Saturday, November 26, 2011


Before I go one line further I will let Publishers Weekly tell you about the story.
Mitchell Zuckoff skillfully narrates the story of a plane crash and rescue mission in an uncharted region of New Guinea near the end of WWII. Of the 24 American soldiers who flew from their base on a sightseeing tour to a remote valley, only three survived the disaster, including one WAC. As the three waited for help, they faced death from untreated injuries and warlike local tribesmen who had never seen white people before and believed them to be dangerous spirits. Even after a company of paratroopers arrived, the survivors still faced a dangerous escape from the valley via "glider snatch."

Jerry was sitting beside me doing crossword puzzles while I read this book, and he doesn't have to bother to read it now because it was SO good I just had to keep reading parts of it to him, interrupting his train of thought. To say this is a fascinating story is a real understatement. I could not put the book down. And women will like it as much as men will.

It is not a book of war stories, but rather the setting is in wartime (WWII, that is) and the people in this story are in the military service -- well, except for the tribesmen in "Shangri-La" who are native warriors and thought to be cannibals and head-hunters! In spite of the terrible disaster that befell these Americans, the author has the reader laughing over and over, sometimes about native customs and costumes, sometimes about miscommunications and once about requesting an air-drop of Kotex sanitary napkins for use in padding the backpack straps on the final long trek out of the jungle to freedom.

The story also leaves the reader proud of the men and women in our military service, especially the Philippino-American Paratroopers, who offered themselves up for this rescue operation.

Zuckoff has a short video of footage from the rescue itself on his website at Watch it, but don't stop there. The book is well worth your time to read.

I had it on reserve at the library for a long time, due to its popularity. But it certainly was worth the wait. It also will make a good holiday gift for any reader in your family.

No comments: