addressalign-toparrow-leftarrow-rightbackbellblockcalendarcameraccwchatcheckchevron-downchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-small-downchevron-small-leftchevron-small-rightchevron-small-upchevron-upcircle-with-checkcircle-with-crosscircle-with-pluscrosseditemptyheartexportfacebookfolderfullheartglobegmailgoogleimageimagesinstagramlinklocation-pinmagnifying-glassmailminusmoremuplabelShape 3 + Rectangle 1outlookpersonplusprice-ribbonImported LayersImported LayersImported Layersshieldstartickettrashtriangle-downtriangle-uptwitteruseryahoo

January Book Group Meeting, Alternative Meeting

Please join us for a book discussion. The January book is Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff.

In the past, people have frequently been disappointed because they had read the book but "LIFE" interrupted their plans to attend the Thursday night discussion. For January we will try offering 2 discussions on the book: 1 discussion at the normal time on Thursday, January 17 and 1 discussion on Saturday, January 19. Choose the date/time that best fits your schedule: attend one or attend both.


On May 13, 1945, twenty-four officers and enlisted men and women stationed on what was then Dutch New Guinea boarded a transport plane named the Gremlin Special for a sightseeing trip over "Shangri-La," a beautiful and mysterious valley surrounded by steep, jagged mountain peaks deep within the island's uncharted jungle.

But the pleasure tour became an unforgettable battle for survival when the plane crashed. Miraculously, three passengers pulled through. Margaret Hastings, barefoot and burned, had no choice but to wear her dead best friend’s shoes. John McCollom, grieving the death of his twin brother also aboard the plane, masked his grief with stoicism. Kenneth Decker, too, was severely burned and suffered a gaping head wound.

Emotionally devastated, badly injured, and vulnerable to the hidden dangers of the jungle, the trio faced certain death unless they left the crash site. Unlike the peaceful Tibetan monks of James Hilton’s bestselling novel Lost Horizon, this Shangri-La was home to spear-carrying tribesmen, warriors rumored to be cannibals.Caught between man-eating headhunters and enemy Japanese, the wounded passengers endured a harrowing hike down the mountainside—a journey into the unknown that would lead them straight into a primitive tribe of superstitious natives who had never before seen a white man—or woman.

Drawn from interviews, declassified U.S. Army documents, personal photos and mementos, a survivor’s diary, a rescuer’s journal, and original film footage, Lost in Shangri-La recounts this incredible true-life adventure for the first time. Mitchell Zuckoff reveals how the determined trio—dehydrated, sick, and in pain—traversed the dense jungle to find help; how a brave band of paratroopers risked their own lives to save the survivors; and how a cowboy colonel attempted a previously untested rescue mission to get them out.

By trekking into the New Guinea jungle, visiting remote villages, and rediscovering the crash site, Zuckoff also captures the contemporary natives’ remembrances of the long-ago day when strange creatures fell from the sky. A riveting work of narrative nonfiction that vividly brings to life an odyssey at times terrifying, enlightening, and comic, Lost in Shangri-La is a thrill ride from beginning to end.

The Three Survivors: Decker, Hastings, and McCollum

Book Availability at the Howard Count Public Library

Lost In Shangra-La is available for checkout at the Howard County Public Library:

(19) copies of the book.

(6) sets of book-on-CD.

(4) copies of large-print books.

(1) ebook.

I have put in a request to have 8 copies of the book reserved for our book club. The books will be held at the Central Branch and should be available for checkout starting on December 20. They will be at the fiction help desk on the first floor of the Library and are held under the book club name "Meetup." Tell the Librarian that you are a member of the "Meetup" book club and you can check the book out using your Library card. The address and hours for the Central Branch are:

Howard County Library Central Branch

10375 Little Patuxent Pkwy

Columbia, MD 21044


Branch Hours

Mon. - Thurs. 10 am - 9 pm

Fri. - Sat. 10 am - 6 pm

Sun. 1 pm - 5 pm

Join or login to comment.

  • Maxine F.

    Small and intimate, but good discussion with the few who were there. Overall, everyone really liked the book.

    January 19, 2013

  • Wayne M.

    One final question for us to think about and discuss at our meeting is:

    Meeting the American and Filipino soldiers left a mark on the Dani people. Do you think the meeting had a positive effect on the Dani? What was one of your favorite stories shared by the modern villagers about the impact of the soldiers?

    January 16, 2013

  • Wayne M.

    Another question for us to think about so that we can discuss it at our meeting is:

    What would it feel like to be dropped, literally, from the mid-20th century into the stone age? How would you cope? Had you survived the crash of the Gremlin, what would be most difficult for you—pain, lack of food and water, personal hygiene, fear, waiting...and waiting for rescue?

    January 14, 2013

  • Wayne M.

    Hi everyone, I hope that your reading is going well. As you are reading "Lost in Shangri-La", here is a question for you to think about so that we can discuss it at our meeting:

    The story of the rescue mission told in Lost in Shangri-La was not well-known in recent years. Did this surprise you? How much did you know about World War II as it affected this part of the world before reading this book? What did you learn about the war for the first time while reading?

    January 12, 2013

  • Wayne M.

    Hi, just a quick note to let you know that our reserve of "Lost in Shangri-La" books are available for check-out at the Howard County Library Central Branch. Tonight while volunteering at the Library, I was pleasantly surprised to see that 5 copies of our book were waiting and available to be checked-out by members of our book club. The remaining 3 copies that I reserved will be available tomorrow night, December 20. Our reserved books are at the Fiction Desk which is on the first floor behind the stairs. The 8 books are being held for members of the "MEETUP" book club. You can check the books out for 3 weeks using your Library card and if there are no holds on the book when it is to be returned, you can renew your check-out for another 3 weeks. Our books are reserved and being held at the Central Library:

    10375 Little Patuxent Pkwy
    Columbia, MD 21044

    December 20, 2012

8 went

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy