Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II

Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II

by Mitchell Zuckoff


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A New York Times bestseller, the extraordinary World War II mission to rescue survivors of a U.S. military plane crash in an isolated corner of the South Pacific, and the ancient indigenous tribe members that aided those stranded on the ground in this "Shangri-La."
Award-winning former Boston Globe reporter Mitchell Zuckoffunleashes the exhilarating, untold story of an extraordinary World War IIrescue mission, where a plane crash in the South Pacific plunged a trio of U.S.military personnel into a land that time forgot. Fans of Hampton Sides’ Ghost Soldiers, Marcus Luttrell’s Lone Survivor, and David Grann’s The Lost Cityof Z will be captivated by Zuckoff’s masterfullyrecounted, all-true story of danger, daring, determination, and discovery injungle-clad New Guinea during the final days of WWII.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061988356
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/24/2012
Series: P.S. Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 81,680
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Mitchell Zuckoff is the Sumner M. Redstone Professor of Narrative Studies at Boston University. He covered 9/11 for the Boston Globe and wrote the lead news story on the day of the attacks. Zuckoff is the author of seven previous works of nonfiction, including the number one New York Times bestseller 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, which became the basis of the Paramount Pictures movie of the same name. His earlier books also include the New York Times bestsellers Lost in Shangri-La and Frozen in Time. As a member of the Boston Globe Spotlight Team, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting and the winner of numerous national awards. He lives outside Boston.

Read an Excerpt

Lost in Shangri-La

A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II
By Mitchell Zuckoff


Copyright © 2011 Mitchell Zuckoff
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061988349

Chapter One

On a rainy day in May 1945, a Western Union messenger made
his rounds through the quiet village of Owego, in upstate New
York. Just outside downtown, he turned onto McMaster Street, a
row of modest, well-kept homes shaded by sturdy elm trees. He
slowed to a stop at a green, farm-style house with a small porch
and empty flower boxes. As he approached the door, the messenger
prepared for the hardest part of his job: delivering a telegram
from the U.S. War Department.
Directly before him, proudly displayed in a front window,
hung a small white banner with a red border and a blue star at its
center. Similar banners hung in windows all through the village,
each one to honor a young man, or in a few cases a young woman,
gone to war. American troops had been fighting in World War II
since 1941, and some blue-star banners had already been replaced
by banners with gold stars, signifying a loss for a larger gain and a
permanently empty place at a family's dinner table.
Inside the blue-star home where the messenger stood was
Patrick Hastings, a sixty-eight-year-old widower. With his wire rim
glasses, his neatly trimmed silver hair, and the serious set of his
mouth, Patrick Hastings bore a striking resemblance to the new
president, Harry S. Truman, who'd taken office a month earlier
upon the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
A son of Irish immigrants, Patrick Hastings grew up a farm
boy across the border in Pennsylvania. After a long engagement,
he married his sweetheart, schoolteacher Julia Hickey, and they'd
moved to Owego to find work and raise a family. As the years
passed, Patrick rose through the maintenance department at a
local factory owned by the Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company, which
churned out combat boots and officers' dress shoes for the U.S.
Army. Together with Julia, he reared three bright, lively daughters.
Now, though, Patrick Hastings lived alone. Six years earlier, a
fatal infection had struck Julia's heart. Their home's barren flower
boxes were visible signs of her absence and his solitary life.
Their two younger daughters, Catherine and Rita, had
married and moved away. Blue-star banners hung in their homes, too,
each one for a husband in the service. But the blue-star banner in
Patrick Hastings's window wasn't for either of his sons-in-law. It
honored his strong-willed eldest
daughter, Corporal Margaret
Hastings of the Women's Army
Corps, the WACs.
Sixteen months earlier, in
January 1944, Margaret Hastings
had walked into a recruiting
station in the nearby city of
Binghamton. There, she signed
her name and took her place
among the first generation of
women to serve in the U.S.
military. Margaret and thousands
of other WACs were dispatched
to war zones around the world,
mostly filling desk jobs on bases
well back from the front lines.
Still, her father worried, knowing
that Margaret was in a strange, faraway land: New Guinea,
an untamed island just north of Australia. Margaret was based
at a U.S. military compound on the island's eastern half, an area
known as Dutch New Guinea.
By the middle of 1945, the military had outsourced the delivery
of bad news, and its bearers had been busy: the combat death
toll among Americans neared 300,000. More than a 100,000 other
Americans had died noncombat deaths. More than 600,000 had
been wounded. Blue-star families had good reason to dread the
sight of a Western Union messenger approaching the door.
On this day, misery had company. As the messenger rang
Patrick Hastings's doorbell, Western Union couriers with nearly
identical telegrams were en route to twenty-three other star-banner
homes with loved ones in Dutch New Guinea. The messengers
fanned out across the country, to rural communities including
Shippenville, Pennsylvania; Trenton, Missouri; and Kelso,
Washington, and to urban centers including New York, Philadelphia,
and Los Angeles.


Excerpted from Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff Copyright © 2011 by Mitchell Zuckoff. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

A Note to the Reader xi

1 Missing 1

2 Hollandia 5

3 Shangri-La 19

4 Gremlin Special 31

5 Eureka! 44

6 Charms 58

7 Tarzan 71

8 Gentleman Explorer 80

9 Guilt and Gangrene 92

10 Earl Walter, Junior and Senior 104

11 Uwambo 115

12 Wimayuk Wandik, aka "Chief Pete" 128

13 Come What May 141

14 Five-by-Five 152

15 No Thanksgiving 162

16 Rammy and Doc 173

17 Custer and Company 181

18 Bathtime for Yugwe 195

19 "Shoo, Shoo Baby" 204

20 "Hey, Martha!" 217

2 Promised Land 232

22 Hollywood 243

23 Gliders? 255

24 Two Queens 268

25 Snatch 285

Epilogue: After Shangri-La 298

Cast of Characters 317

Acknowledgments 322

Note on Sources and Methods 327

Notar 329

Select Bibliography 368

Index 371

What People are Saying About This

David Grann

“Mitchell Zuckoff has uncovered, and vividly reconstructed, such an astonishing tale. . . . Zuckoff skillfully builds narrative tension and deft character portraits. . . . . He has pulled off a remarkable feat — and held the reader firmly in the grip.”

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