An utterly gripping non-fiction adventure narrative, 'Lost in Shangri-La' is an untold true story of war, anthropology, survival, discovery, heroism, and a near-impossible rescue mission.
Three months before the end of World War II, a U.S. Army plane flying over New Guinea’s Baliem Valley crashed in uncharted mountains inhabited by a Stone Age tribe. Nineteen passengers and crew were killed and two were mortally wounded. But somehow three survived: a lieutenant whose twin brother died in the crash, a sergeant who suffered terrible head wounds, and a beautiful member of the Women's Army Corps.
Hurt, unarmed and afraid, they prayed for deliverance - from their wounds, from the elements, and from the spear-carrying, Dani tribesmen who roamed the mountains, men who were untouched by modernity. For seven weeks, the survivors experienced one remarkable adventure after another, until they were rescued in a truly incredible mission.
Rounding out the true-life cast is a rogue filmmaker who’d left Hollywood after being exposed as a jewel-thief; a smart-alek pilot who flew best when his plane had no engine, and a cowboy colonel whose rescue plan seemed designed to increase the death toll. Using a huge range of sources, including first hand accounts from the survivors themselves, Mitchell Zukoff exposes the enlightening and terrifying adventure of three individuals lost on uncharted soil and the relationships they built not only with each other, but also with a lost civilization.
"In this fitting tribute to one of Hollywood's greatest directors, journalist Mitchell Zuckoff chronicles Altman's remarkable life both in and out of the spotlight. A rebel to the end, Altman's spirit is perfectly captured in this fascinating read. Also, he doesn’t mind including some of the real dirt here and there. I liked that choice, and I speculate that Robert Altman would have, too”". –Wes Anderson
About the author
Mitchell Zuckoff is a professor of journalism at Boston University. He is the author of '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 and 'Choosing Naia: A Family's Journey'. 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.
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 na ve, era.
Well written and well researched-this is an exciting story well told.
Really good read, a bit long winded but it helped me start to enjoy reading again :)