Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lost In Shangri-La

Truth really is stranger than fiction. The above tale is seemingly so implausible; the characters such an exercise in classic mellow drama, that it must be true. During the Second World War, the American military pilots discovered, on New Guinea, a giant valley full of pre-historic tribes in a location where the most modern maps said there were only mountains. Rumours spread and the area was dubbed Shangri-La, alluding to a fictional place first mentioned in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon. A club was created, named the Shangri-La Society, for those who where lucky enough to have flown over the valley. In 1945, a group of 24 military personnel boarded a U.S. Military plane destined for Shangri-La, only on the way into the valley, the plane crashed, killing all onboard except for three. The survivors included a lieutenant who's twin brother was killed in the crash, a sergeant who suffered a head wound bad enough that he had amnesia, and a corporal that had Hollywood leading lady looks. The military sent in a team of Filipino American paratroopers lead by an gung-ho American captain, with a rogue film maker (who was once a jewel thief) tagging along. The three had to dodge Japanese snipers on one side of the valley, and cannabalistic tribes bent on killing the survivors on the other, and with no way out of the valley. The Army decided the only way to retrieve both the survivors and their paratroopers saviours was to drop gliders into the valley, later pulling them out with everyone else on board. And if you think we've given away the best are sorely mistaken. Well worth your attention just for the sheer unbelievability, the book is also a must read as new stories regarding the Second World war don't come along as often as they used to. Available at book stores everywhere.

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