Thursday, May 26, 2011

Book Tour and Review: Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff

Lost in Shangri-La: The Epic True Story of a Plane Crash into the Stone Age by Mitchell Zuckoff
Publisher: Harper
Publish Date: April 26, 2011
Hardcover, 400 pages 

My Review
Why I Read This:  It sounded like a fascinating premise and I'm trying to read more non-fiction.

My Thoughts:  Wow, this was a pretty amazing book.  I have said it before, but nonfiction is not my usual cup of tea.  However with such great nonfiction books out there, this is really beginning to change.   Lost in Shangri-La is one of those books.  It reads easily like a fiction book and I never got bogged down in any of the details.  There was one part early when it switched to some different characters, that seemed a little confusing, but as I kept reading I realized it was important to delve into those characters and this ended up being one of my favorite things about the book.

What really stood out was the story is about the various players in the rescue of the survivors of this crash.  I like that it didn't only focus on the survivors, but I got a look at most of the people involved in the rescue.  Mr. Zuckoff did a lot of research and some great writing to make this book turn out this interesting and informative.  Add to the story and the characters, various facts about World War II and other things going on at the time and the book is a true winner for me.  I plan on handing this one to my history buff husband next and finding out what he thinks.  One final thing that was neat was the pictures scattered throughout - it was really interesting to see pictures of those people involved during that time.  Mr. Zuckoff gets an A for effort and writing in my opinion!

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

About the Book:

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, this hidden retreat was named after the fabled paradise in the bestselling novel Lost Horizon. But unlike the peaceful Tibetan monks of James Hilton’s book, this Shangri-La was the home of Stone Age warriors—spear-carrying tribesmen rumored to be headhunters and cannibals.
But the pleasure tour became an unforgettable battle for survival when the plane crashed. Miraculously, three passengers survived—WAC Corporal Margaret Hastings, Lieutenant John McCollom, and Sergeant Kenneth Decker. Margaret, barefoot and burned, had no choice but to wear her dead best friend’s shoes. McCollom, grieving the death of his twin brother also aboard the Gremlin Special, masked his grief with stoicism. Decker, too, was severely burned and suffered a bloody, gaping head wound.
Emotionally devastated, badly injured, and vulnerable to disease, parasites, and poisonous snakes in the wet jungle climate, the trio faced certain death unless they left the wreckage. Caught between man-eating headhunters and the enemy Japanese, with nothing to sustain them but a handful of candy and their own fortitude, they endured a harrowing trek down the mountainside—an exhausting 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 personal interviews, declassified Army documents, personal photos and mementos, a daily journal kept between the crash and the rescue effort, 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 foliage to find help; how a brave band of Filipino-American paratroopers, led by a dogged captain, risked their own lives to save the survivors; how the Americans would be protected by and eventually befriend a noble native chief and his people; and how a cowboy colonel was willing to risk a previously untried rescue mission to get them out.
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.
About the Author:

Mitchell Zuckoff’s honors include the 2000 Distinguished Writing Award from the American Society of Newspaper Editors. His book Choosing Naia: A Family’s Journey was a Boston Globe bestseller and won the Christopher Award.


Mitchell’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, April 26th: Acting Balanced
Tuesday, April 26th: Silver’s Reviews
Wednesday, April 27th: Wordsmithonia
Thursday, April 28th: Man of La Book
Monday, May 2nd: The Lost Entwife
Tuesday, May 3rd: Chaotic Compendiums
Wednesday, May 4th: Dreaming About Other Worlds
Monday, May 9th: Reading Lark
Wednesday, May 11th: Life is Short. Read Fast.
Thursday, May 12th: Wandering Thoughts of a Scientific Housewife
Tuesday, May 17th: Chocolate & Croissants
Wednesday, May 18th: The Serpentine Library
Thursday, May 19th: Among Stories
Monday, May 23rd: Sarah Reads Too Much
Tuesday, May 24th: Layers of Thought
Wednesday, May 25th: A Blog About History
Thursday, May 26th: My Reading Room


Armchair BEA Day #4: Nurturing Relationships + Giveaway

Wow the week is almost over and while I have kept up with getting my own posts posted, I haven't been as good about getting around to others posts.  I am going to work on that today, and what better day than the day we are talking about nurturing relationships.
There are several topics we can talk about today, but I am going to talk about one of  my well-nurtured relationships with an author.  

Shortly after I began blogging in 2009, an author got in touch with me asking me if I would review his two books.  Both books focused on a PI and the blurbs sounded really interesting to me.  The whole books for free thing was rather new to me at the time too, so I jumped.  What I really liked about this author was he stayed in touch.  I had surgery, he wished me well, I got better, he politely inquired when I could read and review his book, and I do mean politely.  I liked that he followed up in a very professional way and it made me move the book to the top of my TBR pile.  And I was very glad I did.  I read Fatal Gamble and fell in love with the main character, Gallagher.  He's not perfect, but he tries to do his best, he has a good head on his shoulders and a definite sense of right and wrong.  The story provided suspense, a romance between Gallagher and a special lady and a satisfying conclusion.  I was hooked.

Fatal Gamble: A Novel  Deadly Codes

After posting the review, JP stayed in touch, he sent a get well gift when I went through my second surgery in a 6-month period.  Then a little while after I got better politely inquired about me reading Deadly Codes.  No convincing needed now, I read it, loved it and started begging him for more books in the Gallagher series.  The second review was done in 2010, and I think we email about once or twice every few months, just a check-in, a sharing of news (he's going to be a grandfather) and friendly talk.  He probably knows more about my boys than he wants to because I tend to gush (or complain, depending on the day) when I email.

So I said all of this to say - bloggers and authors can become friends.  JP lives in Massachusetts with his wife, I live in NC with husband and kids but we still find time to catch up and see what each is doing.  I treasure this friendship and it makes me more open to friendships with others I meet through my blog.  

Thank you JP for your books, your kindness and  your friendship!

Giveaway Day #4
This is for two more books from my giveaway page that I plan to add more books to by weekend.  When all is said and done I should have 40+ books on this page.  To enter today, tell me if you have ever met an author in person or gotten to know one on the internet.  Open to US/Canada only due to shipping costs (I do have two international giveaways going this week so check out the sidebar).  Ends 6/1/2011.