Lost in Shangri-La

Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff starts in May 1945. The war in the south Pacific is raging. For those stationed on New Guinea all is relatively quiet. The island is mountainous and the interior is largely uncharted. While flying over the interior a pilot makes a startling discovery. There is a large valley and it appears to be inhabited by natives who look right out of the stone age.

It becomes a rite of passage to go visit the valley. The army members who have been there even have a club called the "Shangri-La Club." A plane takes off on a beautiful day. Col. Peter Possen who has organized the flight as a treat for his staff, has left the cockpit and is in back chatting with his staff when the inexperienced pilot runs into trouble. The plane slams into a mountain, falls to the ground and bursts into flames. 3 people survive the crash. 21 people have died. When the plane doesn't return to the base search parties are sent out.

The plane had been painted a camouflage pattern so it would blend in with the jungle if it was being viewed from above. Unfortunately this same paint made it impossible for the rescuers to see the plane crash site. The only people who knew where the plane was were the 3 survivors and the rumored cannibal natives who were watching them. The natives turn out to be not hostile but curious. For the injured survivors they look like saviours.

The story continues through the search and the ultimate rescue of the survivors. It is the rescue that makes this story so interesting. I will not divulge how they are rescued but I'll say there was some ingenuity in the solution.

Zuckoff writes a good action story. He takes an interesting piece of history and lets the reader know exactly how interesting it was. This is a survival story that is well told. A story about modern age warriors meeting a stone age people who help each other out. An all around interesting read.

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