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“A truly incredible adventure.” (New York Times Book Review)
“[A] gripplingly cinematic account. . . . A remarkable cast of characters. . . . A.” (Entertainment Weekly)
“This is an absorbing adventure right out of the Saturday-morning serials. . . . Lost in Shangri-La deserves a spot on
the shelf of Greatest Generation nonfiction. It puts the reader smack into the jungle. ” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
“Zuckoff transforms impressive research into a deft narrative that brings the saga of the survivors to life.”
(Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Zuckoff delivers a remarkable survival story. . . . In this well-crafted book, Zuckoff turns the long-forgotten episode
into an unusually exciting narrative. . . . Polished, fast-paced and immensely readable―ready for the big screen.”
(Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“[An] engaging story. . . . This excellent book will be enjoyed by anyone who loves true adventure stories.” (Library
Journal (starred review))
“A riveting tale in the hands of a good storyteller. . . . LOST IN SHANGRI-LA is the most thrilling book, fiction or
nonfiction, that I have read since I can’t remember when.” (Seattle Times)
“Mitchell Zuckoff has uncovered, and vividly reconstructed, such an astonishing tale. . . . Zuckoff skillfully builds
narrative tension and deft character portraits. . . . . He has pulled off a remarkable feat ― and held the reader firmly
in the grip.” (David Grann, Washington Post)
From the Back Cover
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.
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