Review: Lost Horizon

Lost Horizon Book Cover Lost Horizon
James Hilton
Harper Collins
1933
Hardcover
241

While attempting to escape a civil war, four people are kidnapped and transported to the Tibetan mountains. After their plane crashes, they are found by a mysterious Chinese man. He leads them to a monastery hidden in "the valley of the blue moon" -- a land of mystery and matchless beauty where life is lived in tranquil wonder, beyond the grasp of a doomed world.

The classic mountain fiction novel.

If you define mountain fiction as a story that is fictional and can’t be removed from the mountains without irreparably changing it, then consider trying to put Shangri-La (the mountain pass) and the valley somewhere else, such as an isolated island. It just doesn’t work. This story is as tied to the mountains as anything told since.

This book should have five stars for it’s power and voice, but since the focus is not entirely on mountains, it gets four.

During the WWII era, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt originally named the presidential retreat Shangri-La after the mythical mountain region described by Hilton and told press that the Doolittle Raid, the first allied incursion on Japan, came from Shangri-La. However, the notoriety of this book stemmed from the fact that it was one of the first paperbacks and enjoyed a wide distribution. It is a great story and a must read.