Overview (No Spoilers):
Lost in Shangri-La details an unbelievable story of survival and rescue in the forests of New Guinea during the end of World War II. Zuckoff captures the many political attitudes of the era toward the natives, WACs, New Guinea, and the war in general. The story is unique due to all of the diaries, radio communications, and even movie footage of the rescue. The situation this unique recorded dialogue during the survival/rescue was made possible by the opportunity to parachute rescuers in, however the challenge that dragged out for much of the book was the problem of extracting the survivors successfully from the remote valley. Making the story even more enthralling are the lively personalities and histories of the people involved in this true life adventure tale, from the beautiful Margaret Hastings, to the native leader ‘Pete.’ Zuckoff includes interviews with survivors, as well as relatives of the natives that encountered the ‘Spirits’ in Shangri-La, which does wonders to dispel the narratives of the foreigners, who often viewed the tribesmen as cannibalistic savages. I found the concept of an population of that size, untouched by outside influence, as of 1945 hard to wrap my mind around. Overall, Lost in Shangri-La was an entertaining read, however after the initial danger of the crash and of the subsequent parachuting in of rescuers, the remainder of the book highlighted the ensuing, largely uneventful spectacle of the first contact with the native people to an unexplored region.