Lost in Shangri-la by Mitchell Zuckoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads: Award-winning former "Boston Globe" reporter Mitchell Zuckoff unleashes the exhilarating, untold story of an extraordinary World War II rescue mission, where a plane crash in the South Pacific plunged a trio of U.S. military personnel into a land that time forgot. Fans of Hampton Sides' "Ghost Soldiers," Marcus Luttrell's "Lone Survivor," and David Grann's "The Lost City of Z "will be captivated by Zuckoff's masterfully recounted, all-true story of danger, daring, determination, and discovery in jungle-clad New Guinea during the final days of WWII.
My thoughts: This is a well researched and documented true story of the airplane crash at the end of WWII. In an effort to build morale and comraderie, airplane trips were scheduled and executed to a beautiful and inaccessible valley where savages lived their quiet and supposedly cannibalistic life on the island of New Guinea. An army outpost, located 150 miles from the village, housed a number of men and women on the island that boasted the native headhunters and Japanese holdouts. Leaving the army confines could prove quite dangerous.
Like Gilligan and the rest of the Minnow passengers, the Gremlin's three hour tour was pushed off schedule. After flying over the native village, the airplane hit a down draft and the co-pilot, being inexperienced flying in such a narrow valley and high altitude, was unable to compensate. The plane crashed with all 24 passengers aboard. 5 walked or were carried out. 4 were critically injured. Two more died. The remaining 3 survivors had to hike to a more exposed terrain in order to be sighted by their colleagues. This would expose them to the cannibals and/or Japanese. Two of the survivors were critically injured and would die if medical assistance was not found.
This is their story and the heroic efforts made to bring them back to camp. This is also the anthropological introduction to the native people of New Guinea who killed one another tribe vs. tribe for sport, wore coverings of sticks and gourds and I won't tell you where they wore their gourds but it was the men who wore them. It is an amazing story but also very human and compassionate. Many friends died on the airplane. Much effort to honor those fallen was taken.
The story is factual and not dressed up in any extra layers. This book is perfect for readers who find anthropology and history fascinating.
*I received a free copy of this book from publishing company in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.