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Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most… (edition 2011)

by Mitchell Zuckoff

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987658,696 (3.76)93
Member:DarienHighSchool
Title:Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II
Authors:Mitchell Zuckoff
Info:Harper (2011), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 400 pages
Collections:New Books for November 2012
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Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff

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On May 13, 1945, a C-47 carrying 24 officers, soldiers and WACs disappeared on sight seeing flight over the mountainous jungles of New Guinea. The purpose of the trip was to fly over a mysterious valley known as Shangri-La because it seemed to be impossible to actually enter it by normal means including landing an airplane. The plane crashed on the top of a hill killing 21 of the passengers and crew. WAC Margaret Hastings, Lieutenant John McCollum, and Sergeant Kenneth Decker survived the crash.

After waiting a few days, they decided to walk out to the Valley they had flew to see before they crashed. That trip is an epic one of survival and when they reach the valley floor, they meet Dani tribesmen who are mostly naked but for a gourd they wear on their penis. The women only wear skirts. These tribesmen are constantly at war with other tribes in the valley and they look on the newcomers with suspicion.

The remainder of the book is about the search for the missing aircraft, the eventual discovery and rescue the survivors. Part of the story is also the relationship that developed amongst the survivors and the Dani. ( )
  lamour | Jul 9, 2015 |
Interesting story about the survivors of a crash into the jungles of New Guinea and the Armies efforts to retrieve them. Does discuss their meeting with the natives and both their and the native's reactions to each other. Rescue mission complete with paratroopers and gliders. While this story attracted a lot of attention while it was happening it dropped off the radar as the war ended. I'm glad the author has preserved it here. =) ( )
  Chris_El | Mar 19, 2015 |
I really enjoyed this book. It is about an US Army plane that went down in a remote valley in New Guinea. This is the story of the 3 survivors, and the mammoth undertaking to extract them, but more importantly it is about their contact with a native tribe that had no previous exposure to non-locals. The book offers insights into the inner workings of the Dani tribe. ( )
  CeliciaS | Mar 15, 2015 |
I picked this book up as an Audible.com Daily Deal and got way more than my money's worth. It tells the story of a plane full of site-seeing military folks who crash into a hidden valley in New Guinea and come in contact with an unknown, secluded civilization who haven't even invented the wheel yet. What I found most interesting about this story is that the author, who also doubles as the narrator, was able to go to the valley and interview natives who were children at the time to ask them to tell the story from their own point of view. Imagine being able to communicate with someone whose father was shaking a spear at an airplane and asking what they were all thinking. Amazing! ( )
  spounds | Sep 30, 2014 |
Lost in Shangri-La was my first experience with narrative non-fiction and I think I may be in love. For those of you like me who haven’t read narrative non-fiction before, I would describe it as a novel in which personal lives are as well researched as the bigger picture and the whole thing is presented as a story. In this particular story, we learn about a plane crash in New Guinea stranding three service men and women in the jungle with potentially unfriendly natives. Due to their isolated location, finding them in the jungle was only the first challenge. A daring and dangerous rescue mission was then required to get them out.

Read more here... ( )
  DoingDewey | Jun 29, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 64 (next | show all)
Polished, fast-paced and immensely readable—ready for the big screen.
added by Shortride | editKirkus Reviews (Jan 15, 2011)
 
Mitchell Zuckoff’s “Lost in Shangri-La” delivers a feast of failures — of planning, of technology, of communication — that are resolved in a truly incredible adventure. Truly incredible? A cliché, yes, but Zuckoff’s tale is something a drunk stitches together from forgotten B movies and daydreams while clutching the bar. Zuckoff is no fabulist, though, and in this brisk book he narrates the tense yet peaceful five weeks during 1945 that three plane crash survivors spent immersed “in a world that time didn’t forget. Time never knew it existed.” Even at the level of exposition, the book is breathless.
 
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On a rainy day in May 1945, a Western Union messenger made his rounds through the quiet village of Owego, in upstate NY.
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Book description
On May 13, 1945, twenty-four officers and enlisted men and women stationed on what was then Dutch New Guinea boarded a transport plane named the Gremlin Spicial for a sightseeing trip over "Shangri-La." A beautiful and mysterious valley surrounded by steep, jagged mountain peaks deep within the island's unchartered jungle, this hidden retreat was named after the fabled paradise in this bestselling novel Lost Horizon. But, unlike the peaceful Tibetan monks of James Hilton's book, this Shangri-La was the home of Stone Age warriors-spear-carrying tribesmen rumored to be headhunters and cannibals. The pleasure tour became an unforgettable battle for survival when the plane crashed. Miraculously, three passengers survived - WAC Corporal Margaret Hastings, Lieutenant John McCollom, and Sergeant Kenneth Decker. Margaret, barefoot and burned, had no choice but to wear her dead best friend's shoes. McCollom, grieving the death of his twin brother also aboard the Gremlin Special, masked his grief with stoicism. Decker, too, was severely burned and suffered a bloody, gaping head wound. Emotionally devastated, badly injured, and vulnerable to disease, parasites, and poisonous snakes in the wet jungle climate, the trio faced certain death unless they left the wreckage. Caught between man-eating headhunters and the enemy Japanese, with nothing to sustain them but a handful of candy and their own fortitude, they endured a harrowing trek down the mountainside - an exhausting journey into the unknown that would lead them straight into a primitive tribe of superstitious natives who had never before seen a white man-or woman. Drawn from personal interviews, declassified army documents, personal photos and mementos, a daily journal kept between the crash and the rescue effort, and original film footage, Lost in Shangri-La recounts this incredible true-life adventure for the first time. Mitchell Zuckoff reveals how the determined trio-dehydrated, sick, and in pain - traversed the dense jungle foliage to find help; how a brave band of Filipino-American paratroopers, led by a dogged captain, risked their own lives to save the survivors: how the Americans would be protected by and eventually befriend a noble native chief and his people; and how a cowboy colonel willing to risk the odds attempted a previously untried rescue mission to get them out. (ARC)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061988340, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, May 2011: Near the end of World War II, a plane carrying 24 members of the United States military, including nine Women’s Army Corps (WAC) members, crashed into the New Guinea jungle during a sightseeing excursion. 21 men and women were killed. The three survivors--a beautiful WAC, a young lieutenant who lost his twin brother in the crash, and a severely injured sergeant--were stranded deep in a jungle valley notorious for its cannibalistic tribes. They had no food, little water, and no way to contact their military base. The story of their survival and the stunning efforts undertaken to save them are the crux of Lost in Shangri-La, Mitchell Zuckoff’s remarkable and inspiring narrative. Faced with the potential brutality of the Dani tribe, known throughout the valley for its violence, the trio’s lives were dependent on an unprecedented rescue mission--a dedicated group of paratroopers jumped into the jungle to provide aid and medical care, consequently leaving the survivors and paratroopers alike trapped on the jungle floor. A perilous rescue by plane became their only possible route to freedom. A riveting story of deliverance under the most unlikely circumstances, Lost in Shangri-La deserves its place among the great survival stories of World War II. --Lynette Mong
Amazon Exclusive: Hampton Sides Reviews Lost in Shangri-La

Hampton Sides is the editor-at-large for Outside magazine and the author of the international bestseller Ghost Soldiers, which won the 2002 PEN USA Award for nonfiction and the 2002 Discover Award from Barnes & Noble, and also served as the basis for the 2005 Miramax film The Great Raid.

Although World War II was the greatest conflict in the history of this planet, many a jaded reader has come to the reluctant conclusion that there aren’t any more World War II stories left to tell. At least not good ones—not tales of the “ripping good yarn” variety. Yet remarkably, in his new book Lost in Shangri-La, Mitchell Zuckoff has found one, and he’s told it with reportorial verve, narrative skill, and exquisite pacing.

What makes this World War II story all the more fascinating is that it isn’t really a war story—not in a strict military sense. It’s more of an exotic adventure tale with rich anthropological shadings. In 1945, near the end of the war, an American plane crashes in a hidden jungle valley in New Guinea inhabited by Stone Age cannibals. 21 Americans die in the crash, but three injured survivors soon find themselves stumbling through the jungle without food, nursing terrible wounds and trying to elude Japanese snipers known to be holding out in the mountains.

The first contact between the three Americans and the valley’s Dani tribesmen is both poignant and comical. The Americans, Zuckoff writes, have “crash-landed in a world that time didn’t forget. Time never knew it existed.” The tribesmen, who have never encountered metal and have yet to master the concept of the wheel, think the American interlopers are white spirits who’ve descended on a vine from heaven, fulfilling an ancient legend. They’re puzzled and fascinated by the layers of “removable skin” in which these alien visitors are wrapped; the natives, who smear their bodies in pig grease and cover their genitals with gourds, have never seen clothes before.

The Americans, in turn, are pretty sure their boartusk-bestudded hosts want to skewer them for dinner.

What ensues in Zuckoff’s fine telling is not so much a cultural collision as a pleasing and sometimes hilarious mutual unraveling of assumptions. Though the differences in the two societies are chasmic, the Americans and the Dani become—in a guarded, tentative sort of way—friends.

But when armed American airmen arrive via parachute to rescue the survivors, relations become more tense. The Americans make their camp right in the middle of a no-man’s land between warring Dani tribes—a no-man’s land where for centuries they have fought the battles that are central to their daily culture. Here, Zuckoff notes, the ironies are profoundly rich. The Dani, untouched by and indeed utterly unaware of the great war that’s been raging all across the globe, become thoroughly discombobulated when their own war is temporarily disrupted.

Yes, there are still a few good World War II stories left to tell. And yes, this one meets all the requirements of a ripping good yarn. Zuckoff, who teaches journalism at Boston University, is a first-rate reporter who has spared no expense to rescue this tale from obscurity. His story has it all: Tragedy, survival, comedy, an incredibly dangerous eleventh-hour rescue, and an immensely attractive heroine to boot. It’s extraordinary that Hollywood hasn’t already taken this tale and run wild with it. If it did, the resulting movie would be equal parts Alive, Cast Away, and The Gods Must Be Crazy. It’s as though the Americans have arrived in the Stone Age through a wormhole in the space-time continuum. The Dani don’t know what to do with themselves—and life, as any of us know it, will never be the same.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:16 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Award-winning former Boston Globe reporter Mitchell Zuckoff unleashes the exhilarating, untold story of an extraordinary World War II rescue mission, where a plane crash in the South Pacific plunged a trio of U.S. military personnel into the jungle-clad land of New Guinea… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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