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Lost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  44,937 ratings  ·  2,975 reviews
“A lost world, man-eating tribesmen, lush and impenetrable jungles, stranded American fliers (one of them a dame with great gams, for heaven's sake), a startling rescue mission. . . . This is a true story made in heaven for a writer as talented as Mitchell Zuckoff. Whew—what an utterly compelling and deeply satisfying read!" —Simon Winchester, author of Atlantic
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published April 26th 2011 by HarperCollins Publishers (NYC)
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Glenn Gray I agree with David Bowman. It is an enjoyable read that could easily be managed by any reader with high school or better reading skills.

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Average rating 3.86  · 
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Start your review of Lost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II
Will Byrnes
Jan 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Mitchell Zuckoff in Papua New Guinea, next to the wreckage of the Gremlin Special - image from BU Today - photo by Buzz Maxey

I bet you watched at least some TV coverage of the rescue of Chilean miners in 2010. The whole world did. In 1945 there was comparable interest in a remarkable rescue. People followed the search and then the rescue attempts for weeks. But a few small events, like the first use of nuclear weapons and the subsequent end of the war, pushed the story out of the public eye. Wh
Jeffrey Keeten
Jul 08, 2012 rated it really liked it

"The cabin crumbled forward toward the cockpit. The walls of the fuselage collapsed as though sucked inward. Both wings ripped away. The tail section snapped off like a balsa-wood toy. Flames shot through the wreckage. Small explosions rang out like gunshots. Black smoke choked off the light. The air grew bitter with the stench of burning metal, burning leather, burning rubber, burning wires, burning oil, burning cloths, burning hair, burning flesh."

It wasn't easy getting a seat on the Greml
I have said it before, and I'll say it again: The jungles of the earth must be DESTROYED. *

* Before you break your fingers on your keyboard in your haste to flame me for that comment take a moment to ask yourself if I might be joking.

In the last months of World War II as America worked its way towards Japan a plane load of military personnel took off for a sightseeing tour of a remote valley in New Guinea that had been dubbed Shangri-La. Previous flights had noted tribes of natives numbering in
Nov 03, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The story is compelling enough: a U.S. army plane crashes in a remote, inaccessible part of New Guinea killing nearly everyone on board. Three people survive, two men and a woman. Two are severely injured. They need to trek through the jungle to a clearing, so they can be spotted and rescued. Rescuers will have a tough time not only getting in, but due to the geographic problems, getting them out will be near impossible.

Did I mention that the area is inhabited by war-like Stone-Age cannibals?

Jan 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
How is this not a Hollywood epic movie? WWII Plane crash in the jungle; survivors include a beautiful, plucky, injured WAC; Stone Age lost civilization; rescue mission by paratroopers; tabloid exploitation by news media and government; impending loss of “innocence” as the modern world intrudes into “Shangri-La”. All of it true and expertly covered in the Four Star Lost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War IIa. Highly recommended. ...more
The only regret I have about reading Lost in Shangri-La now is that I can't put it on a library best list until December 2012. It was that good!

You'd think with all the stories written with regards to World War II that all had been told. And then along comes another and you're amazed that you never heard anything about this one. Lost in Shangri-La is such a story.

On Sunday, May 13, 1945, Colonel Peter Prossen planned a special outing for some of his staff, a flight to view a remote valley known
♥ Sandi ❣
3.75 stars

This is the type of non fiction book that I really enjoy. It read like a fiction story - not dry, and not fact after fact. You met and had time to learn about each character, time to understand the plot and take in the overall story line. The author narrated the audio and did a great job.

This book tells the story of the Gremlin Special that went down in New Guinea in May 1945 with 24 people aboard. Three people lived. This is their story - how they survived, how they traveled and how
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you like pork and sweet potatoes maybe you would have liked living among the New Guinea natives back in the 30s or 40s, or if you liked tropical jungles that look like paradise, you may love living in one, but you would also have to worry about jungle rot, malaria, elephantiasis, and dengue fever just to mention a few. I rather wished that I lived in the jungle, but a tame one without jungle rot…

Well, the first chapter put me in a deep funk, which was totally unexpected. All I knew about the
Dec 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Lost in Shangri-la is extremely entertaining and seems well-researched. A true tale of survival, set against a backdrop of WWII, that is hard to put down!

Very well done by Mitchell Zuckoff. I would definitely be interested in picking up more of his work!
Joy D
Non-fiction written as a compelling narrative of the survivors of a plane crash in “Shangri-La” (named after the valley in the James Hilton novel Lost Horizon) in Dutch New Guinea near the end of WWII. Faced with limited food and serious injuries, not to mention the perils of the jungle, the survivors must find a way to get rescued or face travel over hundreds of miles of dense forest filled with warring natives and Japanese in hiding. Once they were discovered missing, the U.S. military had to ...more
Patrick Peterson
2021-02-13 Just finished reading the book, though not the endnotes, since they were not referenced within the text.

I liked the book, but did not think it outstanding.
Very detailed history of this funky incident during the end of WWII in northern New Guinea, where a planeload (21) of WACs and other US military personnel were killed in a sight-seeing accident, except for one WAC and two men. Their survival and rescue by some very brave and skilled paratroopers was quite a story. Interactions with
Lost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival has been on my TBR list ever since I read I read Zuckoff’s Frozen in Time, and while the two have very different paths, there’s a commonality in their stories, somewhat similar to Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken: A World War II Book of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.

All three stories will leave you in awe of the strength of these men and women’s spirits, their will to not only survive but especially in Lost in Shangri-La, how their spirits thrive
Carolyn Walsh
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rereading, favorites
"Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II","Mitchell Zuckoff".
A great, true, little known adventure and rescue story which occurred during the closing days of WW2. The detail and meticulous research more than 60 years later is amazing, as were the photos, diaries and war records the author was able to gather. He even interviewed some of the natives who were still alive, and witnessed what happened, and had never seen a white
Apr 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Lost in Shangri-la tells the true story of the fatal plane crash in May, 1945 of 24 U.S. Army servicemen and WAC's on a pleasure tour of the remote New Guinean jungle with only 3 survivors. This incredible story details their encounter with the local natives, their horrific life-threatening injuries, and the dangerous conditions of the rescue mission while still adding in a bit of humor. Amazing historical read! ...more
Jan 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, travel
Shangri-La. What exactly is that?! I had always assumed that Shangri-La referred to either the all-girl pop band from the 60s, or was a generic name for seedy motels of questionable repute (ie Andrew McCarthy's very bad TV movie, The Courtyard). I was unexpectedly enlightened when I recently picked up Mitchell Zuckoff's book, Lost in Shangri-La: Escape from a Hidden World, A True Story.

Shangri-La was a fictional valley in the Himalayas created by James Hilton in his 1933 novel entitled Lost Hori
A.L. Sowards
Here’s what I liked about this book: the author did his research and stuck to the facts. If there was snappy dialog, it was from a letter or a diary or an interview. And the characters were interesting. There were the three survivors of the crash: a beautiful, unconventional WAC; a brave leader who just lost his twin brother; a stoic guy with really awesome one-liners. And there was the young paratrooper with something to prove sent to rescue them. The author didn’t make stuff up. But unfortunat ...more
Dec 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is SO not what I was expecting. A plane goes down in New Guinea in WW2 and only 3 people survive and have to find a way out of the jungle surrounded by cannibals stuck in the Stone Age and perhaps rogue Japanese soldiers. Shouldn't that be exciting? It should, but this book is strangely unemotional, disconnected and boring. What tension the author tries to inject is obviously manufactured. I really wanted to like this book, but it is a strong 1 1/2 stars. ...more
Elyse Walters
Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Grab some "Color-by-color" hard candies (reds, greens, yellows, and so on), start sucking and start reading this book!
Wow--What an adventure ride. My GOD!!!

I thought I was waiting to read this book WHY???

I KNEW I wanted to read this book (the first week it was released when I just happened to be in Barnes and Noble and discover it myself 'before' hearing others talk about it)....
Why did I wait?
I had just read "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand
I also read..."Even Silence Has An End" by Ingrid Beta
As the blurb states, three months before the end of WWII, a military plane on a sightseeing tour (a perk for the Military staff) crashes in a remote and unvisited part of of the Indonesian state of Papua - this is the western half of the main island of Papua New Guinea. At the time, this was under Dutch control, as with all of Indonesia, which became independent immediately after the Japanese surrender - so while this was all happening. The plane was a Douglass DC-3, known during the war as a C- ...more
Dec 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
A plane crashes in WWII New Guinea, and this nonfiction book chronicles the increasingly ludicrous efforts to get them out of the hidden cannibal-infested mountain valley they landed in. It has basically nothing to do with James Hilton's Lost Horizon, the book that invented "Shangri-La"; that place was in Tibet. But with a story this terrific, all a writer has to do is stay out of its way. Zuckoff almost pulls that off...but he can't quite get his boner out of it.

Because he can't at all hide his
Jan 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Lost in Shangri-La is a simple, enjoyable story about a tragic plane crash and a subsequent rescue mission. It's a little slow at the start but after initial character introductions it's a smooth read. The prose is straightforward, effective, and doesn't contain overwhelming details; just enough to engage your imagination (although at some points in the book I wished for more detail about the lives of the natives). This may not be the greatest survival story ever but it's quite an interesting ad ...more
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
I wasn't expecting much from this book. I had read a book similar in location and issue, "Savage Harvest" by a completely different author about Michael Rockefeller going missing many decades ago, but after the events in this book occurred. That book was rather terrible, so I didn't have much hope that this one would be any better.

I was completely, 100% wrong.

This book is AMAZING. It deals with WWII, which is my all-time favorite historical time to read about, so it rang that bell. It was abou
Jamie Smith
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Some stories capture the world’s attention for a few days, then fade into obscurity. Who remembers Baby Jessica, who fell down a well in 1987? How long will it take for the story of the boys trapped in that cave in Thailand to become a trivia question (how many boys, and how long were they in there?) In 1945 papers and newsreels breathlessly covered a story of tragedy, courage, and endurance, including brave paratroopers, a daring rescue, and a plucky heroine with great legs. People couldn’t get ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
(Really more 3.5 stars)

I thought I was done reading books set in New Guinea but when I was flying home the only book that sounded interesting on my iPad was this story about a plane that crashes into the Baliem Valley of New Guinea during World War 2.

I know the Baliem Valley because that is where the Dani people live, and I have read multiple books about them. They are the group Michael Rockefeller photographed before traipsing into the jungle for art, that Peter Mattheiessen wrote about in the
Historical Fiction
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

I'm not sure who decided to dub Mitchell Zuckoff's Lost in Shangri-La a thrill ride in the blurb, but I respectfully disagree with the assessment. I mean no offense, but the book put me to sleep on multiple occasions and that's not an experience I associate with heart-pounding, adrenaline inducing excitement.

To be clear, I liked the content. There's a certain novelty to the subject matter and I enjoyed digging into a story t
George Ilsley
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history, ww2
Takes place during WW2 but is not really a war book. It's a good read about the search for a lost airplane in a remote valley in Papua New Guinea.

The challenges of this remote landscape humbled every invading army. Essentially, this is a search and rescue story with a fascinating backdrop. It's a rescue mission in a remote and challenging jungle, with a World War in the distance.
Saleh MoonWalker
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Onvan : Lost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II - Nevisande : Mitchell Zuckoff - ISBN : 61988340 - ISBN13 : 9780061988349 - Dar 384 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2011
Jane Stewart
Too many extraneous details. Author was not good as the audiobook narrator.

This is a true story - a good story. I liked the substance of it. But I’m not sure I liked the things the author chose to put in the story. It was more like journalism than a story. I’ve read other authors who take facts and make them into an engaging story. This one needed some changes if that’s the goal. But I was very engaged during the last 2/3.

My complaints:

1. The author did too much background detail on various char
This is one of the most unusual stories from World War II that I have read! In 1945, a plane carrying 24 members of the U.S. military and Women's Army Air Corps crashed in a remote jungle area in Guinea. The three survivors had no food, water, or supplies. Two of them had serious injuries. The area was so inaccessible that the native tribes who were living in primitive conditions there had never seen a white person. Japanese troops also occupied much of the surrounding area. Rescue planes could ...more
Apr 20, 2022 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting account of an incident that occurred during the waning days of WWII on the island of New Guinea. In May 1945, a group of over twenty service men and women stationed at Hollandia, New Guinea, went on a sightseeing trip aboard a C-47 plane to see a lost valley over 100 miles south dubbed as "Shangri-La" after it was discovered by one of the base's pilots. The valley contained native villages which could be seen from the air along with the natives themselves who appeared ...more
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Mitchell Zuckoff is a professor of journalism at Boston University. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers "Fall and Rise," "13 Hours," "Lost in Shangri-La," and "Frozen in Time." His previous books are: "Robert Altman: The Oral Biography," one of Amazon.com's "Best Books of 2009"; "Ponzi's Scheme," and "Choosing Naia." He is co-author of "Judgment Ridge," which was a finalist for the ...more

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