Monday, February 16, 2015

Lost in Shangri-La

Lost in Shangri-La
by Mitchell Zuckoff

I bought a new cell phone in January.  Part of the package was a book app. I don't recall exactly when I purchased (for free) this book on that app, but I found myself reading it on my phone when ever I had a chance.  

This true story takes place in New Guinea toward the end of WWII. A military plane filled with service men and women takes off on a sightseeing tour to view a recently discovered valley in the center of the island. This beautiful valley, nicknamed "Shangri-La" was home to thousands of native people who had never seen or been visited by any other humans on earth.  They were indeed very frightened by the planes that had suddenly begun flying over their villages. 

This sightseeing tour ends tragically when the plane crashes into the dense jungle and bursts into flames.  All but three of the 28 people on board are killed.  Two of the three survivors are seriously injured.  Their survival appears uncertain unless they can move out of the cover of the forest to where they can be seen and hopefully rescued.  Making matters worse is the unknown demeanor of the natives. They are believed to be cannibalistic, and the survivors have no idea whether they are friendly or hostile.

The rescue mission is complicated by the high altitude of the valley, the dense jungle with no options for landing a plane and the distance and terrain that separates them from their post.  The book is scattered with photos of the survivors, the natives, and the paratroopers who came to rescue them.  The story is gathered from diary entries and interviews of those involved.  The epilogue satisfies my curiosity of what became of the military men and women involved in the crash and rescue, as well as the primitive culture found previously undisturbed by outside influence. 

I loved this book and look forward to reading more by Zuckoff.  I give this book 4 of 5 shots


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