Read Lost in Shangri-la by Mitchell Zuckoff Online


On May 13, 1945, twenty-four American servicemen and WACs boarded a transport plane for a sightseeing trip over “Shangri-La,” a beautiful and mysterious valley deep within the jungle-covered mountains of Dutch New Guinea.Unlike the peaceful Tibetan monks of James Hilton’s bestselling novel Lost Horizon, this Shangri-La was home to spear-carrying tribesmen, warriors rumoredOn May 13, 1945, twenty-four American servicemen and WACs boarded a transport plane for a sightseeing trip over “Shangri-La,” a beautiful and mysterious valley deep within the jungle-covered mountains of Dutch New Guinea.Unlike the peaceful Tibetan monks of James Hilton’s bestselling novel Lost Horizon, this Shangri-La was home to spear-carrying tribesmen, warriors rumored to be cannibals.But the pleasure tour became an unforgettable battle for survival when the plane crashed. Miraculously, three passengers pulled through. Margaret Hastings, barefoot and burned, had no choice but to wear her dead best friend’s shoes. John McCollom, grieving the death of his twin brother also aboard the plane, masked his grief with stoicism. Kenneth Decker, too, was severely burned and suffered a gaping head wound.Emotionally devastated, badly injured, and vulnerable to the hidden dangers of the jungle, the trio faced certain death unless they left the crash site. Caught between man-eating headhunters and enemy Japanese, the wounded passengers endured a harrowing hike down the mountainside—a 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 interviews, declassified U.S. Army documents, personal photos and mementos, a survivor’s diary, a rescuer’s journal, and original film footage, Lost inShangri-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 to find help; how a brave band of paratroopers risked their own lives to save the survivors; and how a cowboy colonel attempted a previously untested rescue mission to get them out.By trekking into the New Guinea jungle, visiting remote villages, and rediscovering the crash site, Zuckoff also captures the contemporary natives’ remembrances of the long-ago day when strange creatures fell from the sky. A riveting work of narrative nonfiction that vividly brings to life an odyssey at times terrifying, enlightening, and comic, Lost in Shangri-La is a thrill ride from beginning to end....

Title : Lost in Shangri-la
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ISBN : 9780062072825
Format Type : Audio
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Lost in Shangri-la Reviews

  • Jeffrey Keeten
    2019-02-24 11:04

    "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" BulataoI'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 McCollomIf you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.comI also have a Facebook blogger page at:

  • Will Byrnes
    2019-02-23 16:10

    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.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 nativesOf 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 STUFFZuckoff'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. Thefeatures a piece on what actually happened to Michael Rockefeller

  • Kemper
    2019-03-09 13:12

    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.

  • Jeff
    2019-03-21 12:18

    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.

  • Mike
    2019-03-14 15:25

    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.

  • Carol
    2019-02-24 16:11

    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.

  • Joseph
    2019-03-17 17:01

    I read a great deal of non-fiction mostly history, military, and political science. After completing graduate school with a degree in international relation and an undergraduate degree in history. I have a set idea of how nonfiction should be written and that it must be cited and documented. When I have a book in my hand I frequently flip back and forth from the book to the citations and notes. It gives me the confidence that what is written is true and verified. So naturally, I am turned off with narrative fiction and its usual lack of proper documentation. That being said I would have passed on Lost in Shangri-la.I discovered a loophole in my own rules of what is really nonfiction. I picked up Shanga-li as an audio book and I must say I enjoyed the story. I don't really know if I would give much more credence that a "Based on a true story" Sunday Night Movie or historical fiction. The dates, the main characters, and major events all seem to mesh with the historical record. The conversations and the details, however, I don't know if they are real or implied. The story of survival and the challenges of surviving in what could be a very hostile wilderness makes for great reading. The story is full of challenges. Everything from natives, injuries, aid, and planning a rescue is problematic. The backdrop of WWII and the military survivors show that no matter how powerful the US military had become during the war, there were certain things they were not prepared for. I will call it a very interesting story based on real events.

  • Eve
    2019-03-14 18:26

    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!

  • A.L. Sowards
    2019-03-13 12:23

    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.

  • Jeremiah
    2019-03-17 14:20

    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.

  • Alex
    2019-02-23 14:16

    Smashing nonfiction story about a few plane crash survivors in WWII New Guinea and 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. 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.

  • Rachel
    2019-03-09 13:25

    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.

  • Jen
    2019-03-25 13:31

    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.

  • Elyse
    2019-03-03 17:07

    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 HillenbrandI also read..."Even Silence Has An End" by Ingrid BetancourtI 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...lolOnce 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!

  • Carol
    2019-02-25 11:23

    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!

  • Saleh MoonWalker
    2019-03-07 18:21

    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

  • Brian
    2019-02-28 13:20

    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.

  • Jessaka
    2019-03-18 15:09

    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.”

  • Jane Stewart
    2019-02-23 14:20

    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.

  • Erin
    2019-02-24 13:26

    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.

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    2019-02-24 16:14

    (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.

  • Cheryl
    2019-03-06 15:04

    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!

  • Donna
    2019-02-25 12:23

    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.

  • Wendi
    2019-03-06 17:23

    Lost In Shangri-LaBy Mitchell ZuckoffPublished by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishersIn 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.

  • Rex Fuller
    2019-02-26 17:18

    Even today, after they have been on television, the Dani and Yali people of the Beliem Valley in Western New Guinea are still primitive, unabsorbed by modern life. In 1945, they could only account for white people showing up as the beginning of the end of days described in their creation mythology.The U.S. Army Air Force stationed on New Guinea called the valley Shangri-La when they accidentally found it and saw the neat villages and row crops laid out on the green valley floor. Being Americans, they promptly took sight-seeing flights to it and one of them crashed. This is the story of the effort to rescue the survivors.Five made it out of the plane alive. Two of those died of their injuries. Only one of the remaining three was uninjured. The other two were going to die of gangrene infecting their burns if not rescued soon enough. When the three – two men and a beautiful WAC – were seen by a search plane the immense effort to get them out became a national sensation.This is a great story, extremely well told, and one that will make you proud of and long for the America of that time.

  • Laura
    2019-03-14 18:02

    What an amazing story - a plane filled with "sightseeing" servicemen and WACs crashes in what they think is a hidden valley (except it's actually one valley over), and only three people survive. One has a severe head injury and burned buttocks, one has burned feet, hands, face and legs, and the other is seemingly unharmed. They escape the crash site, hidden in the jungle, and make it to a clearing where they meet Stone Age tribesmen who don't kill them, and after a few days are found by a search plane. Problem is, the rescue isn't that simple. The valley is one mile up, so helicopters won't work. It's jungle-filled, and landing a plane won't work. The survivors are injured, and the only way to hike out is 150-ish miles either through swampy jungle or through Japanese-soldier infested jungle. Again, won't work.Based on the diaries of the survivors and memories of some of the older natives who met the strange, white people who fell from the sky, Lost in Shangri-La is an adventure story that will appeal to those that love Jon Krakauer's work. And when Bobby Brinson at HarperCollins recommends a book, read it.ARC provided by publisher.

  • Nathan
    2019-03-23 19:30

    This is a fantastic look at one of the lost stories of World War II. Though the story garnered brief worldwide attention in 1945, the details soon were lost in the bigger picture of the Allied victory in the war. Zuckoff takes many characters and gives each one depth and detail, then weaves their stories into one epic tale. After reading the book, I feel like I know the characters. Additionally, Zuckoff paints such a vivid picture of New Guinea that it seems I have visited the exotic locale.This is not a gruesome war story like many from World War II. It is, rather, a human story full of twists, turns, tragedy and triumphs. I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys World War II stories, true-life adventure stories or stories that transport the reader to another time and place. I couldn't put this one down. Thanks again Goodreads for another First Reads book!

  • Lea
    2019-03-21 15:01

    I expected to like this more than I did. At times very compelling, ultimately the story seemed rushed somehow, and ended on a sad note as the author detailed the lives of those involved following their return from New Guinea. The story of the natives following this incident was also quite sad.

  • Book Him Danno
    2019-03-07 12:07

    I am a sucker for WWII stories and I have been dying to read this book every since I saw the title pop up on my kindle. The book isn't just about the survival of three people from a plane crash in Papua New Guinea it is also about a race and culture that was still basically living in the stone age.The story starts off with 24 enlisted personnel winning a chance to fly over "Shangria-La" as part of a way to boast morale on the military base Hollandia. Mitchel introduces all 24 personnel along with their different back stories so when the accident occurs you will likely have connected with someone that might have survived. The author gives you a feel for military life in New Guinea and how men and women were treated on the base.Mitchel takes the reader though terrifying and heart breaking details of the crash and how only 3 were able to survive in the worst conditions imaginable during the first few hours after the crash. Of the three survivors only one was unharmed and the other two were seriously burned and one with a head injury but no one knew how bad it was. The three set off in hope the military would find them in the dense jungle but as they walked the more irritated the burns became. Once they found a clearing the burned victims realized they had developed gangrene and knew if help didn't arrive they would lose body parts and possibly even their lives. Once they found a clearing they all realized that they were near the native village they had been flying over and with all the horror stories of headhunters they were in fear of their lives.As the story progress the author took many pages of one of the survivors journals and used that to paint a colorful pictures of how they survived and how the natives treated them until paratroopers could come to their rescue. Once the medical paratroopers arrive to help save the burned victims we learned of the painful way they removed gangrene from the burn victims bodies. The small band of men and one woman had to hike out of the jungle and back to their military base knowing they could run into cannibals, rough terrain and possibly even hidden Japanese units waiting for their chance at glory. I am going to leave the details of the true rescue a secret for those who haven't read the book, so they can enjoy every second.This is a true story which makes it so easy to connect with the different individuals and their struggles. Knowing that this is a part of history, something you can touch and visit, makes this story even more fantastic than it already was.Thank you Heidi for this review.

  • Andrea
    2019-03-08 18:22

    Listen to the audio version on a trip from Las Cruces to Dallas and back for Christmas. I picked this book because my in-laws were with us and I wanted something we would all be interested in and a book we could finish on the trip (without having to listen non-stop). This turned out to be a great choice. Everyone enjoyed the narration by the author. My father-in-law who listens to a LOT of audio books said he thought this was one of the best narrations he's heard. The pacing of the story is great. Zuckoff provides enough background information on the characters to understand both how they got to New Guinea and what their motivations are. The presentation is dramatic without sliding into melodrama. There is a bit of foreshadowing, but just enough keep the story going without getting annoying. My father-in-law, who spent a couple years in the Air Force after WWII, kept trying to figure out "how we are going to get Margaret out of there." It gave him something to ponder on the long car ride. Since he was familar with the aircraft of the time, he was thinking of other solutions than the one actually used. That spurred some pretty good conversation. Definitely a fun listen/read. Recommended to anyone who enjoys a good yarn.