Author was not good as the audiobook narrator.
This is a true story - a good story. I liked the substance of it. But I’m not sure I liked the things the author chose to put in the story. It was more like journalism than a story. I’ve read other authors who take facts and make them into an engaging story. This one needed some changes if that’s the goal. But I was very engaged during the last 2/3.
1. The author did too much background detail on various characters who were not the main characters. It was kind of boring in the beginning. It was hard to keep track of the many characters. Some of the back stories were about people who died in the plane crash. That was a nice thing to do, but it didn’t help the story. He did a back story about women who died at other times and places during World War II - that did not interest me. However I did enjoy his story about the history of gliders starting with Hitler’s use. Although it was a tangent from the main story.
2. I wish the author talked more about the natives and their beliefs and habits. One thing that continues to trouble me: at various times during a female’s life the men chop off her fingers. By the time they are old, some of them have only thumbs left. And they wanted to chop off Margaret’s fingers. She was one of the plane survivors. She got away before they could. Apparently this was a way to appease the gods. The men fought other men with spears. If you don’t have fingers you can’t hold a spear. Was this a way to keep women from having power over men? Another horrible custom of men subjugating women.
3. There are pictures in the paperback book. The author should have made a PDF of those pictures to go with the audiobook.
4. The author should not narrate his own book. He is not a professional narrator. He read it like he was reading an encyclopedia - at times like he wanted to get done with it. At times his voice had a whining quality.
Narrative mode: 3rd person.
A very enjoyable story. The author/narrator gets both sides of the story, from the Americans and the natives, which makes it all the more interesting. Neither side really understood the other, but the misunderstandings fell neatly into place to prevent what could have been an awful end for the survivors.
This true tale of survival and rescue has everything to make it fascinating. A plane in WW2 crashed in Dutch New Guinea, and three injured American survivors had to survive among an uncivilized tribe from a Stone Age-like world . I was intrigued from the start. The problem was that this is a book that must be about 250 pages, but the story could have been well told in a third of that length. The background information on all the characters was interesting, but sometimes overwhelmed the narrative of the survival and rescue. The reader was good but not great. Still, the tale was memorable, and I am glad that I listened to it.
As you read this you will just keep saying I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of this before. Warring cannibal tribes in a hidden valley, tragic airplane crash with surviving barefoot bombshell and two men, one gravely injured. Can’t land a plane, can't get there with helicopters, constant threat of Japanese, what do you do? Put together a MacGyver inspired rescue plan involving an industrial rubber band and a glider. OMG, are you kidding me? This story was awesome!
I should say this is a very real story, with real people and real tragedy. I don't mean to make light of those aspects but it is really hard not do gravitate to the fantastical nature of the headlines this had to have generated in its day.
An engaging story that proves the old saw "truth is stranger than fiction". A definite must listen for anyone with even a shred of interest in history. Has a Indiana Jones feel to it.
Listen to this on a trip from Las Cruces to Dallas and back for Christmas. I picked this book because my in-laws were with us and I wanted something we would all be interested in and a book we could finish on the trip (without having to listen non-stop).
This turned out to be a great choice. Everyone enjoyed the narration by the author. My father-in-law who listens to a LOT of audio books said he thought this was one of the best narrations he's heard. The pacing of the story is great. Zuckoff provides enough background information on the characters to understand both how they got to New Guinea and what their motivations are. The presentation is dramatic without sliding into melodrama. There is a bit of foreshadowing, but just enough keep the story going without getting annoying.
This is a little known piece of history and a remarkable story of survival. However, I agree with reviewer Larson that it is not well-presented, continually going off on a tangent, telling us the life history of every minor player. It is one thing for a journalist to do detailed research; it is quite another to decide what to include in a book. There is really only enough material here for a good short story or novella. I must say that, given that these soldiers crashed while taking joy rides to a primitive, unexplored area, it seems that the Army had nearly unlimited resources to pour into the rescue of these 3 people. The 3 survivors are certainly heros; their commanding officers should have been disciplined. The book doesn't compare to the quality of similar tales of courage under extreme duress, such as Unbroken. So far as the narration goes, unlike many authors, Zuckoff does a good job.
As a big history person I was interested in this story, and it was good but it just turned into a chore for me to listen to. I just wasn't as exited about it as I finished. Make sure its something you'll want to listen to.
I put off listening to this book due to a couple reviews that gave mediocre ratings. What a mistake! Lost in Shangri-La is a wonderfully researched and beautifully written about one of the more interesting "silent missions" at the end of the Second World War. Zuckoff makes an engaging narrator to his novel, neither becoming monotone or annoying during the read. With a true newspaperman's approach to the endeavor, Zuckoff delves into the history and development of his characters aboard the ill-fated C-47, the Gremlin Special, their hardships and a survival story worthy of a movie. The meeting of cultures of the natives of a remote Dutch New Guinea valley and the 20th Century warriors who stumble into their midst is just a flat out four-star recipe for an interesting tale. Enjoyable especially to anyone with an interest of the Second World War in the Pacific, this is a fine use of a credit.
Me, myself, and I.
The thing that fascinates me most about history is that it contains so much....history. There are nooks and crannies in the world that contain the most fascinating stories, and I have to imagine that most of the best ones will go undiscovered for eternity. In their place, we still have a treasure trove of the most harrowing, enlightening, exciting, and sad stories that we could ever dream up. World War 2 seems to be a breeding ground for these stories, and Lost in Shangri-La reveals another tiny corner of these nooks and crannies.
Mitchell Zuckoff writes a good story about an interesting event. The survival, heroism, and bravery on display here are unquestionable. That a rescue mission was carried out in this extremely remote and dangerous place is a testament to the honor of our soldiers in WW2. Unfortunately, I couldn't shake the feeling that this really was a story about some people on a joy ride who made a mistake. Because of that mistake, many people died, and many others were put into harms way. It is a story worth telling not because of the bravery of those who avoided death in the initial crash, but rather because of those who cleaned up the mess afterwards.
And I know that sounds awfully harsh. Mitchell Zuckoff does a great job of extracting every detail out of the event and relaying those details to us in a fine manner. I have no particular quibbles with the way that this was done, other than those mentioned earlier. I think his narration is fine, and the story he tells feels complete -- it feels like we understand the backstory well, the events that occurred, and how it impacted both the valley, its native inhabitants, and those that got out alive. In the end, though, I can't shake this feeling that it isn't quite enough to convince me that I should evangelize this story and book to others.
Instead, I'll say that it is better than average, probably almost very good, but nothing more than that.