Lost in Shangri-la

Lost in Shangri-la

A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II

Book - 2011
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IndyPL_SteveB Nov 26, 2018

Both a great survival/rescue story and a fascinating look at Americans trying to communicate with a secluded tribe during World War II. It's hard to put down.

On a Sunday afternoon near the end of World War II, a plane load of American GIs and WACs flew on a sight-seeing trip over a secluded jungle valley in the mountains of New Guinea. They were hoping to see the homes of a group of unknown tribes, a true “lost civilization.” Instead, the plane crashed into the side of a mountain, with only three survivors: an officer whose twin brother had died in the crash, a soldier with a severe head wound, and a badly burned WAC. This is the fascinating true story of their meeting with the native tribes and their amazing rescue by paratroopers and the Air Force. Told from diaries, interviews with one of the survivors, and even interviews with several of the natives who were there, which gives it a depth that might not otherwise be true. Excellent research and writing both.

Apr 18, 2017

I still want book but want to pick up at Linden Hills

Jul 17, 2015

Excellent story of a little known event of World War 2

bibliotechnocrat Apr 21, 2015

As World War II drew to a close, an American flyer spotted a valley wedged high in the inaccessible mountains of New Guinea. Not on any maps, flyovers showed a significant population of aboriginals who had, apparently, never encountered the modern world. A journalist fan of Lost Horizons, dubbed the valley "Shangri-la" with unconscious irony; the culture of the valley focused on endless wars.

Of course there was widespread curiosity about the valley and on a flight to take a look at this 'eden,' a plane disappeared into the jungle canopy. The ensuing tale of survival, injury, first encounters, and crazy rescue make for a tense read tinged with tragedy.

Dec 17, 2014

I couldn't put it down! Very well told account of a rescue in WWII on the island of New Guinea.

BostonPL_JordanD Oct 30, 2014

Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff
Read by: Anna/Copley Teen Room
Originally posted to the BPL Teen Blog on 8/22/2012.

This is the story of a sight-seeing army plane that was taking several soldiers and Women in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) over a newly discovered vally in Dutch New Guinea in May of 1945 near the end of World War II. This was uncharted territory, and very hard to fly through because of sharp winds, lots of clouds, and very high mountains that appeared out of nowhere like monsters. The plane crashed, essentially in the middle of nowhere, and only three people survived. But life was not easy for them. They were undercover of a dense forest, where no search plane could see them, and two of the survivors were severely wounded, most of their skin burned off and disease setting in. They were forced to hike to a clearing, and to face the natives, whom it was thought at the time, were cannibals. No one in the Army knew how to get them out of their location. Planes couldn’t fly in, and a hike would be roughly 150 miles of dangerous terrain that no one had ever hiked through before. This book chronicles the plight of the three survivors, two men and one woman, along with those who risked their lives to get them out. It is also the story of how the natives came to meet the outside world for the first time. These people didn’t know what a radio was. They didn’t even know what a wheel was. They had their own way of life, and had been living it for thousands of years before a plane crash changed everything for them.

What an experience. I can’t imagine what this must have been like for those who survived the crash and for those natives who believed these white people who fell from the sky were spirits. But though Zuckoff’s book, I was able to get a glimpse of things, to see how they surivived, and to see the amazing rescue effort that almost didn’t happen on many occassions. This was a fantastic read and one I would highly recommend to anyone interested in flying or surviving in the jungle. Once I got into this book, I couldn’t put it down!

Jan 02, 2014

Read this e book & enjoyed the details; it wasn't a page turner like Vanished, but appreciate the dedication & service.

Aug 25, 2013

As a history buff, this book had me from the beginning. Wonderful, well written story of an actual event in WWII history. Started reading 3 hours ago, I'm over a third thought it. It will be a late night reading.

WVMLStaffPicks Jun 08, 2013

Towards the end of the Second World War the thrill of a sightseeing trip over the jungles of Dutch New Guinea turns into an incredible story of survival. How to rescue the 24 American servicemen and women who crashed in a remote area surrounded by enemy Japanese troops and headhunting native tribes that have never seen a white person. Taken from interviews, army documents, personal photos, diaries, rescuers’ journals and original film footage, this book tells the amazing rescue story of these brave people.

KatSu Sep 02, 2012

I enjoyed this a lot, there was a lot of interesting information, but it was well written and only slowed down in a couple spots, all in all it was a very good read

Jul 30, 2012

Very interesting. However, I could not not connect the photos - where everyone looked pretty healthy - to the descriptions in the story - where they were in dire straights.

Jun 12, 2012

Near the end of World War II, a group of soldiers and Women's Army Corps members stationed in Dutch New Guinea takes off on a Sunday sight-seeing trip to "Shangri-La," a valley inhabited by a warring people who maintain a Stone Age lifestyle and have had virtually no contact with outsiders. Cloud cover and shifting wind currents make the isolated valley treacherous for planes, and an inexperienced pilot at the controls does nothing to aid the situation. When the plane crashes, it initiates a nearly impossible mission of survival and rescue. Buoyed by outstanding research (including the journals of the sole female crash survivor and one rescuer), Zuckoff keeps a brisk pace as he describes the survivors' initial fight to be found, the base camp's plans for rescue and the team's interactions with natives “in a world that time didn’t forget. Time never knew it existed.” Excellent.

Jun 06, 2012

For any fan of Pacific Theater WWII history or cultural anthropology, this will be a great read. The author weaves in and out of the main story tying in so many surrounding stories that all come together seamlessly.

May 19, 2012

Meryl's recommendation

May 19, 2012

What a fascinating true story book and well written. Could picture the treks thru' the jungle, as I visited New Guinea (now Papua New Guinea) and encountered downed WWII planes. Walked in the jungle and visited villagers in their "houses" (huts).

Apr 25, 2012

Two tragedies frame the main story.

First, the casual arrogance of the pilot, who left the cockpit and an inexperience copilot, to flirt with the WACs.

Second, Christian missionaries and other invaders from the modern world arrive postwar and destroy the native peoples' culture.

Feb 07, 2012

Wonderfuly written story providing great detail and a first-hand account of this incredible event. My one suggestion would've been to hold some of the pictures in the story, because they gave away some of what was going to happen.

Highly recommend you read this book.

Dec 30, 2011

I found this a fascinating read although agree that some of the background material was a bit tedious. Still, it was well worth reading.

jbassi Nov 26, 2011

This novel was an AMAZING read! I'm not in particular big on war stories, but this novel was more than just that. A courageous tale of 3 survivors helping each other overcome hardships deep in uncharted jungle terrain. Their engagement with the tribes people of the valley makes you realize that although they couldn't understand each other's language, they develop an everlasting bond developed from human compassion and understanding. Now definately one of my favourite reads!

Nov 10, 2011

A minor story dragged out into a full-length book.

Oct 12, 2011

While I found some of the background material rather boring, the overall story was riveting.

Sep 08, 2011

I had trouble putting this book down. It's an amazingly well-documented account of a plane crash in New Guinea during WWII, told without sentiment or political chest-beating, and describing the heroics of the survivors as well as of the rescuers. Excellent book.

VeganGreen Sep 07, 2011

Truth can be stranger than fiction!

Aug 16, 2011

This book is a very fast read about a fascinating time in history. A survival story that boggles the mind and warms the with the ingenuity and courage of young men and women in SE Asia during WWII. I recommend it for history buffs as well as those who like to read 'surviver' stories.

Jun 28, 2011

A great job of research and reporting of this true story from World War II. An excellent example of Truth being stranger than Fiction.

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