Saturday, September 9, 2017

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

"He delivers and rescues,
And He works signs and wonders
In heaven and on earth," -- Daniel 6:27 (NKJV)

My dad loved to tell me stories about flying on sightseeing trips all over northern Europe in U.S. Air Corps bombers after Germany surrendered in World War II. His eyes would light up as he described what it was like to sit in the different seats and to imagine what it would have been like during a bombing mission. His stories brought the war to life the terror of war for me in a way that movies and books don't achieve.

I was impressed, then, to find that Mitchell Zuckoff used the same storytelling style that my dad did to tell the story of this sightseeing flight over New Guinea that went oh so wrong. He starts by taking the time to introduce the people with care in a way that makes them into individuals you feel you know and understand. Next, he gets inside the psychology of a situation to explain what kind of thoughts might have been or had been going on in each person's mind. Finally, he does research in the present to tear away the cobwebs of misapprehensions and misunderstandings so that the reader can also see the situation in objective, rather than subjective, ways. I especially appreciated that Mr. Zuckoff did not duck the responsibility to make observations about what was done correctly . . . and what was not . . . by the people he writes about.

If that weren't enough, Mr. Zuckoff takes the story one step further and provides true suspense about what will happen to those involved. I found that he did it so well that I found myself trying to "solve" the mystery of what was coming next . . . as though I were reading a mystery novel.

My pleasure in reading the book was increased by the many photographs that helpfully illustrated the story.

Realize that this is not a slam-bam adventure story of the kind that has been written about American operations in Afghanistan. If you want lots of action, this story may not appeal to you. It's more of a story about waiting for the right circumstances.

In a way I liked it better than such a high-tension adventure story because it more resembles real life where well-meaning people often have problems and then do their best to sort things out. I think you will find enough surprises in the story to keep your interest high.

For greatest satisfaction, avoid reading any reviews that go into details of what happened. Knowing such facts will steal some of the joy that Mr. Zuckoff has placed in the story for you.

Read on!

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Donald Mitchell. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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