Gerry Beane's Reviews > Lost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II

Lost in Shangri-la by Mitchell Zuckoff
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Aug 13, 12

bookshelves: history, non-fiction
Read in August, 2012

Wow! This is a fascinating story about a relatively forgotten incident of a military plane crash and subsequent rescue near the end of World War II. Although it made headlines at the time, it was shortly thereafter overshadowed by the use of the secret atomic bomb to bring Japan to its knees in total surrender, thus ending the second World War.

When the crash occurred, though, it held the American public enthralled. Here was a story like no other during the war. A military plane was used to overfly a previously unknown, uncharted area and had been 'discovered' by a pilot while searching for military assets. The pilot had seen natives he described as like none he was aware of anywhere else in the world. They were a tall black race living in what appeared from the air as stone age conditions but in an organized society. There were no apparent landing spots nor any access by land, so it was assumed this society had developed for thousands of years with no contact from the 'modern' world.

The mystery was too much to ignore, so a series of 'sight seeing' flights occurred. On this particular tragic flight, the unknown terrain caused the plane to crash on the side of a mountain, killing all aboard except for 4 passengers, 2 WACS and 2 male soldiers. Their story of survival is as fascinating as any fictional account of survival in a foreign land or planet.

The book was extremely well-researched. The author contacted as many of those actually involved in the incident as we're still alive, including some of the natives who were mere teenagers at the time. Between the memories of survivors, military records, diaries and photographs, the author, Michael Zuckoff, has crafted an adventure story that must rank among the most incredible in history! Although it gets off to a relatively slow start, the persistent reader will be rewarded immensely with this story of adventure, history, romance, danger, tragedy and pathos - and it's all true. I began reading on a Sunday morning and it consumed my day until I finished the book in one sitting. Riveting!

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Melissa (new)

Melissa I've heard about this story since I was a little girl. My grandfather was one of the brave paratroopers who rescued the survivors of that plane crash. Sgt. Don Ruiz. It wasn't until just recently that I actually got to hear in depth and with profound understanding realize just how amazing and heroic my grandfather and the rescuers truly were. My uncle told the story with details I never knew of, at my grandfathers funeral last weekend. He passed away at age 98. I have since had to go through my grandfathers belongings and have found boxes and boxes of photos he had kept of his days in the U.S. Army as Staff Sergeant of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion Filipino Regiment, letters of Commendation from General Mac Arthur and an old National Geographic with an article about the rescue mission. I never knew there was even a book written about this. I just happened to google my grandfathers name and this website and book came up. I can't wait to read it. I wish my grandfather would have been able to read it. For he too was unaware that this book had been written. RIP Don S. Ruiz, Aug. 5, 1914- Aug. 10, 2012.


Gerry Beane Melissa, you must be VERY proud! I was immediately touched by the compassion and positive attitude shown by Sgt. Ruiz. It is those characteristics that, I believe, can make the difference between life and death in situations like those described in the book. I feel very lucky that you saw these reviews of the book and made contact through the goodreads web site! Thanks for your email and let me know what you think of the book.
Gerry Beane
Manheim, PA


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