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Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War IIby Mitchell Zuckoff
Synopses & Reviews
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 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 in Shangri-La recounts this incredible true-life adventure for the first time.
"Zuckoff (Ponzi's Scheme) skillfully narrates the story of a plane crash and rescue mission in an uncharted region of New Guinea near the end of WWII. Of the 24 American soldiers who flew from their base on a sightseeing tour to a remote valley, only three survived the disaster, including one WAC. As the three waited for help, they faced death from untreated injuries and warlike local tribesmen who had never seen white people before and believed them to be dangerous spirits. Even after a company of paratroopers arrived, the survivors still faced a dangerous escape from the valley via 'glider snatch.' Zuckoff transforms impressive research into a deft narrative that brings the saga of the survivors to life. His access to journal accounts, letters, photos, military records, and interviews with the eyewitnesses allows for an almost hour-by-hour account of the crash and rescue, along with vivid portraits of his main subjects. Zuckoff also delves into the Stone Age culture of the New Guinea tribesmen and the often humorous misapprehensions the Americans and natives have about each other. In our contemporary world of eco-tourism and rain-forest destruction, Zuckoff's book gives a window on a more romantic, and naive, era. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Mitchell Zuckoff has found one of the great untold yarns of World War II. In the bold tradition of The Lost City of Z and other well-crafted armchair adventures, Lost in Shangri-La takes us on a breathless descent through forbidding jungles into the heart of the Stone Age." James L. Swanson, New York Times bestselling author of Manhunt
"[A] gripplingly cinematic account....A remarkable cast of characters." Entertainment Weekly
"Zuckoff delivers a remarkable survival story....In this well-crafted book, Zuckoff turns the long-forgotten episode into an unusually exciting narrative....Polished, fast-paced and immensely readable — ready for the big screen." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"A lost world, man-eating tribesmen, lush and impenetrable jungles, stranded American fliers (one of them a dame with great gams, for heaven's sake), a startling rescue mission....This is a true story made in heaven for a writer as talented as Mitchell Zuckoff. Whew—what an utterly compelling and deeply satisfying read!" Simon Winchester, author of Atlantic
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 a land that time forgot. Fans of Hampton Sides Ghost Soldiers, Marcus Luttrells Lone Survivor, and David Granns The Lost City of Z will be captivated by Zuckoffs masterfully recounted, all-true story of danger, daring, determination, and discovery in jungle-clad New Guinea during the final days of WWII.
“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 Luttrells Lone Survivor, and David Granns The Lost Cityof Z will be captivated by Zuckoffs masterfullyrecounted, all-true story of danger, daring, determination, and discovery injungle-clad New Guinea during the final days of WWII.
About the Author
Mitchell Zuckoff's honors include the 2000 Distinguished Writing Award from the American Society of Newspaper Editors. His book Choosing Naia: A Family's Journey was a Boston Globe bestseller and won the Christopher Award.
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