Friday, October 25, 2013

Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff (CBR-V #41)

Cannonball Read V: Book #41/52
Published: 2011
Pages: 384
Genre: Nonfiction/History

 Lost in Shangri-la is a non-fiction account of a group of soldiers stationed in New Guinea during World War II. In the middle of the island was a flat valley that was home to thousands of native tribes that had never seen the outside world. During a scenic tour over the valley, an American plane crashed into a mountainside, killing most of the passengers. One of the survivors was a member of the WOC (Women's Army Corps) named Margaret Hastings. She, along with the two other survivors, John McCollum (who lost his twin brother in the crash) and Kenneth Decker, have to survive in the jungle amidst possibly hostile native tribes until they can be rescued. On top of everything, they are doing all of this with horrific burns and injuries from the crash. 

A huge problem is that the valley they crashed in is impossible to land a plane on. Hiking miles and miles through rough terrain isn't an option with their injuries. They end up being stranded for weeks while rescue missions are figured out. The stranded trio ends up befriending some people in a local native tribe and I found those parts to be some of the most fascinating in the book. 

Although this is a very interesting story, I kind of felt like it would make a better article than book. It was fairly short, but got bogged down with boring details that seemed like filler (did we REALLY need that many mind-numbing details on the history of every aircraft that made an appearance in the story?). However, if you skim over those parts the survival story is a fascinating one that's worth reading.

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