Lost in Shangri-La - Michael Zuckoff
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Author:  PeterScott [ Sat May 19, 2012 5:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Lost in Shangri-La - Michael Zuckoff

I spied this in an airport bookstore and got it from the library. It's an excellent story of a plane crash in WWII in New Guinea and the rescue of the survivors, two servicemen and a WAC. (Pretty Little Girl Syndrome held sway then too: she was hot by today's standards, let alone 1945's. The press went ape, but she refused to cash in on her fame.)

The book references a documentary which can be found at, but the movie makes little sense outside the context of the book. After reading the book, the movie is far more interesting.

This is a wonderful tale of heroism and good old Yankee ingenuity, exactly the kind of event that would have swelled Heinlein's breast. It also provides a fascinating insight into the minds of the natives they discovered, because in addition to the Americans' stories of what they thought was going on in the locals' minds, the author found the surviving natives and interviewed them, and found out that the Americans were usually wrong. Sample: The rescue party parachuted in and were surrounded by tribesmen who approached and rubbed the Americans all over for an interminable time. Finding this act bordering on fetishism, the officer decided that the natives thought they were women and ordered his men to drop their pants to prove their gender. In fact, the natives were in no doubt that they were men. They just had not seen clothes before, and couldn't keep their hands off this miraculous second skin. "Come and feel this. It's not mud!" It gets better: The men of the tribe never revealed their, er, junk, in public after the age of 6 or so. The word went out as to how the visitors had embarrassed themselves in their first encounter. Priceless.

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