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.
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
Mon. - Thurs. 10 am - 9 pm
Fri. - Sat. 10 am - 6 pm
Sun. 1 pm - 5 pm