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Horizon Lost

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Paradise Gained

Lost Horizon by James Hilton 

James Hilton (1900-1954), novelist and Academy Award-winning screenwriter, is perhaps best remembered, if he is remembered at all, for his novel Goodbye, Mr. Chips. It is a shame, really, since Lost Horizon is an especially enjoyable book. Written in the tradition of the best adventure novels, it tells the tale of four people who, by circumstance, end up on the same plane. The plane is hijacked and the group is taken to Tibet where they seek shelter at a lamasery called Shangri-La. As you might guess, the remainder of the tale is concerned with what happens to the group while at this utopia and the changes that overcome them. Hilton tells a very entertaining story, with an eye for exotic detail and the nuances of personalities under stress. It is high adventure for those with low energy. Little is required of the reader, but much is gained. The quote below, despite its fictional context, offers us something to think about in our own day.

“We believe that to govern perfectly it is necessary to avoid governing too much.”

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