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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

LOST HORIZON by James Hilton

Originally published in 1933.

The dust jacket from the original
hardcover printing in 1933.
Lost Horizon was the first novel published under the label Pocket Books (Pocket Book #1) and was one of the best-selling novels of the 20th century. My copy of this book was published in 1966 and it says it is part of the 62nd printing by Pocket Books.

The story starts in Afghanistan where a local rebellion has caused the British government to evacuate all 80 of the white residents via airplane. The last airplane out is a high performance luxury airplane carrying just 4 passengers. Turns out, their pilot is a hijacker armed with a pistol and he takes them far off course into modern-day Tibet. They have a very rough landing on a high mountain glacier and the hijacker dies.

The four survivors start to walk across the glacier but are soon discovered by a party from a nearby monastery called Shangri-La. They are escorted back the monastery and settle in for a long wait for the next supply party to work it's way up to the monastery. But, that's not a problem because this monastery is on the edge of a hidden lush and beautiful valley full of people that seems to have been forgotten by time.

And that's not all this valley is hiding.

I am rating this book 3 stars out of 5. Despite it's tremendous reputation, I found it to be quite slow and more than a little anti-climactic. I found the introduction to the novel in the inside of the front cover to be more interesting than the actual novel. For example, the name Shangri-La was entirely made up for this book and has since entered the English language as another word for a remote, exotic, earthly paradise.

Multiple editions of this novel can be found on Amazon.com here: Lost Horizon by James Hilton.

I did like this quote from the book: "People make mistakes in life through believing too much, but they have a damned dull time if they believe too little."

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