Meandering Em's

Passion is books, photography, running and traveling. Also passionate about environmental issues.

Lost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II - Mitchell Zuckoff I enjoy reading history books, although events around World War II have never really interested me. However, this book fascinated me, mainly because it is not about battles or military strategies. A sight-seeing flight with military personnel crashes into a mountain in the heart of New Guinea. This isolated area of New Guinea is in the interior of the island filled with cannibals and possibly Japanese soldiers. There are three survivors of the crash and two of those are wounded and burned. Somehow, they make it down a stream to an exposed area hoping to be spotted and rescued. There, the survivors are spied by a plane looking for them. As they wait for rescue, they meet the natives.The rest of the book explores the different options for rescue. There were no airplane runways and there weren't any suitable landing areas for any type of rescue machine. The valley where the survivors were waiting is surrounded by huge mountains that are difficult to fly over. The military did not believe that the helicopters would work. After a month, a dangerous plan was devised and implemented. Although it succeeded, it was scary for all concerned.I debated whether I should give this book 4 or 5 stars. I finally decided on 5 stars because I can't think of anything to criticize. The book was very readable. The author clearly and succinctly gave the background of every important player in the the crash and rescue, so you feel as if you know the people and their personalities. He used personal diaries of two of the people which made the story even more pertinent and realistic. Zuckoff went to New Guinea (Papua, Indonesia today) and interviewed the natives who met the survivors. I found this the most interesting part of the book. He compared and contrasted the reactions of the survivors and the natives to the same event. Some stories are quite hilarious, showing the large cultural divide between the two. Interwoven with the main story line, is a brief history of the American fighting in the Philippines, the service and dangers facing the WACs, and the history and beliefs of the people we now know as Papuans. I heartily recommend this book, especially if you enjoy history, anthropology and geography.

Currently reading

The Waiting Years
Fumiko Enchi
Progress: 94/208 pages
Project Puffin: The Improbable Quest to Bring a Beloved Seabird Back to Egg Rock
Derrick Z. Jackson, Stephen W. Kress
Progress: 33/376 pages