History is filled with amazing stories -- heroic, tragic, awesome, and even unlikely -- but without someone to recount those tales, they would be lost to those of us who didn't live them. Mitchell Zuckoff's Lost In Shangri-La is one of those stories.
Twenty-four US military men and women boarded The Gremlin Special on May 13, 1945. Theirs was not an official military mission nor was it part of a larger campaign, it was simply an afternoon site-seeing trip. Each of the men and women on board was stationed in Hollandia in Dutch New Guinea. The plane ride was supposed to take them over a newly discovered valley on the island recently dubbed "Shangri-La." A tragic series of events brought the plane down and only three people survived. For Lt. John McCollom, Sgt. Ken Decker, and WAC Col. Margaret Hastings, it would be only the beginning of their ordeal. Badly injured, the three knew that they would never be found unless they could make their way out of the rain forest and into clear sight. Even then, the terrain would prove a challenge to those attempting rescue.
The crash of The Gremlin Special, the survivors' tales, and the rescue attempt that followed are spectacular indeed. With the use of first-hand interviews, military documents, and accounts of those involved, Zuckoff brings to life this extraordinary event, ensuring it a permanent and unforgettable place in history.
Zuckoff's writing is engaging and approachable for even the most hard core fiction reader. The fact that every page is completely true just makes it that much more intense. Zuckoff also fleshes out the story by including bits of WWII military history, the history of New Guinea, and a look at the natives of the island as well. Equally fascinating are the P.S. inclusions in the new paperback edition -- personal letters from friends and family of those involved written to the author after reading the book.
For more on Lost In Shangri-La, visit Zuckoff's website (link above). I'd also recommend that you check out Jon Stewart's Daily Show interview with Zuckoff here - entertaining and informative (and sure to pique your interest even more).
For a full list of Lost In Shangri-La blog tour stops visit the TLC Book Tours page here.