{Textbooks} Lost in Shangri-laAuthor Mitchell Zuckoff – Gsagency.co

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 USitary Personnel Into A Land That Time Forgot Fans Of Hampton Sides Ghost Soldiers, Marcus Luttrell S Lone Survivor, And David Grann S The Lost Cityof Z Will Be Captivated By Zuckoff S Masterfullyrecounted, All True Story Of Danger, Daring, Determination, And Discovery Injungle Clad New Guinea During The Final Days Of WWII

10 thoughts on “Lost in Shangri-la

  1. says:

    Mitchell Zuckoff in Papua New Guinea, next to the wreckage of the Gremlin Special image from BU Today photo by Buzz Maxey I bet you watched at least some TV coverage of the rescue of Chilean miners in 2010 The whole world did In 1945 there was comparable interest in a remarkable rescue People followed the search and then the rescue attempts for weeks But a few small events, like the first use of nuclear weapons and the subsequent end of the war, pushed the story out of the public eye While researching another project, Mitchell Zuckoff happened across this story, actually located one of the survivors, and has rescued this gripping tale from an undeserved oblivion In the waning days of World War II, an Army C 47 transport plane takes off from Base G in the town of Hollandia, on the north coast of New Guinea Aboard is a collection of military personnel, male and female, flying over the island to get a look see at a remote, newly discovered but ancient civilization, tucked away between mist covered mountains and guarded by hundreds of square miles of impenetrable jungle They call this newly discovered place Shangri La in honor of the fictional utopia of James Hilton s Lost Horizon These excursions are a regular treat Twenty four people are on the trip flying in the ill named Gremlin Special When it crashes in the jungle only three survive Known to the Gremlin Special survivors as Pete, a leader of the village of Uwambo He was the first native to literally extend a hand of greeting to Margaret Hastings, Kenneth Decker and John McCollom Image and text from Zuckoff s site1945 New Guinea is home to a wide range of unpleasant biting creatures and a cornucopia of microscopic bad boys that would make a biologist sing, but might present a challenge to crash survivors, particularly when piled atop the burden of serious injuries It is a huge island, second largest on Earth, and in addition to its other selling points, it is inhabited by tribes of cannibals still living with Stone Age technology, and, just for fun, thousands of well camouflaged Japanese soldiers, recently driven inland from the coast Have a nice day The personalities read like a Hollywood dream come true The group includes a beautiful, but tough as nails, damsel in distress, a courageous Lieutenant who has to overcome his grief at the loss of his brother and rise to the occasion in order to keep himself and his people alive, a studly, gung ho paratrooper eager to prove his mettle and recover the survivors, a drunken, disgraced Hollywood film maker trying to recover his career, daring and chipper Filipino medics and paratroopers, and, of course, a tribe or two of local cannibals, who have discovered fire, but have not yet made it up to the wheel This is just a fun, fun book to read Zuckoff does a very good job of giving us a feel for the players here He spoke to as many as possible, including the Stone Agers You can feel yourself rooting for this one or that one, and controlling an urge to break out into a few bars of Bloody Mary I particularly enjoyed Zuckoff s descriptions of the Westerners interactions with the natives.Of course we know something about who gets out because the author quotes them to us early on, and he makes no claims to clairvoyance But there are still plenty of details to be found out While we know about some of the survivors, we do not know what shape they were in when they got out There was a harrowing race underway between gangrene and time It took daring and considerable envelope pushing to bring em back alive How they accomplish that seems amazing, even now There are a few fun facts here as well, such as the derivation of the term Walkie talkie But just in case you might think this is merely an entertaining, fast, breezy read, there is sub text that gives one poi for thought Are the Stone Agers any different from contemporary people Are the perpetual wars that the ancient headhunters fight with spears and arrows really so different from the ones fought with guns and atom bombs Is human nature so determined Religion enters as well The native culture tells of spirits from the sky It sounded like time travelers or aliens to me, but it does raise a question of people s need for something to believe in, whether that belief is held by primitives living in remote jungles, or sophisticates living in modern cities If you can find your way to the bookstore, there is no doubt that you will lose yourself in Lost in Shangri La You will not want to leave EXTRA STUFFZuckoff s later book, Frozen in Time, another lost rescue book, is also worth a look.The mystery of one of the most famous missing persons has been solved The features a piece on what actually happened to Michael Rockefeller

  2. says:

    The cabin crumbled forward toward the cockpit The walls of the fuselage collapsed as though sucked inward Both wings ripped away The tail section snapped off like a balsa wood toy Flames shot through the wreckage Small explosions rang out like gunshots Black smoke choked off the light The air grew bitter with the stench of burning metal, burning leather, burning rubber, burning wires, burning oil, burning cloths, burning hair, burning flesh It wasn t easy getting a seat on the Gremlin Special to fly over this mystical valley they d heard such intriguing reports about It was a good mix of young men and women who were excited about the prospect of joining a select group of people who have been allowed to see Shangri La The experienced pilot was back in the cabin area probably answering questions and flirting with the pretty girls One of the women had taken the pilot s seat up front to enjoy the view When the co pilot experiences trouble the plane hits the side of the mountain before anyone can even react Out of the twenty four people on board three survive Thus begins a tale of survival and the search to find them A world weary of war news starting following the news articles about the search with avid attention The military quickly realized this was an opportunity for wonderful PR and blessed their lucky stars that one of the survivors just happened to be a beautiful young WAC named Margaret Hastings Margaret Hastings To add to the poignancy of the story one of the survivors John McCollom lost his twin brother Robert in the crash The world wanted these people brought back safely Little was known of the tribesmen that inhabited this valley They had been relatively untainted by civilization They still used bows and arrows and stone axes They had not invented the wheel, but did understand and use fire They didn t really have any organized religion, but did fear the spirits of their ancestors To appease these spirits they would cut off the digits of a female family member It was not unusual for a woman by the time she reached adulthood to have nubs for fingers on her right hand Luckily for the survivors the tribes people did not see them as a threat, but merely as a curiosity Margaret did have to keep track of her hands as the tribes people did attempt to help her grieve for her fallen companions by hacking off a few of her digits Tribesman sporting his penis gourd They are wonderful carefree people Living in a land of perpetual summer, they never worry about their next meal The army sends in Filipino paratroopers lead by Captain C Earl Walter Jr to find the survivors It is a tricky jump, with a thick jungle canopy, the green only broken by bone breaking rock structures To make the jump even hazardous they had to come out of the plane at a very low altitude with chutes deployed If something went wrong they would have no time to deploy a reserve chute The survivors did not escape unscathed Hastings has deep burns on her legs Decker has a shattered elbow, a deep slice to his head, and badly burned buttocks McCollom fortunately only sustained a broken rib Gangrene has started to set into their wounds and when the Filipino medics arrived they felt some hope that they might survive their wounds Margaret Hastings with her Filipino Medics Corporal Camilo Rammy Ramirez and Sergeant Benjamin Doc BulataoI m not going to be a spoiler You will have to read the book to find out how the military final figures out how to bring them out of that valley One thing about Americans we are an ingenious bunch We sometimes put lives on the line to save the few, but for the people lost in that valley they had no doubts that their friends would be coming for them Zuckoff loads the book with old photographs I love old photographs What I knew about Papua New Guinea wouldn t have filled up a thimble, but now I know for instance that it is the second largest island in the world after Greenland Bring on Trivia Pursuit Decker, Hastings, and McCollomIf you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at

  3. says:

    I have said it before, and I ll say it again The jungles of the earth must be DESTROYED Before you break your fingers on your keyboard in your haste to flame me for that comment take a moment to ask yourself if I might be joking.In the last months of World War II as America worked its way towards Japan a plane load of military personnel took off for a sightseeing tour of a remote valley in New Guinea that had been dubbed Shangri La Previous flights had noted tribes of natives numbering in the thousands, but the terrain prevented visits and viewing them from the air had become a treat for bored service men and women.Unfortunately, this trip turned deadly when the plane crashed and killed almost all the passengers The survivors had serious injuries and were trapped in a thick mountain jungle They were also surrounded by natives who had never met anyone outside their valley and had a culture based on constantly warring on each other After the survivors were spotted by rescue planes the immediate problems of treating their injuries and protecting them from potentially hostile natives became focus A squad of gung ho Filipino paratroopers led by a frustrated American captain volunteered to parachute down to deal with the immediate problems with no idea of how they d be getting back out After they dropped in weeks passed in Shangri La as the crash survivors were treated and guarded by the paratroopers.Since they were resupplied by air and in radio contact with the overhead planes the survivors and the paratroopers became instant celebrities, especially a pretty WAC named Margaret Hastings who got dubbed the Queen of Shangri La by the press As the world watched the army tried to figure out a way to get them out of the incredibly inaccessible valley What they came up with for a rescue plan was so bat shit crazy that it defies belief.This was entertaining and exciting pop history about a story that was huge in its time but had been forgotten as the end of WWII overshadowed it Zuckoff does a good job of telling a compelling tale and relaying the history of the people involved to make you care what happened to them He also gives an interesting anthropological account of the native tribes as well as tracking down some who were still living to get their version of how the strange incident played out.

  4. says:

    The story is compelling enough a U.S army plane crashes in a remote, inaccessible part of New Guinea killing nearly everyone on board Three people survive, two men and a woman Two are severely injured They need to trek through the jungle to a clearing, so they can be spotted and rescued Rescuers will have a tough time not only getting in, but due to the geographic problems, getting them out will be near impossible.Did I mention that the area is inhabited by war like Stone Age cannibals I didn t Sorry.The area is inhabited by war like Stone age cannibals.What would have been a nice magazine article has been blown up to book size Over gilding an obvious lily by stretching out the story, amping up the dramatic tension that doesn t need amping, and addressing events with dramatic potential and then forgetting about elaborating on them Weren t they life threatening or at least limb losing wounds How d they get better or letting the reader in on how they were resolved.The book follows what seems like the current approach to non fiction events at least the books I ve read Start off with the event in progress, then backtrack to the beginning and recount the events as they unfold As a relevant player is introduced, info dump a chapter bio Benito Mussolini, born in 1883, liked goose stepping, fascism, dressing in black and making his toy trains run on time He had a pet ferret named Romulus.Also drag the pace down by including info dump chapters on other relevant topics to bring your article up from a pamphlet to book size.For all of my kvetching, the book isn t horrible It s an interesting true to life story that just didn t need to get juiced quite as much as it did.Sexist pig bonus questions Ladies, when you are laid low with burns and gangrenous wounds, at the sight of a hot guy, does your libido go on over drive Are you ready to forget your pain and suffering and get it on Yeah, that s what I thought.The author, and the lead rescuer, seemed concerned that the female survivor would turn the situation into some randy, jungle orgy and discouraged his charges from flirting, lest he end up with a pregnant rescuee.

  5. says:

    How is this not a Hollywood epic movie WWII Plane crash in the jungle survivors include a beautiful, plucky, injured WAC Stone Age lost civilization rescue mission by paratroopers tabloid exploitation by news media and government impending loss of innocence as the modern world intrudes into Shangri La All of it true and expertly covered in the Four Star Lost in Shangri la A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War IIa Highly recommended Shortly after three o clock in the afternoon on Sunday, May 13, 1945, Major George Nicholson s desperate struggle to gain altitude ended The distance between the C 47 and the unforgiving terrain closed to zero To the earsplitting din of metal twisting, glass shattering, engines groaning, branches snapping, fuel igniting, bodies tumbling, lives ending, the Gremlin Special plunged through the trees and slammed into the jungle covered mountainside. This was a sight seeing tour gone horribly wrong Zuckoff and the Army avoid placing blame for the accident directly on the pilots, citing possible downdrafts, mechanical problems, high altitude, etc view spoiler BS The direct cause of the accident was the pilot in command, Col Prossen left his seat to chat up the pax in the back, leaving his inexperienced copilot Maj Nicholson to fly and navigate in an area neither he or the Colonel had ever flown in Mountain flying is inherently dangerous and Nicholson ensures the coming crash by descending to low level in a small valley to buzz the natives and give the passengers a better view There was no way to turn around or climb fast enough to clear the approaching ridgeline Twenty one people died because of a stupid miscalculation, no excuse for it hide spoiler

  6. says:

    The only regret I have about reading Lost in Shangri La now is that I can t put it on a library best list until December 2012 It was that good You d think with all the stories written with regards to World War II that all had been told And then along comes another and you re amazed that you never heard anything about this one Lost in Shangri La is such a story On Sunday, May 13, 1945, Colonel Peter Prossen planned a special outing for some of his staff, a flight to view a remote valley known as Shangri La This remote area of New Guinea had been spotted by Colonel Ray T Ells It was a break in the jungle he described as a riot of dazzling color.Thirty miles long and eight miles wide it revealed lush land and tens of thousands of native peoples living in villages with gardens, irrigation systems, dams and drainage ditches Unable to land, Ells was nonetheless enthralled with what he had seen and told all who would listen about it It became the place to fly over thus Colonel Prossen s idea of a gift to his hard working staff An opportunity not to be missed by the twenty four servicemen and women who boarded that fateful day What started out as somewhat of a joy ride turns tragic when the plane crashes leaving all but three dead The army makes an all out search for the missing plane When it is learned there are survivors, it becomes a story of a rescue mission that is as awe inspiring as as it is heroic Three survivors, Corporal Margaret Hastings, Tech Sergeant Kenneth Decker, and Lieutenant John McCollom, see Shrangri La in a way they never dreamed Injured and disoriented they must find their way to help Their journey is quite an adventure Though much of the book deals with the survival of the three, Zucker gives due respect to each of the passengers and crew who died in the crash Then, we too are taken along for a glimpse of a world that time had forgotten as the survivors sidestep Japanese troops and meet the tribes rud to be headhunters It is absolutely fascinating.

  7. says:

    I read a great deal of non fiction mostly history, military, and political science After completing graduate school with a degree in international relation and an undergraduate degree in history I have a set idea of how nonfiction should be written and that it must be cited and documented When I have a book in my hand I frequently flip back and forth from the book to the citations and notes It gives me the confidence that what is written is true and verified So naturally, I am turned off with narrative fiction and its usual lack of proper documentation That being said I would have passed on Lost in Shangri la.I discovered a loophole in my own rules of what is really nonfiction I picked up Shanga li as an audio book and I must say I enjoyed the story I don t really know if I would give much credence that a Based on a true story Sunday Night Movie or historical fiction The dates, the main characters, and major events all seem to mesh with the historical record The conversations and the details, however, I don t know if they are real or implied The story of survival and the challenges of surviving in what could be a very hostile wilderness makes for great reading The story is full of challenges Everything from natives, injuries, aid, and planning a rescue is problematic The backdrop of WWII and the military survivors show that no matter how powerful the US military had become during the war, there were certain things they were not prepared for I will call it a very interesting story based on real events.

  8. says:

    If you like pork and sweet potatoes maybe you would have liked living among the New Guinea natives back in the 30s or 40s, or if you liked tropical jungles that look like paradise, you may love living in one, but you would also have to worry about jungle rot, malaria, elephantiasis, and dengue fever just to mention a few I rather wished that I lived in the jungle, but a tame one without jungle rot Well, the first chapter put me in a deep funk, which was totally unexpected All I knew about the story was that in May of 1945, twenty four army men and women, who were stationed on the beach of New Guinea, wanted to take a pleasure trip over the island Their plane crashed and only three survived Actually two others had survived for a while.This true story began by introducing us to the lives of the people onboard that plane Margaret Hastings was one of the women As I read the brief story of her life up until then, I thought of my sister who grew up in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, and I thought of how Margaret s life was like hers but had been cut short That was when I felt a deep sadness of a young life being cut short Then I learned that Margaret was okay She was one of the three survivors.Margaret grew up in Owego and bicycled to the local swimming hole, hitchhiked when she wanted to explore beyond the village, did well in school, and read books Well, now that I think of it, I explored while bike riding and read books, not my sister.Margaret also dated a young soldier and spent time with him on the beach, and that is when I actually thought of my sister, her dating soldiers from Camp Roberts, going to the beach but having to take me and my sister along with her because she was our babysitter Like Margaret s swimming hole, my sister used to take us out to someone s ranch and we all sneaked into their hot spring pool during the night.When Margaret survived the plane crash her legs were severely burned, so she feared losing them The other four were not doing well either Gangrene Severe injuries And I will leave it up to others to read the book because from that moment on their life in the jungle became precarious but exciting to me because I love survival stories.The natives finally found and took them in, but that came with a great price to those natives, as it always does They had a legend called Uluayek It told of spirits that lived in the sky over the valley, and of a vine that hung down to the ground Long ago, according to the Uluayek legend, the valley people and the sky spirits climbed up and down the vine to visit one another Some said that the sky spirits had long hair and light skin and eyes Some said that they had hairy arms they kept covered No one knew for sure, because the spirits had stolen pigs and women, and the people of the valley had cut the vine, ending contract The Uluayek legend claimed that one day the sky spirits would replace the vine and climb down again The spirits return would herald the End of Days Their way of life had ended for soon the light skinned people came and mined for gold and copper, and then the loggers came to cut down their trees Even the missionaries came because they believed that the natives needed Christ and morals Now, today, the natives have AIDs and are hungry and living in poverty Elderly natives walk down the streets begging for change and cigarettes and pose for photos The natives look lost.

  9. says:

    Shangri La What exactly is that I had always assumed that Shangri La referred to either the all girl pop band from the 60s, or was a generic name for seedy motels of questionable repute ie Andrew McCarthy s very bad TV movie, The Courtyard I was unexpectedly enlightened when I recently picked up Mitchell Zuckoff s book, Lost in Shangri La Escape from a Hidden World, A True Story.Shangri La was a fictional valley in the Himalayas created by James Hilton in his 1933 novel entitled Lost Horizon It was supposed to be the ideal paradise on earth, isolated from the outside world It was also popularized in the 1937 film adaptation directed by Frank Capra So it was no surprise when a virtually untouched, beautiful valley deep in Dutch New Guinea was discovered by soldiers stationed at Hollandia Military Base during WWII, and nicknamed Shangri La On May 13, 1945, a military airplane carrying 24 officers male and female from Hollandia on a sightseeing expedition over the valley, crashes into a mountain base at the entrance of the valley Thus begins our story Through eyewitness accounts, newspaper articles, and military documents, Zuckoff pieces together a memorable rescue mission for the remaining three survivors of the crash After surviving the crash, the officers have to contend with serious injuries, as well as the fierce natives, who are rud to be cannibals, and who have never before seen people from the outside Zuckoff gathers first hand statements from descendants of the Logo Mabel clan, as well as the Filipino American paratrooper team of eight sent in to rescue This read like a Hollywood screenplay, and was surprisingly comedic at certain points

  10. says:

    Non fiction written as a compelling narrative of the survivors of a plane crash in Shangri La named after the valley in the James Hilton novel Lost Horizon in Dutch New Guinea near the end of WWII Faced with limited food and serious injuries, not to mention the perils of the jungle, the survivors must find a way to get rescued or face travel over hundreds of miles of dense forest filled with warring natives and Japanese in hiding Once they were discovered missing, the U.S military had to find them, and figure out how to get them back under extremely perilous circumstances Zuckoff has done his research, including recently discovered journals, military accounts, a visit to the crash site, and interviews with many participants and family members He writes an interesting story, sticking to the facts, giving enough background to set the context without ever straying too far afield I cared about the people and was interested to find out what happened to them He also honors those who died The numerous historical photos were a bonus My favorite parts The development of the relationship between the native people, rud to be hostile, and the survivors and soldiers their interactions could have gone awry very easily The anthropological information about these isolated native people, what their lives were like, how they viewed the outsiders, why they acted as they did this was all based on research and interviews with the native people involved I found it fascinating The ingenuity and creative thinking employed throughout the rescue attemptContent includes descriptions of painful injuries, death, and rituals surrounding tribal warfare Recommended to those with an interest in anthropology, the history of WWII, or stories of survival under extreme conditions.