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!