On May 13, 1945, twenty-four American servicemen and women boarded a transport plane for a sightseeing trip over Shangri-La, a beautiful and mysterious valley on the island of New Guinea. What started out as a pleasure tour became an unforgettable battle for survival when the plane crashed killing all but three of those on board. Emotionally devastated, badly injured, and vulnerable to disease, parasites, and poisonous snakes in the wet jungle climate, the trio was 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 – straight into a primitive tribe of superstitious natives who had never before seen a white man or woman.
Mr. Zuckoff draws on first person interviews, declassified Army documents, personal photos and mementos, a survivor’s diary, a rescuer’s journal, and original film footage to tell the story of their incredible true-life adventure.
Mitchell Zuckoff is a professor of journalism at Boston University. His articles have appeared in the New Yorker, Fortune and other national and regional publications. He is a former special projects reporter for the Boston Globe, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for investigative reporting.