Lost in Shangri-La

Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff Book Summary

A New York Times bestseller and the winner of the Winship/PEN New England Award, Lost in Shangri-La is “a truly incredible adventure” (New York Times Book Review) about three brave survivors of a WWII plane crash in the jungle.
 
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. 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.
 
This ebook also includes an excerpt from Mitchell Zuckoff’s New York Times bestseller Frozen in Time.
 
About the Author:

Mitchell Zuckoff is a professor of journalism at Boston University. He is the author of Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II, Robert Altman: An Oral Biography, Ponzi's Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend, Judgment Ridge: The True Story of the Dartmouth Murders, with Dick Lehr, Choosing Naia: A Family's Journey, and 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi. He was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting, and the winner of numerous national awards as a reporter for The Boston Globe. He lives outside Boston.

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Lost in Shangri-La (Mitchell Zuckoff) Book Reviews

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- Love it so far!5 star

It has great detail and the amount of heartbreaking facts in in it about WW2 makes you feel like your in the story yourself!

- The best of humanities strengths and weaknesses5 star

Fascinating account of a little known story of survival and acceptance between very disparate people. Raw humanity throughout!

- Lost in Shangri-La5 star

True story, well researched, reads like a piece of good fiction. Clearly justifies that generation’s title “The Greatest”.

- Lost in shangrala5 star

Outstanding first book I've read in a long time due to eye issues but I'm so happy I read this one

- Excellent Read5 star

Very compelling read. A true story of courage and fortitude in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

- A New Fan of Mitchell Zuckoff5 star

Zuckoff sends you on a journey through Shangri-La in such a way that you feel as though you experienced the two-month ordeal with the survivors and rescuers. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading tales of adventure.

- Lost in Shangri-La4 star

I enjoyed reading this book although "true historical" books are not usually my choice of reading material. I thought it was a bit tiresome to read at times with too much military information, but since it was a true story, I can see the importance of including it in the story. Anyone interested in true military stories would really enjoy this book.

- Lost in Shangri-la4 star

This was a good read~captivating from the 1st page. I appreciated the photos throughout the book, helping to keep the growing cast fresh.

- Riveting Piece of History5 star

Loved reading about these heroes. Nothing like being dumped in a jungle complete with primative natives.

- Good read of survival5 star

Nice rainy day, cozy up with this book of survival. As many events are simply unplanned, this started out as a simple ride to uncharted territory. It turned out to be a test of survival, a woman shows her total ability to adapt to the situation and the men who survived with her. Many hero's in this story, the best comes through - as it always does. We don't hear much about everyday hero's today, but it is in each of us, when we volunteer, help strangers, just be nice when it isn't called for. So this story is about all us, in a way. A good read, thoughtful.

- Good book3 star

Had to read it with big breaks in between.

- Lost in Shangri-La5 star

Couldn't put it down. Non-fiction at its best.

- Exceptional5 star

Equal to "unbroken" in every aspect of human endeavor. Would make an excellent motion picture.

- fascinating thrilling true story of crash, culture, rescue4 star

excellent

- Lost In Shangri-la5 star

The book was well set up with the characters. Then the account begins. It was fascinating. Even more so was the attention to detail and the notes/bibliography, etc. It was fascinating.

- Fascinating read5 star

An excellent tale of adventures almost too incredible to be true. One of the best books I've read in a long time, it kept me interested and engaged from start to finish.

- An Anthropologist's Dream5 star

Excellent writing and reporting on a WW 2 phenomenon - the crash of a U.S. plane in the unknown jungles of Dutch New Guinea. Stone age people Encountered modern humans. Exciting observations about the unintended intersection of these two civilizations. Loved every page!

- War adventure meets Gilligan's Island4 star

A meticulously researched survival story, told with respect for the human experience of everyone involved. In 1945 an American plane crashed with 30 people aboard, who had signed up for a sightseeing visit to an uncharted part of New Guinea known then as the Hidden Valley or Shangri-La. The author honors previous tellings of the rescue, going so far as to track down and interview the natives who witnessed the crash 60 years later, to learn their impressions of the "Sky Spirits" who arrived in their valley and set up camp in a sweet potato patch 100 miles from the nearest airstrip. The history, technology, and emotional experience are beautifully balanced; I'm grateful the complete story was captured while those who lived it could still tell the tale.

- Wonderful5 star

This book was very well written with dialogue take from actual journals kept by one of the survivors and by the leader of a rescue mission. It was hard to set the book down with the end of each chapter leading the reader to read one more chapter before setting the book down for the night! Wonderful story set near the end of the Pacific Theater of WWII.

- The Real True Grit4 star

A fascinating story of survival under the harshest of circumstances, discovery and rescue. It was really hard to put down. I highly recommend it to history buffs especially those interested in the war in the Pacific. The only (minor) downside is the authors habit of repeating peoples names & nicknames over & over & over again. It is just plain annoying.

- Hate it5 star

I just hate all books in general

- Excellent read5 star

I really enjoyed this book. I recall knowing about the crash and natives from when I was a child. Most likely from National Geographic. Great survival story, and a testament to the true strength of humans. Read it!

- Good Read5 star

Very well written book and super interesting story.

- Loved it5 star

Great book

- Lost in Shangri-La4 star

Great book, easy to read and a true story of WWII.

- Lost jigging dug4 star

I don't have to be able too see you at all and the first half and half a million century in my life I have no idea what I'm talking bout me I love the it would be have a lot to do be in the my mom is so much better if I was had in mind that is not an easy way to potion to for me or not

- I Love History5 star

Lots of good anecdotes. I really enjoyed the parts where what the Army folks understood about the Dani was compared to the Dani's recollections. Very interesting.

- Lost in Shangri-la5 star

Absolutely fantastic, could not stop reading the book, hated to see it end. I will never forget the book, the survivors, or the rescuers.

- Great!5 star

Kept me entertained. Enjoyed the part about the natives.

- Interesting topic5 star

Neat story. I had no idea of this happening. It's amazing to think this group of natives lived here unnoticed up until this point, which isn't really all that long ago.

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- Incredible story, terribly written.1 star

I was so interested to find out what happened to this group, however I had to suffer through this terribly written book to figure it out. The author wastes half of the book describing irrelevant information in unnecessary detail which really takes away from the readers ability to enjoy the story. It was really interesting to hear about the survive and rescue of the crew, however the book should have been half this length and twice as interesting.

- Good4 star

This book was great and inspiring!🤘🏿

- Lost in Shangra-La4 star

Good mix of intrigue, suspense and historical facts. It kept my interest all the way through.

- Lost in Shangri-La4 star

Really interesting read, glad the three made it, it was touch and go for a while.

- Best non fiction ever!5 star

Loved this. Couldn't put it down. Written in such a descriptive way that I felt as if I were there. Thank you for making this available.

- Excellent5 star

True stories often fail to thrill like their fictional counterparts but with Shangri-la all that can be forgotten. A superb recounting of an event in late WW2 that I never knew about. It's likely already a movie but again, I've somehow missed it. If not, it'd make a great one with little need for artistic licence. Clint Eastwood directing, boo yah!

- Good read4 star

Great story, well researched and very informative. I had never heard this story before so was quite entertained

- Lost in Shangri-la5 star

An excellent, well written and factual book that places the reader in with the survivors and the rescuers, to share the sacrifices of both. Not losing the reader in pedantic details but resplendent with interesting facts the reader is placed well into the trials, tribulations, thoughts and feelings of the participants. Real life heroes emerge from this book showing what the human spirit can endure. A must read !!! BLI

- Great book5 star

Great story

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- I Enjoyed it!5 star

Being a retired Air Force woman, I could relate to everything that went on, such as "boondoggle" flights to exotic locations, etc. I have flown in many C 47 aircrafts during the Vietnam years. I thought the story was very well done with lots of history.

- Lost in shangri-la5 star

Excellent,well written and organized.

- Lost in Shangri-La5 star

What an inspiration! This true story of people who became heroes because "we had no choice but to do what had to be done" stands as an example of what the human spirit can do when life requires it. May we all overcome obstacles like the crew and rescuers and the natives did in meeting their unique challenges. This is a haunting story.

- Lost in Shang ri la5 star

What a wonderful book about survival and the human spirit. Another story of the unsung heroes of WWII. I almost felt I was there with them, so vivid were the descriptions of the the whole ordeal.

- Lost in Shangri-La4 star

Great reading. These are the hidden stories of WWII! Hard to comprehend the discovery of a civilization that no one know existed. The heartache that the survivors endured is hard to get a handle on, so a book like this is greatly appreciated and needed!

- Lost in Shangri-La4 star

Very interesting read. You can feel the pain and heartbreak of the survivors of the terrible crash

- An Absorbing Story4 star

This very thorough account is hard to put down. I'm glad I read it.

- Excellent.5 star

I loved this book! Learned more about history and unknown people. Impressed by the bibliography. Was sad when it was over.

- Excellent!5 star

Very interesting. It took me two days to read this book, I was completely wrapped up in this story, and I'm from Dayton Ohio.

- Great book5 star

This was a great read and wonderfully written. Unlike some true stories this was a real page turner. Wonderful story that comes to life for the reader.

- LarinUP5 star

Great survival story about the men and woman of WW II, and how they survive in a stone age Shangri-La.

- Boo boo head1 star

It stinks

- Disappointing2 star

Does not live up to the sub title. Author had to work to make this story book length. Too much filler. Other than the first initial crash sequences and camp, not much suspense. I found the most interesting and captivating part was about the natives. They were much more interesting than the bulk of the book. I agree with a previous post in the story being a really good mag article. Over all ok. If you want a great WWII rescue story, read The Forgotten 500. It'll blow your socks off.

- Lost in Shangri-la5 star

Very entertaining,interesting, easy to read and worth every penny.

- Lost in shangri-la5 star

Fascinating book. Couldn't put down!

- Lost in Shangrila3 star

this book is based on an interesting short story that is not enough to carry an entire book. Some parts are highly interesting but it drags in many parts. overall a good summer read.

- Great Book5 star

This is a great book to understand the hidden aspects of WWII - those islands in the Pacific that were overlooked or became strategic implements to fighting and winning the war. The details are great and the end brings us up to date on the main characters and their lives. The bravery and ingenuity to get the survivors out of the jungle are well worth the read. Enjoy!

- !!!!!!5 star

Read the sample and I will for sure be getting it soon!

- Lost in shangri la5 star

Amazing book that you won't be able to put down. The story telling is incredible and I had to keep reminding myself that it was a true story!

- Interesting story of survival and adventure5 star

This is an interesting story of the survivors of a military plane crash in New Guinea late in WWII. Extensive research and diaries flesh out the details really well - you won't find a lot of fictionalized embellishments, and additions that didn't happen here. A great build-up that has a satisfying finish - even if plateaus a bit toward the end. Highly recommended for fans of WWII history, and adventurous stories such as The Lost City Of Z.. When you have finished reading the book, check out the short documentary video on Mitchell Zuckoff's website that offers some photos and video of the latter half of the book as it happened. A fairly quick, but satisfying read.

- Lost in Shangrila5 star

Good read. Engaging from the beginning. Packed with interesting historical tidbits.

- Lost...2 star

This was a great magazine article...but not even top notch investigation and good writing can put enough meat on this skeleton to make it a novel. If you read the iTunes description, you've basically got the whole story. Devoid of action, cannibals, treacherous jungle, plot, characters development.

- Lost in Shang ra la5 star

Wonderful read, well investigated story, the author makes you feel like you're part of the crew! Bravo!

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