Lost in Shangri-La

Edition: Reprint
Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 2012-04-24
Publisher(s): Perennial
List Price: $16.99

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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.

Author Biography

Mitchell Zuckoff is a professor of journalism at Boston University and a former special projects reporter for the Boston Globe, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for investigative reporting. He lives outside Boston.

Table of Contents

A Note to the Readerp. xi
Missingp. 1
Hollandiap. 5
Shangri-Lap. 19
Gremlin Specialp. 31
Eureka!p. 44
Charmsp. 58
Tarzanp. 71
Gentleman Explorerp. 80
Guilt and Gangrenep. 92
Earl Walter, Junior and Seniorp. 104
Uwambop. 115
Wimayuk Wandik, aka "Chief Pete"p. 128
Come What Mayp. 141
Five-by-Fivep. 152
No Thanksgivingp. 162
Rammy and Docp. 173
Custer and Companyp. 181
Bathtime for Yugwep. 195
"Shoo, Shoo Baby"p. 204
"Hey, Martha!"p. 217
Promised Landp. 232
Hollywoodp. 243
Gliders?p. 255
Two Queensp. 268
Snatchp. 285
Epilogue: After Shangri-Lap. 298
Cast of Charactersp. 317
Acknowledgmentsp. 322
Note on Sources and Methodsp. 327
Notarp. 329
Select Bibliographyp. 368
Indexp. 371
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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