Title: Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of WWII
Author: Mitchell Zuckoff
Source: from publisher for a TLC Book Tour
Fun Fact: By 1945, New Guinea was home to more missing air planes than any other country on earth.
Review Summary: An incredibly engaging story with a great human element supported by well-integrated primary sources.
Lost in Shangri-La was my first experience with narrative non-fiction and I think I may be in love. For those of you like me who haven’t read narrative non-fiction before, I would describe it as a novel in which personal lives are as well researched as the bigger picture and the whole thing is presented as a story. In this particular story, we learn about a plane crash in New Guinea stranding three service men and women in the jungle with potentially unfriendly natives. Due to their isolated location, finding them in the jungle was only the first challenge. A daring and dangerous rescue mission was then required to get them out.
Thanks to the many primary sources included in the narrative, this reads as much like an adventure novel as a non-fiction account. Unlike my experience with The Universe in a Mirror I never felt like the primary sources broke up the flow of the story. They were incredibly well integrated into the author’s narrative and helped make me feel really invested in the people involved. I also thought it enriched the story that we heard about the crash from the natives and got some explanation of the culture behind their reactions to the survivors. My only complaint with the book is that sometimes these asides about the natives or a new character’s personal history did interrupt the main plot line.
This book was clearly well-researched and answered all the questions I could think of about the people involved. I particularly enjoyed the pictures and the new post-script in the paperback edition I read which included letters from relatives of the people involved. It was fun to get a little extra detail about their lives after the crash and to hear how their adventures were viewed by their families. This was a nice, easy read and I would recommend it to anyone interested in WWII as well as anyone who enjoys adventure novels.
This book review was part of a TLC book tour. If you liked this review, you can find the many other reviews on the tour here, as well as Sophisticated Dorkiness’s review and author interview which initially sparked my interest in this book.