Waldo Emerson Smith-Jones is a blueblood from a reputable Boston family. He is also a weak mama’s boy that has lead a sheltered life. He has devoted his life to academic pursuits and has grown up physically weak and in poor health. He takes a cruise in the south Pacific and is washed overboard and finds himself on a deserted island.
It quickly becomes obvious that Waldo has no practical knowledge to survive. One day he runs into the primitive cave men that inhabit the island. Terrified he runs but is forced to fight when he is cornered and surprises himself when he actually fights them off. Later he meets a beautiful cave girl named Nadara. She has seen his fight and mistakes Waldo’s screams of terror for war cries.
She teaches Waldo basic woodcraft to survive. She convinces him to return to her tribe and that he must fight the strongest man to be accepted. Waldo is terrified and runs off. Later is feels sorry for himself and decides to change. He works out and becomes strong and decides to confront his fears. Earthquakes, brutal cave men, pirates, cannibals and his domineering shrew of a mom come between Waldo before he can reconcile with Nadara.
This is a bit of a departure for Burroughs. Usually his protagonists always start off as perfect, virile specimens of manhood. Waldo is a weakling, a coward and whipped mom’s boy. He actually grows through the story to be a strong self confident man. I thought it added a lot of character to the main protagonist. Its also a fast paced adventure story in the typical tradition of Burroughs.