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Lost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II

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“A lost world, man-eating tribesmen, lush andimpenetrable jungles, stranded American fliers (one of them a dame withgreat gams, for heaven's sake), a startling rescue mission. . . . This is atrue story made in heaven for a writer as talented as Mitchell Zuckoff. Whew—what an utterly compelling and deeplysatisfying read!" —Simon Winchester, author of Atlantic   Award-winning “A lost world, man-eating tribesmen, lush andimpenetrable jungles, stranded American fliers (one of them a dame withgreat gams, for heaven's sake), a startling rescue mission. . . . This is atrue story made in heaven for a writer as talented as Mitchell Zuckoff. Whew—what an utterly compelling and deeplysatisfying read!" —Simon Winchester, author of Atlantic   Award-winning former Boston Globe reporter Mitchell Zuckoffunleashes the exhilarating, untold story of an extraordinary World War IIrescue mission, where a plane crash in the South Pacific plunged a trio of U.S.military personnel into a land that time forgot. Fans of Hampton Sides’ Ghost Soldiers, Marcus Luttrell’s Lone Survivor, and David Grann’s The Lost Cityof Z will be captivated by Zuckoff’s masterfullyrecounted, all-true story of danger, daring, determination, and discovery injungle-clad New Guinea during the final days of WWII.


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“A lost world, man-eating tribesmen, lush andimpenetrable jungles, stranded American fliers (one of them a dame withgreat gams, for heaven's sake), a startling rescue mission. . . . This is atrue story made in heaven for a writer as talented as Mitchell Zuckoff. Whew—what an utterly compelling and deeplysatisfying read!" —Simon Winchester, author of Atlantic   Award-winning “A lost world, man-eating tribesmen, lush andimpenetrable jungles, stranded American fliers (one of them a dame withgreat gams, for heaven's sake), a startling rescue mission. . . . This is atrue story made in heaven for a writer as talented as Mitchell Zuckoff. Whew—what an utterly compelling and deeplysatisfying read!" —Simon Winchester, author of Atlantic   Award-winning former Boston Globe reporter Mitchell Zuckoffunleashes the exhilarating, untold story of an extraordinary World War IIrescue mission, where a plane crash in the South Pacific plunged a trio of U.S.military personnel into a land that time forgot. Fans of Hampton Sides’ Ghost Soldiers, Marcus Luttrell’s Lone Survivor, and David Grann’s The Lost Cityof Z will be captivated by Zuckoff’s masterfullyrecounted, all-true story of danger, daring, determination, and discovery injungle-clad New Guinea during the final days of WWII.

30 review for Lost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II

  1. 5 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    Mitchell Zuckoff in Papua New Guinea, next to the wreckage of the Gremlin Special - image from BU Today - photo by Buzz Maxey I bet you watched at least some TV coverage of the rescue of Chilean miners in 2010. The whole world did. In 1945 there was comparable interest in a remarkable rescue. People followed the search and then the rescue attempts for weeks. But a few small events, like the first use of nuclear weapons and the subsequent end of the war, pushed the story out of the public eye. Wh Mitchell Zuckoff in Papua New Guinea, next to the wreckage of the Gremlin Special - image from BU Today - photo by Buzz Maxey I bet you watched at least some TV coverage of the rescue of Chilean miners in 2010. The whole world did. In 1945 there was comparable interest in a remarkable rescue. People followed the search and then the rescue attempts for weeks. But a few small events, like the first use of nuclear weapons and the subsequent end of the war, pushed the story out of the public eye. While researching another project, Mitchell Zuckoff happened across this story, actually located one of the survivors, and has rescued this gripping tale from an undeserved oblivion. In the waning days of World War II, an Army C-47 transport plane takes off from Base G in the town of Hollandia, on the north coast of New Guinea. Aboard is a collection of military personnel, male and female, flying over the island to get a look-see at a remote, newly-discovered but ancient civilization, tucked away between mist-covered mountains and guarded by hundreds of square miles of impenetrable jungle. They call this newly discovered place Shangri-La in honor of the fictional utopia of James Hilton’s Lost Horizon. These excursions are a regular treat. Twenty-four people are on the trip flying in the ill-named Gremlin Special. When it crashes in the jungle only three survive. Known to the Gremlin Special survivors as "Pete," a leader of the village of Uwambo. He was the first native to literally extend a hand of greeting to Margaret Hastings, Kenneth Decker and John McCollom - Image and text from Zuckoff's site 1945 New Guinea is home to a wide range of unpleasant biting creatures and a cornucopia of microscopic bad boys that would make a biologist sing, but might present a challenge to crash survivors, particularly when piled atop the burden of serious injuries. It is a huge island, second largest on Earth, and in addition to its other selling points, it is inhabited by tribes of cannibals still living with Stone Age technology, and, just for fun, thousands of well-camouflaged Japanese soldiers, recently driven inland from the coast. Have a nice day. The personalities read like a Hollywood dream come true. The group includes a beautiful, but tough as nails, damsel-in-distress, a courageous Lieutenant who has to overcome his grief at the loss of his brother and rise to the occasion in order to keep himself and his people alive, a studly, gung-ho paratrooper eager to prove his mettle and recover the survivors, a drunken, disgraced Hollywood film-maker trying to recover his career, daring and chipper Filipino medics and paratroopers, and, of course, a tribe or two of local cannibals, who have discovered fire, but have not yet made it up to the wheel. This is just a fun, fun book to read. Zuckoff does a very good job of giving us a feel for the players here. He spoke to as many as possible, including the Stone Agers. You can feel yourself rooting for this one or that one, and controlling an urge to break out into a few bars of “Bloody Mary.” I particularly enjoyed Zuckoff’s descriptions of the Westerners’ interactions with the natives. Of course we know something about who gets out because the author quotes them to us early on, and he makes no claims to clairvoyance. But there are still plenty of details to be found out. While we know about some of the survivors, we do not know what shape they were in when they got out. There was a harrowing race underway between gangrene and time. It took daring and considerable envelope-pushing to bring ‘em back alive. How they accomplish that seems amazing, even now. There are a few fun facts here as well, such as the derivation of the term “Walkie-talkie.” But just in case you might think this is merely an entertaining, fast, breezy read, there is sub-text that gives one poi for thought. Are the Stone-Agers any different from contemporary people? Are the perpetual wars that the ancient headhunters fight with spears and arrows really so different from the ones fought with guns and atom bombs? Is human nature so determined? Religion enters as well. The native culture tells of spirits from the sky. It sounded like time-travelers or aliens to me, but it does raise a question of people’s need for something to believe in, whether that belief is held by primitives living in remote jungles, or sophisticates living in modern cities. If you can find your way to the bookstore, there is no doubt that you will lose yourself in Lost in Shangri-La. You will not want to leave. =============================EXTRA STUFF Zuckoff's later book, Frozen in Time, another lost/rescue book, is also worth a look. The mystery of one of the most famous missing persons has been solved. The features a piece on what actually happened to Michael Rockefeller

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    "The cabin crumbled forward toward the cockpit. The walls of the fuselage collapsed as though sucked inward. Both wings ripped away. The tail section snapped off like a balsa-wood toy. Flames shot through the wreckage. Small explosions rang out like gunshots. Black smoke choked off the light. The air grew bitter with the stench of burning metal, burning leather, burning rubber, burning wires, burning oil, burning cloths, burning hair, burning flesh." It wasn't easy getting a seat on the Greml "The cabin crumbled forward toward the cockpit. The walls of the fuselage collapsed as though sucked inward. Both wings ripped away. The tail section snapped off like a balsa-wood toy. Flames shot through the wreckage. Small explosions rang out like gunshots. Black smoke choked off the light. The air grew bitter with the stench of burning metal, burning leather, burning rubber, burning wires, burning oil, burning cloths, burning hair, burning flesh." It wasn't easy getting a seat on the Gremlin Special to fly over this mystical valley they'd heard such intriguing reports about. It was a good mix of young men and women who were excited about the prospect of joining a select group of people who have been allowed to see Shangri-La. The more experienced pilot was back in the cabin area probably answering questions and flirting with the pretty girls. One of the women had taken the pilot's seat up front to enjoy the view. When the co-pilot experiences trouble the plane hits the side of the mountain before anyone can even react. Out of the twenty-four people on board three survive. Thus begins a tale of survival and the search to find them. A world weary of war news starting following the news articles about the search with avid attention. The military quickly realized this was an opportunity for wonderful PR and blessed their lucky stars that one of the survivors just happened to be a beautiful young WAC named Margaret Hastings. Margaret Hastings To add to the poignancy of the story one of the survivors John McCollom lost his twin brother Robert in the crash. The world wanted these people brought back safely. Little was known of the tribesmen that inhabited this valley. They had been relatively "untainted" by civilization. They still used bows and arrows and stone axes. They had not invented the wheel, but did understand and use fire. They didn't really have any organized religion, but did fear the spirits of their ancestors. To appease these spirits they would cut off the digits of a female family member. It was not unusual for a woman by the time she reached adulthood to have nubs for fingers on her right hand. Luckily for the survivors the tribes people did not see them as a threat, but merely as a curiosity. Margaret did have to keep track of her hands as the tribes people did attempt to help her grieve for her fallen companions by hacking off a few of her digits. Tribesman sporting his penis gourd "They are wonderful carefree people. Living in a land of perpetual summer, they never worry about their next meal." The army sends in Filipino paratroopers lead by Captain C. Earl Walter Jr. to find the survivors. It is a tricky jump, with a thick jungle canopy, the green only broken by bone breaking rock structures. To make the jump even more hazardous they had to come out of the plane at a very low altitude with chutes deployed. If something went wrong they would have no time to deploy a reserve chute. The survivors did not escape unscathed. Hastings has deep burns on her legs. Decker has a shattered elbow, a deep slice to his head, and badly burned buttocks. McCollom fortunately only sustained a broken rib. Gangrene has started to set into their wounds and when the Filipino medics arrived they felt some hope that they might survive their wounds. Margaret Hastings with her Filipino Medics Corporal Camilo "Rammy" Ramirez and Sergeant Benjamin "Doc" Bulatao I'm not going to be a spoiler. You will have to read the book to find out how the military final figures out how to bring them out of that valley. One thing about Americans we are an ingenious bunch. We sometimes put lives on the line to save the few, but for the people lost in that valley they had no doubts that their friends would be coming for them. Zuckoff loads the book with old photographs. (I love old photographs.)What I knew about Papua New Guinea wouldn't have filled up a thimble, but now I know for instance that it is the second largest island in the world after Greenland. Bring on Trivia Pursuit. Decker, Hastings, and McCollom If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kemper

    I have said it before, and I'll say it again: The jungles of the earth must be DESTROYED. * * Before you break your fingers on your keyboard in your haste to flame me for that comment take a moment to ask yourself if I might be joking. In the last months of World War II as America worked its way towards Japan a plane load of military personnel took off for a sightseeing tour of a remote valley in New Guinea that had been dubbed Shangri-La. Previous flights had noted tribes of natives numbering in I have said it before, and I'll say it again: The jungles of the earth must be DESTROYED. * * Before you break your fingers on your keyboard in your haste to flame me for that comment take a moment to ask yourself if I might be joking. In the last months of World War II as America worked its way towards Japan a plane load of military personnel took off for a sightseeing tour of a remote valley in New Guinea that had been dubbed Shangri-La. Previous flights had noted tribes of natives numbering in the thousands, but the terrain prevented visits and viewing them from the air had become a treat for bored service men and women. Unfortunately, this trip turned deadly when the plane crashed and killed almost all the passengers. The survivors had serious injuries and were trapped in a thick mountain jungle. They were also surrounded by natives who had never met anyone outside their valley and had a culture based on constantly warring on each other. After the survivors were spotted by rescue planes the immediate problems of treating their injuries and protecting them from potentially hostile natives became focus. A squad of gung-ho Filipino paratroopers led by a frustrated American captain volunteered to parachute down to deal with the immediate problems with no idea of how they’d be getting back out. After they dropped in weeks passed in Shangri-La as the crash survivors were treated and guarded by the paratroopers. Since they were resupplied by air and in radio contact with the overhead planes the survivors and the paratroopers became instant celebrities, especially a pretty WAC named Margaret Hastings who got dubbed the ‘Queen of Shangri-La’ by the press. As the world watched the army tried to figure out a way to get them out of the incredibly inaccessible valley. What they came up with for a rescue plan was so bat-shit crazy that it defies belief. This was entertaining and exciting pop history about a story that was huge in its time but had been forgotten as the end of WWII overshadowed it. Zuckoff does a good job of telling a compelling tale and relaying the history of the people involved to make you care what happened to them. He also gives an interesting anthropological account of the native tribes as well as tracking down some who were still living to get their version of how the strange incident played out.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    The story is compelling enough: a U.S. army plane crashes in a remote, inaccessible part of New Guinea killing nearly everyone on board. Three people survive, two men and a woman. Two are severely injured. They need to trek through the jungle to a clearing, so they can be spotted and rescued. Rescuers will have a tough time not only getting in, but due to the geographic problems, getting them out will be near impossible. Did I mention that the area is inhabited by war-like Stone-Age cannibals? I The story is compelling enough: a U.S. army plane crashes in a remote, inaccessible part of New Guinea killing nearly everyone on board. Three people survive, two men and a woman. Two are severely injured. They need to trek through the jungle to a clearing, so they can be spotted and rescued. Rescuers will have a tough time not only getting in, but due to the geographic problems, getting them out will be near impossible. Did I mention that the area is inhabited by war-like Stone-Age cannibals? I didn’t. Sorry. The area is inhabited by war-like Stone-age cannibals. What would have been a nice magazine article has been blown up to book size. Over-gilding an obvious lily by stretching out the story, amping up the dramatic tension that doesn’t need amping, and addressing events with dramatic potential and then forgetting about elaborating on them (Weren’t they life-threatening or at least limb-losing wounds? How’d they get better?) or letting the reader in on how they were resolved. The book follows what seems like the current approach to non-fiction “events” (at least the books I’ve read). Start off with the event in progress, then backtrack to the beginning and recount the events as they unfold. As a relevant player is introduced, info-dump a chapter bio: Benito Mussolini, born in 1883, liked goose-stepping, fascism, dressing in black and making his toy trains run on time. He had a pet ferret named Romulus…. Also drag the pace down by including info dump chapters on other “relevant” topics to bring your “article” up from a pamphlet to book size. For all of my kvetching, the book isn’t horrible. It’s an interesting-true-to-life story that just didn’t need to get juiced quite as much as it did. Sexist pig bonus questions: Ladies, when you are laid low with burns and gangrenous wounds, at the sight of a hot guy, does your libido go on over drive? Are you ready to forget your pain and suffering and get it on? Yeah, that’s what I thought. The author, and the lead rescuer, seemed concerned that the female survivor would turn the situation into some randy, jungle orgy and discouraged his charges from flirting, lest he end up with a pregnant rescuee.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    How is this not a Hollywood epic movie? WWII Plane crash in the jungle; survivors include a beautiful, plucky, injured WAC; Stone Age lost civilization; rescue mission by paratroopers; tabloid exploitation by news media and government; impending loss of “innocence” as the modern world intrudes into “Shangri-La”. All of it true and expertly covered in the Four Star Lost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War IIa. Highly recommended. How is this not a Hollywood epic movie? WWII Plane crash in the jungle; survivors include a beautiful, plucky, injured WAC; Stone Age lost civilization; rescue mission by paratroopers; tabloid exploitation by news media and government; impending loss of “innocence” as the modern world intrudes into “Shangri-La”. All of it true and expertly covered in the Four Star Lost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War IIa. Highly recommended. Shortly after three o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday, May 13, 1945, Major George Nicholson’s desperate struggle to gain altitude ended. The distance between the C-47 and the unforgiving terrain closed to zero. To the earsplitting din of metal twisting, glass shattering, engines groaning, branches snapping, fuel igniting, bodies tumbling, lives ending, the Gremlin Special plunged through the trees and slammed into the jungle-covered mountainside. This was a sight-seeing tour gone horribly wrong. Zuckoff and the Army avoid placing blame for the accident directly on the pilots, citing possible downdrafts, mechanical problems, high altitude, etc. (view spoiler)[BS! The direct cause of the accident was the pilot-in-command, Col Prossen left his seat to chat up the pax in the back, leaving his inexperienced copilot Maj Nicholson to fly and navigate in an area neither he or the Colonel had ever flown in. Mountain flying is inherently dangerous and Nicholson ensures the coming crash by descending to low level in a small valley to buzz the natives and give the passengers a better view. There was no way to turn around or climb fast enough to clear the approaching ridgeline. Twenty-one people died because of a stupid miscalculation, no excuse for it. (hide spoiler)] Six people survive the crash but 3 perish from subsequent explosions or injuries. The remaining 3 survivors, one injured female corporal, a badly injured sergeant and an unscathed lieutenant have to fight for survival stranded in a remote jungle paradise. They trek down the mountain, into the unknown. How they are found and rescued is an exciting tale. They meet the local natives, who I found fascinating. This is not an idyllic paradise, there is danger at every step. The potential for cultural misunderstanding is always there. The tribes regularly war against each other and women, children and the elderly are not exempt. The rescuers include an American captain eager to get a combat assignment and his men, Filipino soldiers, anxious to get into the fight to liberate the Phillippines. You will get to really like these soldiers, so young and brave. With the remote crash location, there is no easy way to recover the survivors. The news media get wind of the story and build up a story worthy of any tabloid. All the elements for Page One story after story are there. One even parachutes into the valley to chronicle the rescue. The best result is a treasure trove of great pictures. In the end, the rescue takes place. Sadly, the undiscovered valley becomes the target of future exploration and adventurers. I was sad to see the modern world impose itself on the valley inhabitants. The result was perhaps inevitable. I highly recommend this exciting tale from WWII.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    The only regret I have about reading Lost in Shangri-La now is that I can't put it on a library best list until December 2012. It was that good! You'd think with all the stories written with regards to World War II that all had been told. And then along comes another and you're amazed that you never heard anything about this one. Lost in Shangri-La is such a story. On Sunday, May 13, 1945, Colonel Peter Prossen planned a special outing for some of his staff, a flight to view a remote valley known The only regret I have about reading Lost in Shangri-La now is that I can't put it on a library best list until December 2012. It was that good! You'd think with all the stories written with regards to World War II that all had been told. And then along comes another and you're amazed that you never heard anything about this one. Lost in Shangri-La is such a story. On Sunday, May 13, 1945, Colonel Peter Prossen planned a special outing for some of his staff, a flight to view a remote valley known as Shangri-La. This remote area of New Guinea had been spotted by Colonel Ray T. Ellsmore. It was a break in the jungle he described as "a riot of dazzling color".Thirty miles long and eight miles wide it revealed lush land and tens of thousands of native peoples living in villages with gardens, irrigation systems, dams and drainage ditches. Unable to land, Ellsmore was nonetheless enthralled with what he had seen and told all who would listen about it. It became the place to fly over thus Colonel Prossen's idea of a gift to his hard working staff. An opportunity not to be missed by the twenty-four servicemen and women who boarded that fateful day. What started out as somewhat of a joy ride turns tragic when the plane crashes leaving all but three dead. The army makes an all out search for the missing plane. When it is learned there are survivors, it becomes a story of a rescue mission that is as awe inspiring as as it is heroic. Three survivors, Corporal Margaret Hastings, Tech Sergeant Kenneth Decker, and Lieutenant John McCollom, see Shrangri-La in a way they never dreamed. Injured and disoriented they must find their way to help. Their journey is quite an adventure. Though much of the book deals with the survival of the three, Zucker gives due respect to each of the passengers and crew who died in the crash. Then, we too are taken along for a glimpse of a world that time had forgotten as the survivors sidestep Japanese troops and meet the tribes rumored to be headhunters. It is absolutely fascinating.

  7. 4 out of 5

    ♥ Sandi ❣

    3.75 stars This is the type of non fiction book that I really enjoy. It read like a fiction story - not dry, and not fact after fact. You met and had time to learn about each character, time to understand the plot and take in the overall story line. The author narrated the audio and did a great job. This book tells the story of the Gremlin Special that went down in New Guinea in May 1945 with 24 people aboard. Three people lived. This is their story - how they survived, how they traveled and how 3.75 stars This is the type of non fiction book that I really enjoy. It read like a fiction story - not dry, and not fact after fact. You met and had time to learn about each character, time to understand the plot and take in the overall story line. The author narrated the audio and did a great job. This book tells the story of the Gremlin Special that went down in New Guinea in May 1945 with 24 people aboard. Three people lived. This is their story - how they survived, how they traveled and how they were rescued. This was not a military flight with any purpose other than putting to rest the gossip about a full village of New Guinea natives that were situated on the island and never before discovered. This was a sight-seeing joyride in a C-47 Army work horse equipment plane. Rumor said there were cannibals on the island. Once this village was found - down in a valley surrounded by mountains with barely a path over them to fly - everyone wanted to see it for the proof that it was really there. Twenty four people rode in the Gremlin, only three came back. Between the Japanese enemy, that were also on the island, and the head hunters believed to live there, the path taken by the injured is covered, as is the rescue attempt. The book is full of pictures, a survivors diary and great narratives, remembered by the survivors and the crew that risk their lives to go in and rescue those that lived. Now in 2020 all the people involved are dead - the three plane crash survivors and the large rescue crew that dangerously para shooted in with no way out at the time.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jessaka

    If you like pork and sweet potatoes maybe you would have liked living among the New Guinea natives back in the 30s or 40s, or if you liked tropical jungles that look like paradise, you may love living in one, but you would also have to worry about jungle rot, malaria, elephantiasis, and dengue fever just to mention a few. I rather wished that I lived in the jungle, but a tame one without jungle rot… Well, the first chapter put me in a deep funk, which was totally unexpected. All I knew about the If you like pork and sweet potatoes maybe you would have liked living among the New Guinea natives back in the 30s or 40s, or if you liked tropical jungles that look like paradise, you may love living in one, but you would also have to worry about jungle rot, malaria, elephantiasis, and dengue fever just to mention a few. I rather wished that I lived in the jungle, but a tame one without jungle rot… Well, the first chapter put me in a deep funk, which was totally unexpected. All I knew about the story was that in May of 1945, twenty-four army men and women, who were stationed on the beach of New Guinea, wanted to take a pleasure trip over the island. Their plane crashed and only three survived. Actually two others had survived for a while. This true story began by introducing us to the lives of the people onboard that plane. Margaret Hastings was one of the women. As I read the brief story of her life up until then, I thought of my sister who grew up in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, and I thought of how Margaret’s life was like hers but had been cut short. That was when I felt a deep sadness of a young life being cut short. Then I learned that Margaret was okay. She was one of the three survivors. Margaret “grew up in Owego and bicycled to the local swimming hole, hitchhiked when she wanted to explore beyond the village, did well in school, and read books.” Well, now that I think of it, I explored while bike riding and read books, not my sister. Margaret also dated a young soldier and spent time with him on the beach, and that is when I actually thought of my sister, her dating soldiers from Camp Roberts, going to the beach but having to take me and my sister along with her because she was our babysitter. Like Margaret’s swimming hole, my sister used to take us out to someone’s ranch and we all sneaked into their hot spring pool during the night. When Margaret survived the plane crash her legs were severely burned, so she feared losing them. The other four were not doing well either. Gangrene. Severe injuries. And I will leave it up to others to read the book because from that moment on their life in the jungle became precarious but exciting to me because I love survival stories. The natives finally found and took them in, but that came with a great price to those natives, as it always does. They had a legend called Uluayek. “It told of spirits that lived in the sky over the valley, and of a vine that hung down to the ground. Long ago, according to the Uluayek legend, the valley people and the sky spirits climbed up and down the vine to visit one another. Some said that the sky spirits had long hair and light skin and eyes. Some said that they had hairy arms they kept covered. No one knew for sure, because the spirits had stolen pigs and women, and the people of the valley had cut the vine, ending contract. The Uluayek legend claimed that one day the sky spirits would replace the vine and climb down again. The spirits’ return would herald the End of Days.” Their way of life had ended for soon the light skinned people came and mined for gold and copper, and then the loggers came to cut down their trees. Even the missionaries came because they believed that the natives needed Christ and morals. Now, today, the natives have AIDs and are hungry and living in poverty. Elderly natives walk down the streets begging for change and cigarettes and pose for photos. The natives “look lost.”

  9. 4 out of 5

    Joy D

    Non-fiction written as a compelling narrative of the survivors of a plane crash in “Shangri-La” (named after the valley in the James Hilton novel Lost Horizon) in Dutch New Guinea near the end of WWII. Faced with limited food and serious injuries, not to mention the perils of the jungle, the survivors must find a way to get rescued or face travel over hundreds of miles of dense forest filled with warring natives and Japanese in hiding. Once they were discovered missing, the U.S. military had to Non-fiction written as a compelling narrative of the survivors of a plane crash in “Shangri-La” (named after the valley in the James Hilton novel Lost Horizon) in Dutch New Guinea near the end of WWII. Faced with limited food and serious injuries, not to mention the perils of the jungle, the survivors must find a way to get rescued or face travel over hundreds of miles of dense forest filled with warring natives and Japanese in hiding. Once they were discovered missing, the U.S. military had to find them, and figure out how to get them back under extremely perilous circumstances. Zuckoff has done his research, including recently discovered journals, military accounts, a visit to the crash site, and interviews with many participants (and family members). He writes an interesting story, sticking to the facts, giving enough background to set the context without ever straying too far afield. I cared about the people and was interested to find out what happened to them. He also honors those who died. The numerous historical photos were a bonus. My favorite parts: • The development of the relationship between the native people, rumored to be hostile, and the survivors and soldiers – their interactions could have gone awry very easily • The anthropological information about these isolated native people, what their lives were like, how they viewed the outsiders, why they acted as they did – this was all based on research and interviews with the native people involved – I found it fascinating • The ingenuity and creative thinking employed throughout the rescue attempt Content includes descriptions of painful injuries, death, and rituals surrounding tribal warfare. Recommended to those with an interest in anthropology, the history of WWII, or stories of survival under extreme conditions.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cheri

    Lost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival has been on my TBR list ever since I read I read Zuckoff’s Frozen in Time, and while the two have very different paths, there’s a commonality in their stories, somewhat similar to Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken: A World War II Book of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. All three stories will leave you in awe of the strength of these men and women’s spirits, their will to not only survive but especially in Lost in Shangri-La, how their spirits thrive Lost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival has been on my TBR list ever since I read I read Zuckoff’s Frozen in Time, and while the two have very different paths, there’s a commonality in their stories, somewhat similar to Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken: A World War II Book of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. All three stories will leave you in awe of the strength of these men and women’s spirits, their will to not only survive but especially in Lost in Shangri-La, how their spirits thrive despite unbelievable odds. While James Hilton’s Shangri-La survivors may have found a paradise of sorts, Zuckoff’s Shangri-La is much more grim, the environment less welcoming, at best, and unforgiving much of the time. There is no one guiding them back to the palatial standards one associates with Shangri-La of Lost Horizon. Even though they face tough odds, a hostile environment and extremely painful injuries, they are all determined to maintain an outlook that is beyond merely positive. Inspiring and educational.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Walsh

    "Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II","Mitchell Zuckoff". A great, true, little known adventure and rescue story which occurred during the closing days of WW2. The detail and meticulous research more than 60 years later is amazing, as were the photos, diaries and war records the author was able to gather. He even interviewed some of the natives who were still alive, and witnessed what happened, and had never seen a white "Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II","Mitchell Zuckoff". A great, true, little known adventure and rescue story which occurred during the closing days of WW2. The detail and meticulous research more than 60 years later is amazing, as were the photos, diaries and war records the author was able to gather. He even interviewed some of the natives who were still alive, and witnessed what happened, and had never seen a white person before, thinking they were gods. Having hiked in the area and slept in native huts, I tried to be impartial in my rating. The story takes place in 1945 when the war in the Pacific is nearing an end. The setting is in what was Dutch New Guinea where some USA military were stationed. While flying over mountainous, unknown region, an officer was astounded to view a large valley nestled between the ranges which was not marked on any maps. Below him he saw neat, fenced villages with sophisticated, terraced vegetable gardens with irrigation, where about 100,000 stone-aged tribal people lived. No landings were made because it seemed impossible to find area for landing strip, danger from the invading Japanese army, and the natives were thought to be savage cannibals and head-hunters. The army started conducting sight-seeing tours to see this uncharted, amazing sight from the air. Unknown to them in 1945, the place they called Shangri-La (now known as the Baliem valley)had been sighted by plane in 1938 followed by an expedition, but still most natives had never seen a white man or woman. A plane with 24 military passengers took off on what was supposed to be a 3 hour sight-seeing tour. The passengers included 9 military women (WAC's). It crashed in the mountains and only 3 people survived. These were a young army lieutenant whose identical twin brother died in the crash, a pretty WAC officer with badly burned feet and legs, and a sergeant with terrible head injuries and burns. The later two soon developed gangrene in their injuries. They had no food, water, or medical supplies and were stranded among what were believed to be head-hunting savages. It seemed like an impossible rescue task. A team of brave Filipino-American paratroopers, including 2 medics volunteered to parachute in, knowing they would be outnumbered over 1000 to 1 by the natives, and might encounter Japanese military. Also food and other necessities were dropped from planes. A colourful cast of characters included military officers trying to figure out the seemingly impossible rescue task as weeks went by, war correspondents, and newspaper reporters, and a drunken film-maker who had been a Hollywood actor until he became a jewel thief. I found this to be a very impressive, non-fiction book. How they were rescued remains incredible,genius but true.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Idarah

    Shangri-La. What exactly is that?! I had always assumed that Shangri-La referred to either the all-girl pop band from the 60s, or was a generic name for seedy motels of questionable repute (ie Andrew McCarthy's very bad TV movie, The Courtyard). I was unexpectedly enlightened when I recently picked up Mitchell Zuckoff's book, Lost in Shangri-La: Escape from a Hidden World, A True Story. Shangri-La was a fictional valley in the Himalayas created by James Hilton in his 1933 novel entitled Lost Hori Shangri-La. What exactly is that?! I had always assumed that Shangri-La referred to either the all-girl pop band from the 60s, or was a generic name for seedy motels of questionable repute (ie Andrew McCarthy's very bad TV movie, The Courtyard). I was unexpectedly enlightened when I recently picked up Mitchell Zuckoff's book, Lost in Shangri-La: Escape from a Hidden World, A True Story. Shangri-La was a fictional valley in the Himalayas created by James Hilton in his 1933 novel entitled Lost Horizon. It was supposed to be the ideal paradise on earth, isolated from the outside world. It was also popularized in the 1937 film adaptation directed by Frank Capra. So it was no surprise when a virtually untouched, beautiful valley deep in Dutch New Guinea was discovered by soldiers stationed at Hollandia Military Base during WWII, and nicknamed Shangri-La. On May 13, 1945, a military airplane carrying 24 officers (male and female) from Hollandia on a sightseeing expedition over the valley, crashes into a mountain base at the entrance of the valley. Thus begins our story. Through eyewitness accounts, newspaper articles, and military documents, Zuckoff pieces together a memorable rescue mission for the remaining three survivors of the crash. After surviving the crash, the officers have to contend with serious injuries, as well as the fierce natives, who are rumored to be cannibals, and who have never before seen people from the outside. Zuckoff gathers first hand statements from descendants of the Logo-Mabel clan, as well as the Filipino-American paratrooper team of eight sent in to rescue. This read like a Hollywood screenplay, and was surprisingly comedic at certain points!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    Lost in Shangri-la tells the true story of the fatal plane crash in May, 1945 of 24 U.S. Army servicemen and WAC's on a pleasure tour of the remote New Guinean jungle with only 3 survivors. This incredible story details their encounter with the local natives, their horrific life-threatening injuries, and the dangerous conditions of the rescue mission while still adding in a bit of humor. Amazing historical read! Lost in Shangri-la tells the true story of the fatal plane crash in May, 1945 of 24 U.S. Army servicemen and WAC's on a pleasure tour of the remote New Guinean jungle with only 3 survivors. This incredible story details their encounter with the local natives, their horrific life-threatening injuries, and the dangerous conditions of the rescue mission while still adding in a bit of humor. Amazing historical read!

  14. 4 out of 5

    A.L. Sowards

    Here’s what I liked about this book: the author did his research and stuck to the facts. If there was snappy dialog, it was from a letter or a diary or an interview. And the characters were interesting. There were the three survivors of the crash: a beautiful, unconventional WAC; a brave leader who just lost his twin brother; a stoic guy with really awesome one-liners. And there was the young paratrooper with something to prove sent to rescue them. The author didn’t make stuff up. But unfortunat Here’s what I liked about this book: the author did his research and stuck to the facts. If there was snappy dialog, it was from a letter or a diary or an interview. And the characters were interesting. There were the three survivors of the crash: a beautiful, unconventional WAC; a brave leader who just lost his twin brother; a stoic guy with really awesome one-liners. And there was the young paratrooper with something to prove sent to rescue them. The author didn’t make stuff up. But unfortunately, the only person the author could interview was the paratrooper, so despite the fantastic potential of reading a story about Maggie, McCollum, and Decker, the storyteller in me felt the tale lacked the details that could have taken it from ho-hum to awesome. I’m glad Zuckhoff didn’t make stuff up, but I guess he needed a time machine to really do the story justice. The book was the right size, it just had too much information on everyone on the periphery and not enough about the survivors doing their surviving. I wanted to know more of what they said to each other, more of how they bonded through their ordeal. And it wasn’t there, because Zuckhoff didn’t know. I thought the author’s writing was good on the sentence and paragraph level, so I’ll probably give his other books a try eventually. Would I recommend it to others? Sure, but there are other WWII survival/rescue books I’d recommend first.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    This book is SO not what I was expecting. A plane goes down in New Guinea in WW2 and only 3 people survive and have to find a way out of the jungle surrounded by cannibals stuck in the Stone Age and perhaps rogue Japanese soldiers. Shouldn't that be exciting? It should, but this book is strangely unemotional, disconnected and boring. What tension the author tries to inject is obviously manufactured. I really wanted to like this book, but it is a strong 1 1/2 stars. This book is SO not what I was expecting. A plane goes down in New Guinea in WW2 and only 3 people survive and have to find a way out of the jungle surrounded by cannibals stuck in the Stone Age and perhaps rogue Japanese soldiers. Shouldn't that be exciting? It should, but this book is strangely unemotional, disconnected and boring. What tension the author tries to inject is obviously manufactured. I really wanted to like this book, but it is a strong 1 1/2 stars.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Peterson

    2021-02-13 Just finished reading the book, though not the endnotes, since they were not referenced within the text. I liked the book, but did not think it outstanding. Very detailed history of this funky incident during the end of WWII in northern New Guinea, where a planeload (21) of WACs and other US military personnel were killed in a sight-seeing accident, except for one WAC and two men. Their survival and rescue by some very brave and skilled paratroopers was quite a story. Interactions with 2021-02-13 Just finished reading the book, though not the endnotes, since they were not referenced within the text. I liked the book, but did not think it outstanding. Very detailed history of this funky incident during the end of WWII in northern New Guinea, where a planeload (21) of WACs and other US military personnel were killed in a sight-seeing accident, except for one WAC and two men. Their survival and rescue by some very brave and skilled paratroopers was quite a story. Interactions with natives who had been thought to be cannibals added some significant spice and anthropology to the story. This very true story confirmed many other reports I have read and heard about regarding military "efficiency." 1. The first plane load of supplies dropped for the survivors, several days after the crash contained no food except: Tomato juice, tomatoes and hershey bars. REALLY! 2. Even though there was good radio communication between the military coordinating the rescue and the survivors and some of the rescue crew on the ground, there were still many screw-ups of supplies dropped but not needed, while much-needed supplies were not dropped, till much later than when they were needed, and some key instructions were not relayed. One time much desired beer was dropped, but at the old crash site, NOT the new camp, a very long and laborious trek away. p. 218, 243 and other places. 3. The military did not find out till well after the whole rescue mission was over (it took over 45 days to complete), that this valley was NOT previously undiscovered, and that another simpler method of extraction of the survivors was possible, per the previous written up account of the years earlier mission to the valley. Perhaps this comment is not fair, considering the instant research capabilities of the internet these days vs. the very difficult wartime, 50 year pre-internet logistics of gaining that type of knowledge back then. But still... the extra cost in terms of: - time - work - costs - risks - ect. of how the rescue was actually accomplished, vs. the potential outlined in the book if the previous expedition to the "Shangri-La" valley's lessons were discovered made me think twice. I would not go nearly as far as one friend's review characterized the book - the story could have been told in 5-6 pages, but was stretched to 300+ with useless details about non-crucial characters. But the author was indeed quite punctilious in naming all names involved in the crash and rescue and going into a high degree of detail about most all the many characters involved. But I would agree that the book could have been shortened in that regard. The many pictures of the survivors, the rescuers, the natives and did add much to the story too. 2021-02-01 Reading this aloud now to my mom. My wife read it a couple years ago at the suggestion of her mom and gave it to my mom, who never got to it, I don't think. My mom is now in a tough spot, with memory loss and physical mobility issues, so reading in a sustained way herself is just about out of the picture. But she sure seems to be enjoying my reading aloud to her... and I am really enjoying it too. We are about 1/3 through so far - at about 100 of the 320 or so pages. The story is pretty harrowing, but very personal too. Learning much about New Guinea, the main setting of this "true story of survival, adventure, ant the most incredible rescue mission of WWII." The story reminds me several others: the huge best-selling book and movie: Unbroken, as well as the much older book Lost Horizons, which was about a fictional Shangri-La and played a significant part of this book. I'll write more when I finish the book, or if I find something beforehand with which I could tease you. But so far, so good - very much looking forward to continuing and finishing this amazing story.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Daren

    As the blurb states, three months before the end of WWII, a military plane on a sightseeing tour (a perk for the Military staff) crashes in a remote and unvisited part of of the Indonesian state of Papua - this is the western half of the main island of Papua New Guinea. At the time, this was under Dutch control, as with all of Indonesia, which became independent immediately after the Japanese surrender - so while this was all happening. The plane was a Douglass DC-3, known during the war as a C- As the blurb states, three months before the end of WWII, a military plane on a sightseeing tour (a perk for the Military staff) crashes in a remote and unvisited part of of the Indonesian state of Papua - this is the western half of the main island of Papua New Guinea. At the time, this was under Dutch control, as with all of Indonesia, which became independent immediately after the Japanese surrender - so while this was all happening. The plane was a Douglass DC-3, known during the war as a C-47 Skytrain, on board were over twenty people, only five of whom survived the impact, and only three the first 24 hours after. These were Lieutenant John McCollom, who lost his twin brother in the crash, Sergeant Kenneth Decker, and WAC (Women's Army Corps) Corporal Margaret Hastings. This is a very factual description of what happened, there is no embellished, no assumed conversation and as such reads a little unusually, but maintains its legitimacy this way. All content is verified and traceable, which makes this remarkable story all the more interesting. Some reviewers were perhaps put off by the somewhat stilted writing style, but for me it wasn't an issue. I found it was a quite exciting read. While the actual events were without doubt written in an exciting manner, there were periods of time where they were simply recuperating from their terrible injuries (gangrene effecting the plane crash survivors as much as their initial injuries), where the book turns to more anthropological writing - how the Americans interpreted the natives, and how the natives interpreted the Americans! There was also content covering the history of the region (as it has actually been explored previously). There are some really interesting aspects to this story, but I won't touch on many, as they would give away large sections of the story, and ruin for a prospective reader, but one of the themes that was carried through much of the text was the lack of recognition given to the Filipino American soldiers who, along with their American leader parachuted in and effected the recovery of the survivors. Particularly the medics, who parachuted directly into to the terribly challenging, but mostly unknown situation to be with the survivors immediately on their discovery. While all of the Filipinos eventually received medals (a Bronze Star for most, the Soldier's Medal for the two medics, and Earl Walter, their Captain - this being the highest non-combat award), the story of the crash and rescue mission was big news, and the Filipinos received only passing mention. As could be imagined, the press went crazy over the Margaret Hastings, and her time trapped in the Valley with the soldiers, and of course the stone-age natives. The natives were Dani and their whole interaction with the soldiers was interesting, and a unnavigable maze of confusion and misunderstanding, right from the start when the soldiers though the natives took them as women (when really they were feeling their clothes, having thought they were covered in mud) through to the belief that they were spirits and not humans at all. On the other side, the Americans took the natives as a peaceable tribe, when in fact the Dani had agreed with the neighbouring tribes that they would not only not attack the spirits, but would not battle each other until they had left. Had the natives considered the soldiers people, they would have been killed in the first few days. What really made this book was the interwoven explanations from the contemporary Dani who explained what the natives side of events were, and explained some of the confusions. Well paced, this had the right balance of background and action, was written in a flowing narrative which made it easy to follow events and progress. 4 stars.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    A plane crashes in WWII New Guinea, and this nonfiction book chronicles the increasingly ludicrous efforts to get them out of the hidden cannibal-infested mountain valley they landed in. It has basically nothing to do with James Hilton's Lost Horizon, the book that invented "Shangri-La"; that place was in Tibet. But with a story this terrific, all a writer has to do is stay out of its way. Zuckoff almost pulls that off...but he can't quite get his boner out of it. Because he can't at all hide his A plane crashes in WWII New Guinea, and this nonfiction book chronicles the increasingly ludicrous efforts to get them out of the hidden cannibal-infested mountain valley they landed in. It has basically nothing to do with James Hilton's Lost Horizon, the book that invented "Shangri-La"; that place was in Tibet. But with a story this terrific, all a writer has to do is stay out of its way. Zuckoff almost pulls that off...but he can't quite get his boner out of it. Because he can't at all hide his crush on pretty survivor Margaret Hastings, which zooms from zero to creep city faster than a plane zooms into a mountain. Let me set the scene for this passage I'm about to quote: Hastings has just stumbled out of the plane wreck. She's terribly burned all over her body, in grave danger for her life, in unknown country, and surrounded by corpses so mangled they'll never be sorted out. Here's what happens next:Margaret pulled off her khaki shirt. After that came her cotton bra. For a moment she was as topless as the native women she'd hoped to see...[then she takes the rest of her clothes off and it goes on for most of a page]...Margaret pulled her pants back on over her naked bottom. She intended to use the panties' silky fabric to make bandages for herself and the other survivors. Zuckoff will bring up Margaret's panties about every other page for the rest of the book. She doesn't even use them as bandages, btw, that doesn't come up again. But her general panty status - does she have underwear on? [No.] How much underwear does she have? [None.] Is new underwear forthcoming? [It is not.] What color would her underwear be, if she had any? [Brown. The army has forbidden white panties because, hanging on a clothesline, they could attract an enemy.] This is a terrific book for people interested in true adventure and survivor stories, or WWII-era ladies' underwear. As a bonus it comes with lots of pictures - the survivors actually documented their experience as it happened, which is amazing - but for some reason they neglected to document the whole underwear situation.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    (Really more 3.5 stars) I thought I was done reading books set in New Guinea but when I was flying home the only book that sounded interesting on my iPad was this story about a plane that crashes into the Baliem Valley of New Guinea during World War 2. I know the Baliem Valley because that is where the Dani people live, and I have read multiple books about them. They are the group Michael Rockefeller photographed before traipsing into the jungle for art, that Peter Mattheiessen wrote about in the (Really more 3.5 stars) I thought I was done reading books set in New Guinea but when I was flying home the only book that sounded interesting on my iPad was this story about a plane that crashes into the Baliem Valley of New Guinea during World War 2. I know the Baliem Valley because that is where the Dani people live, and I have read multiple books about them. They are the group Michael Rockefeller photographed before traipsing into the jungle for art, that Peter Mattheiessen wrote about in the 1960s, that Robert Gardner made a documentary of, that Jared Diamond continues to study to this day (and were a featured element of The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?. I have been immersed in it! The first time one of the WW2 pilots stationed in the South Pacific caught sight of the Baliem Valley, they thought they had found Shangri-La. (They also thought they had "discovered" it despite seeing natives as they flew over). They took an outing one day to show it to more people, including 9 WACs members. Only three people survived the crash, and this book is an account of how they were rescued and the story up to that time. It is well-researched and (sometimes overly) detailed but I had the sense that it would have been better as a magazine-length article than a book. It is much more a story of military problem-solving than New Guinea, but at least the author gives a wide range of perspectives including his own interviews of people living there 60 years later, journals he was allowed to see, government records available through the Freedom of Information Act, and news published at the time. One of the survivors kept a copious journal in shorthand on any scrap of paper she could find, while almost losing her legs to incredible burns and gangrene.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jeremiah

    Lost in Shangri-La is a simple, enjoyable story about a tragic plane crash and a subsequent rescue mission. It's a little slow at the start but after initial character introductions it's a smooth read. The prose is straightforward, effective, and doesn't contain overwhelming details; just enough to engage your imagination (although at some points in the book I wished for more detail about the lives of the natives). This may not be the greatest survival story ever but it's quite an interesting ad Lost in Shangri-La is a simple, enjoyable story about a tragic plane crash and a subsequent rescue mission. It's a little slow at the start but after initial character introductions it's a smooth read. The prose is straightforward, effective, and doesn't contain overwhelming details; just enough to engage your imagination (although at some points in the book I wished for more detail about the lives of the natives). This may not be the greatest survival story ever but it's quite an interesting adventure and overall I really enjoyed this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    I wasn't expecting much from this book. I had read a book similar in location and issue, "Savage Harvest" by a completely different author about Michael Rockefeller going missing many decades ago, but after the events in this book occurred. That book was rather terrible, so I didn't have much hope that this one would be any better. I was completely, 100% wrong. This book is AMAZING. It deals with WWII, which is my all-time favorite historical time to read about, so it rang that bell. It was abou I wasn't expecting much from this book. I had read a book similar in location and issue, "Savage Harvest" by a completely different author about Michael Rockefeller going missing many decades ago, but after the events in this book occurred. That book was rather terrible, so I didn't have much hope that this one would be any better. I was completely, 100% wrong. This book is AMAZING. It deals with WWII, which is my all-time favorite historical time to read about, so it rang that bell. It was about human hubris and bravery and defying the odds, which I also liked. It didn't shy away from the horrible things that happened to "Shangri-La" after it was "civilized". (That part made me hate humanity, just a little.) I have to say, this book strengthened my belief that they just don't make men and women like they used to in the 1930s-1950s. I guess I'm nostalgic for a time I never lived through, but people just seemed MORE then than they do now somehow. Like EVERYone was beautiful and handsome and brave and courageous and willing to do the right thing, rather than the easy thing. Again, I never lived then, so I'm only seeing the time period through rose colored glasses of someone else's making, so I'm sure it wasn't all bravery and beauty. There were ugly things too. I just don't see it. I also probably studiously ignore it, because I see enough ugliness in the here and now. I don't want to see it back then too. I probably couldn't take it. Ok, enough navel-gazing, back to the book! I thought the book moved swiftly. It gave enough background so the reader understood what the people were experiencing and where they were coming from POV-wise, but not so slogged down in tangents that the reader forgot the initial point the author was making. Where he could, the author interviewed those who went through the experience. Where he was unfortunately too late, he interviewed family and friends of the deceased, used letters, newspaper articles, declassified military documents and documents released via FOIA from the Government. He does his best to not put words or thoughts into the mouths of any of the participants, including the natives. He went to Paupa and, via a translator, interviewed the natives and their relatives. He even made restitution for the country of the US of A to a native who lost a pig due to an airdrop gone wrong. The notes were terrific, the bibliography a list of my newly updated TBR and the acknowledgments so good, I actually read them too! I rarely, if ever, read the notes/citations/bibliography/acknowledgments, but these were written so well and the topic was so interesting to me, I wanted to keep reading. I don't know if it was the topic of the Americans crashed and rescued out of a very difficult to reach spot, their interactions with the natives, how they survived, the time period and location of WWII in the Pacific or how it was written, but it all grabbed my attention and refused to let it go. I must read more by this author and honestly, I don't feel the need to read more on the topic, as I feel the author covered it all thoroughly. I would like to read more about the natives though. See how they are faring. I suspect, not too well. "Civilization" has a way of destroying those it civilizes. That seems to be the case here. So sad. Tragic even. If the crash had never happened, could those people living in the valley have avoided the inevitable? I like to think in some parallel universe, they were never discovered and that they are still living their way of life. It wasn't a peaceful way of life, but it seems a lot better than what they are dealing with now. Five huge, got my attention and kept it stars. I HIGHLY recommend this one. There is death and injury, this IS about a plane crash and the aftermath and the natives were cannibals, but it's not in your face or gratuitous. It's very matter of fact and not sensationalized. Fantastic book. My thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins UK, HarperPress/4th Estate/The Friday Project, HarperPress for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Grab some "Color-by-color" hard candies (reds, greens, yellows, and so on), start sucking and start reading this book! Wow--What an adventure ride. My GOD!!! I thought I was waiting to read this book WHY??? I KNEW I wanted to read this book (the first week it was released when I just happened to be in Barnes and Noble and discover it myself 'before' hearing others talk about it).... Why did I wait? I had just read "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand I also read..."Even Silence Has An End" by Ingrid Beta Grab some "Color-by-color" hard candies (reds, greens, yellows, and so on), start sucking and start reading this book! Wow--What an adventure ride. My GOD!!! I thought I was waiting to read this book WHY??? I KNEW I wanted to read this book (the first week it was released when I just happened to be in Barnes and Noble and discover it myself 'before' hearing others talk about it).... Why did I wait? I had just read "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand I also read..."Even Silence Has An End" by Ingrid Betancourt I read "Half the Sky" by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sherly WuDunn -- I've read Holocaust stories (on and off for years) --- (I'm Jewish) -- I had read other wonderful Historical fiction books --- Last being "The Sandcastle Girls"...(another 5 star book) -- which is 'the book' which finally got me to 'open' THIS book! (ok, I allowed myself 'one' day of LIGHT' summer trashy reading first...lol Once I picked Mitchell Zuckoff's book to read --I no longer felt 'guilty' --I only had pure authentic desire to get my hands on it! I was ready! I admit--I never thought it would be THIS good. (important yes....but THIS GREAT???) ----could'n't be both! IT was: Important AND GREAT!!! This story is sooooooooooooooooo damn engaging ---I could not stop reading. (I tried --but couldn't). My poor husband---(he had to make his own dinner last night). I was fine to just "suck-on-some-candy" and keep reading! I love this quote on page 236 by Margaret Hastings: "The term 'savages' hardly applied to such kind, friendly and hospital men as these natives. We could never understand each other's language. But we could always understand each other's hearts and intentions. The greatest miracle that befell McCollom, Decker and me, aside from our escape from death in the crash, was the fact the natives were good and gentle people. Amazing Story!!! ......... And.... Amazing Author for an outstanding well-written book! note: Authors make a huge difference in the world! BIG TIME --(contributing to many people's lives)>>> They sure do for me!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Saleh MoonWalker

    Onvan : Lost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II - Nevisande : Mitchell Zuckoff - ISBN : 61988340 - ISBN13 : 9780061988349 - Dar 384 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2011

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jane Stewart

    Too many extraneous details. Author was not good as the audiobook narrator. This is a true story - a good story. I liked the substance of it. But I’m not sure I liked the things the author chose to put in the story. It was more like journalism than a story. I’ve read other authors who take facts and make them into an engaging story. This one needed some changes if that’s the goal. But I was very engaged during the last 2/3. My complaints: 1. The author did too much background detail on various char Too many extraneous details. Author was not good as the audiobook narrator. This is a true story - a good story. I liked the substance of it. But I’m not sure I liked the things the author chose to put in the story. It was more like journalism than a story. I’ve read other authors who take facts and make them into an engaging story. This one needed some changes if that’s the goal. But I was very engaged during the last 2/3. My complaints: 1. The author did too much background detail on various characters who were not the main characters. It was kind of boring in the beginning. It was hard to keep track of the many characters. Some of the back stories were about people who died in the plane crash. That was a nice thing to do, but it didn’t help the story. He did a back story about women who died at other times and places during World War II - that did not interest me. However I did enjoy his story about the history of gliders starting with Hitler’s use. Although it was a tangent from the main story. 2. I wish the author talked more about the natives and their beliefs and habits. One thing that continues to trouble me: at various times during a female’s life the men chop off her fingers. By the time they are old, some of them have only thumbs left. And they wanted to chop off Margaret’s fingers. She was one of the plane survivors. She got away before they could. Apparently this was a way to appease the gods. The men fought other men with spears. If you don’t have fingers you can’t hold a spear. Was this a way to keep women from having power over men? Another horrible custom of men subjugating women. 3. There are pictures in the paperback book. The author should have made a PDF of those pictures to go with the audiobook. 4. The author should not narrate his own book. He is not a professional narrator. He read it like he was reading an encyclopedia - at times like he wanted to get done with it. At times his voice had a whining quality. DATA: Narrative mode: 3rd person. Unabridged audiobook length: 8 hrs and 32 mins. Swearing language: none. Sexual content: none. Setting: mostly 1945 in Dutch New Guinea. Book copyright: 2011. Genre: nonfiction.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot.... I'm not sure who decided to dub Mitchell Zuckoff's Lost in Shangri-La a thrill ride in the blurb, but I respectfully disagree with the assessment. I mean no offense, but the book put me to sleep on multiple occasions and that's not an experience I associate with heart-pounding, adrenaline inducing excitement. To be clear, I liked the content. There's a certain novelty to the subject matter and I enjoyed digging into a story t Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot.... I'm not sure who decided to dub Mitchell Zuckoff's Lost in Shangri-La a thrill ride in the blurb, but I respectfully disagree with the assessment. I mean no offense, but the book put me to sleep on multiple occasions and that's not an experience I associate with heart-pounding, adrenaline inducing excitement. To be clear, I liked the content. There's a certain novelty to the subject matter and I enjoyed digging into a story that isn't particularly well-known. I felt Zuckoff's research thoroughly detailed and I enjoyed the enthusiasm he had for the story. Unfortunately, I found the telling dry and plodding. Stylistically, the book did nothing for me and that made it incredibly difficult to share in the author's interest and passion. The tone flattens as the story unfolds and takes on a repetitive quality that thoroughly quashed my curiosity and concern for the survivors and their ultimate fate. I'm glad I finished Lost in Shangri-la, but when push comes to shove I don't see myself recommending it to others. Interesting though it is, Zuchoff's telling didn't jump from the page or captivate the imagination and I'm hesitant to put forward a title I forced myself to complete.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    This is the kind of story that if it weren't true would be completely unbelievable. Zuckoff writes well, and the narrative has just the right amount of back story to flesh out a page-turning yarn. This is the kind of story that if it weren't true would be completely unbelievable. Zuckoff writes well, and the narrative has just the right amount of back story to flesh out a page-turning yarn.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    Some stories capture the world’s attention for a few days, then fade into obscurity. Who remembers Baby Jessica, who fell down a well in 1987? How long will it take for the story of the boys trapped in that cave in Thailand to become a trivia question (how many boys, and how long were they in there?) In 1945 papers and newsreels breathlessly covered a story of tragedy, courage, and endurance, including brave paratroopers, a daring rescue, and a plucky heroine with great legs. People couldn’t get Some stories capture the world’s attention for a few days, then fade into obscurity. Who remembers Baby Jessica, who fell down a well in 1987? How long will it take for the story of the boys trapped in that cave in Thailand to become a trivia question (how many boys, and how long were they in there?) In 1945 papers and newsreels breathlessly covered a story of tragedy, courage, and endurance, including brave paratroopers, a daring rescue, and a plucky heroine with great legs. People couldn’t get enough of it. One of John Milton’s most memorable lines is, “They also serve who only stand and wait.” The men and women who managed the massive logistical support systems that sustained operations in World War II did essential work but were rarely recognized for their efforts, which involved a lot more than just standing around. It was hard work under primitive conditions, and at the base in Hollandia, New Guinea, only recently captured from the Japanese, it was performed with the knowledge that thousands of enemy soldiers were still out in there in the jungle. Recreational activities were few, but occasionally something would come up. Sightseeing flights were popular, but since it was against regulations to use aircraft this way, they were usually called training missions. One popular destination for these flights was a remote valley surrounded by high mountains, discovered just a few years before the war. It was forty miles long and eight wide, with an estimated population of up to 120,000, stone-age people rumored to be cannibals. The flights would swoop into the valley to get a look at the people and their villages, everyone would have a good time, and then it was back to winning the war. On May 13, 1945 tragedy struck when a C-47 cargo plane carrying twenty-four people crashed into one of the mountains surrounding the valley. There were only three survivors, each of them injured. Their first task was to struggle down the steep slopes of the mountain to reach the open plain so that they had a chance to be seen by rescuers. After a harrowing descent they finally made it, and found the natives to be friendly and helpful. They were soon spotted by search planes, but the valley had no place a plane could land, so a large scale rescue operation was begun. An officer and two medics, members of a paratroop unit, were dropped, and were able to stop the gangrene which was starting to spread in the survivors’ wounds. At this time in May 1945 the war in Europe had just ended and the dull fog of occupation and repatriation was beginning, while in the Pacific the fighting on Okinawa had been going on for six brutal weeks, with appalling casualties. None of this would provide the kind of uplifting human interest stories that sold newspapers, so the New Guinea rescue operation was just what they were looking for, and readers were given a constant stream of updates and breaking news, much of it apparently manufactured by writers in New York and Chicago. When the valley had first been discovered before the war, a seaplane was used to get in and out with no problems, but the Army didn’t know about that, and decided it was not a workable option. As they looked for another solution and the press’s demands for more information mounted, they decided to allow a filmmaker to parachute in to record the situation. He had never jumped out of a plane in his life, and needed to be well fortified with alcohol to do it, but he managed to land safely. The final plan involved a dangerous contraption to snatch the survivors off the ground one by one and reel them into an aircraft flying overhead. It was a harebrained idea, but somehow it worked, and everyone made it out safely. The villagers’ isolation did not last long. They were soon introduced to the modern world and its alcohol, tobacco, exploitation, and a consumerist society they were unprepared for. Civilization had arrived, and as in so many other places, the results were not pretty. This is an offbeat story, interesting in its details but with no larger significance for the war. The writing is good, and the author researched every aspect of the rescue and the people involved in it. The war was not just combat, and not everyone who served had a glamorous job. Some of them only wanted to do what had to be done and then get home to their families. The people involved in this story were clerks and secretaries and transport pilots for the most part, and even the paratroopers saw no combat action, so the book is also a look at the people who played supporting roles in the grand drama of the war.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    This is one of the most unusual stories from World War II that I have read! In 1945, a plane carrying 24 members of the U.S. military and Women's Army Air Corps crashed in a remote jungle area in Guinea. The three survivors had no food, water, or supplies. Two of them had serious injuries. The area was so inaccessible that the native tribes who were living in primitive conditions there had never seen a white person. Japanese troops also occupied much of the surrounding area. Rescue planes could This is one of the most unusual stories from World War II that I have read! In 1945, a plane carrying 24 members of the U.S. military and Women's Army Air Corps crashed in a remote jungle area in Guinea. The three survivors had no food, water, or supplies. Two of them had serious injuries. The area was so inaccessible that the native tribes who were living in primitive conditions there had never seen a white person. Japanese troops also occupied much of the surrounding area. Rescue planes could not locate them, and it seemed impossible that any plane could even land near there. But the military personnel at their base refused to abandon them. This incredible survival story reads like a novel, but it is true!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Wendi

    Lost In Shangri-La By Mitchell Zuckoff Published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers In Lost In Shangri-La, author Mitchell Zuckoff takes readers on a sensational and extraordinary true-life journey. On May 13, 1954, a C-47 military plane called the Gremlin Special, carrying 24 service men and women on a sightseeing expedition to the fabled valley of “Shangri-La”, crashed deep in the jungle of Dutch New Guinea. Unbelievably, three of the passengers survive: Women’s Army Corps (WAC) Cor Lost In Shangri-La By Mitchell Zuckoff Published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers In Lost In Shangri-La, author Mitchell Zuckoff takes readers on a sensational and extraordinary true-life journey. On May 13, 1954, a C-47 military plane called the Gremlin Special, carrying 24 service men and women on a sightseeing expedition to the fabled valley of “Shangri-La”, crashed deep in the jungle of Dutch New Guinea. Unbelievably, three of the passengers survive: Women’s Army Corps (WAC) Corporal Margaret Hastings, Lieutenant John McCollom, and Sergeant Kenneth Decker. Though gravely injured, Hastings and Decker push themselves beyond the limits of human endurance. By the inspired leadership of McCollom, who despite the loss his twin brother in the crash, rises to challenge after challenge, they make there way to a small clearing where they have a chance of being seen by rescue planes. It is in this clearing, that the three first encounter face-to-face the much-feared natives of the valley. After a tense standoff, contact is finally made; the primitive warrior tribe reluctantly acceptting what they believe to be “spirits” in the outskirts of their village. One challenge thwarted, many yet to overcome. Hastings and Decker are quickly being ravaged by wet gangrene, a complication of their infected burns and wounds. With no possibility of an air rescue and hundreds of miles of impenetrable jungle filled with headhunters, cannibals and hidden Japanese troops, between them and the nearest coast, it will take a miracle for any of them to make it out alive. Lost In Shangri-La is jam-packed with photographs, historical reference and archeological discovery. With a wealth of personal journals, letters, documented statements, film and interviews, Zuckoff masterfully recreates the events of the fateful flight to Shangri-La that made heroes out of some, while changing a people forever. I received this book free from HarperCollinsPublishers as part of their Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Three people survive when a plane goes down in a very remote jungle containing natives at constant war with each other. The problem for the Americans is how to get them out when there is no landing field and the three survivors are unable to walk out because of their injuries. This was very interesting. The author gathered his facts, journals, news clippings, personal letters and assembled them into this story. Committment and good old fashioned ingenuity never ceases to amaze me when they make Three people survive when a plane goes down in a very remote jungle containing natives at constant war with each other. The problem for the Americans is how to get them out when there is no landing field and the three survivors are unable to walk out because of their injuries. This was very interesting. The author gathered his facts, journals, news clippings, personal letters and assembled them into this story. Committment and good old fashioned ingenuity never ceases to amaze me when they make the impossible suddenly possible. It is very inspiring and I love that. The people involved in the crash and the rescue were brought to light in a fascinating way.

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