Author : Mitchell Zuckoff ISBN : 0061988340 Publisher : Harper

During the World War II, General McArthur, prior to the Philippines invasion, established his headquarters in a strategic location within the wild mountains of Dutch New Guinea. Colonel Peter Prossen rewarded the soldiers for their integrity with air-sightseeing tours to an unmapped valley called Shangri La, which was known for its enigmatic beauty and was believed to be inhabited by spear-bearing natives.

May 13, 1945: On one such tour, a military transport plane consisting of 24 US military servicemen including 9 members of the Women's Army Corps crashed, killing several and leaving only 3 survivors - Margaret Hastings, John McCollom, and Kenneth Decker, who are left to find their way through the hostile environment that serves as shelter for a group of non-civilized natives, believed to be cannibals.

Dehydrated and self-nursing severe wounds with no source of nutrition, the three terribly injured Americans crawl their way through the stone age jungle, steering clear of the Japanese snipers camouflaged around the mountains, and hoping to encounter a rescue team. Lost in Shangri La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II is the stupefying yet enlightening story of the trio's escape through the black-ridden mountains, while the colonel is left with a previously untested rescue strategy to locate and bail the survivors out of the unwelcoming plateau.

Lost in Shangri La is certainly not a book that glorifies the US military. No, it's not. Its essence emanates the scent of patience, courage, and confrontation, while the real-life characters see beyond pain as they choke on what's forced into their throats - hostility; a test where the background of chaos seems to have come forefront, but it only seems. War, ever done? External, yes, certainly. But that is only the background. There exists a within and it only takes a little cogitation to realize that it supersedes the outer.

World War stories have been coming up well after the planet realized pacification, most of them speaking the war aspect of it while a select few depicting the soldiers' stability and determination. And here's one that speaks of man's ability to withstand the force of malevolence and dyspathy, while brightening his innate ability to unite. The author does not make a hero out of the 3 survivors, he presents to us their experience; the rescue team involving the medics, paratroopers, and other support personnel, not to mention the natives who in fact played a major role in their rescue.

Writing is delivering. Multi-award holder Mitchell Zuckoff puts forth the incident as real time experiences, instigating one to see beyond the tangible constraints during a hostile situation and seek the being that is acting the part. Mitchell, a professor of journalism at the Boston University, presents the scene unadulterated; the characters' vulnerability is exposed for all to see through. The narration is explicit; the master of investigative reporting has indeed served the true purpose of the happening several years ago - laying it out for the brotherhood to take in, to absorb or get absorbed.

Readers become spectators as they gain access to the portal that leads to the vantage point where eon meets eon.

Nhut Pham

Nhut Pham

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