I'd pick it up when I had 15 minutes to spare and blaze through 50 pages at a time.
Nonetheless, Zuckoff deserves some praise. It was interesting to learn about the natives who had never seen a white man (much less a white woman), and the story itself is a feel-good affair that sheds a bit of light on the state of the American military in more peaceful areas of the Pacific. But Lost in Shangri-La
really would have functioned better as a two-hour television special.
But despite my criticism, there's something about Lost in Shangri-La
that makes it an enjoyable read (particularly the epilogue). The heroes of the novel are now very, very old (or have already passed away), and that's a sobering thought. How long will it be until World War II is nothing more than a faded memory?