Cover image for Lost in Tibet : the untold story of five American airmen, a doomed plane, and the will to survive
Lost in Tibet : the untold story of five American airmen, a doomed plane, and the will to survive
Starks, Richard.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Guilford, Conn. : Lyon's Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
x, 210 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Maps on end pages.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D811.5 .S7194 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Set against the majestic yet unforgiving Himalayan landscape of World War II Tibet-an unknown and tightly sealed land deeply suspicious of foreigners--LOST IN TIBET recounts the taut adventure of five American airmen facing the greatest challenge of their young lives. Hundreds of miles off course and running low on fuel, the airmen bail out of their foundering plane over what they thought was India. Instead, they parachute into the high Himalayan ridges of a Tibet riven with political intrigue and pressed tightly between Westerners involved in a war they didn't understand and Chinese who threatened their very existence. Surviving the parachute drop from the plane was only the airmen's first challenge, and perhaps their easiest. Impeccably researched and well paced, LOST IN TIBET tells the previously untold story of the group's struggle to escape back to the relative safety of their base in India.

Author Notes

Richard Starks is an award-winning journalist, former editor and publisher, and author of four other books
Miriam Murcutt is a former magazine writer and editor, and publishing industry marketing executive

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

To support China's efforts against the Japanese in World War II, American forces flew supplies from India to China over the Himalayas. Flying the hump was extremely dangerous, but such missions were considered vital to the Allies' efforts. In December 1943, a plane with five American airmen was blown off course and ran out of fuel over Tibet. All successfully bailed out and were reunited on the ground, but because of Tibet's extreme isolation, their return was not certain. Injuries and language difficulties were compounded by the vast cultural differences. The airmen were eventually transported to Lhasa, where the British consul provided support. Political turmoil and impending bad weather forced the men to travel out of Tibet by mule over treacherous terrain. This is a fine story of courage and diplomacy that presents invaluable information on a little-known theater of WWII and insight into the Tibet-China political situation. --Danise Hoover Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In 1943, five American airmen were returning in a C-87 cargo plane over the ?Hump,? a treacherous supply route across the Himalayas that pilots flew round the clock to equip Chinese allies against the Japanese during WWII. Despite reports of fair weather, a ferocious storm blew the plane hundreds of miles off course, forcing the crew to parachute into the remote mountains of Tibet just before the plane ran out of fuel and crashed. The men were first held as prisoner-guests in the forbidden city of Lhasa; later, their trek back to India was hampered not only by the impenetrable terrain and mysterious culture they encountered, but by a larger international intrigue over Tibet?s independence. The battle over dominance of the region between Britain and China, then, turns a story of military courage and grit into one of political intrigue. As Britain and China clashed, Tibet found itself controlled by a child leader (the Dalai Lama, the country?s spiritual and political leader, was only eight years old) and in an increasingly vulnerable situation during the war. Determined to remain autonomous despite the mounting political maelstrom, the Tibetans saw the airmen?s unexpected fall from the sky as an opportunity to win the American government to the cause of their independence, while the British originally looked at them as spies. Authors Starks and Murcutt absorbingly recount the political conquest of Tibet through the story of these five young men?s unwitting embroilment in an international incident and their extraordinary journey home. B&w photo insert not seen by PW. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Review

In December 1943, five U.S. airmen returned from a routine supply mission over the Hump, the dangerous aerial supply route from India to China that stretched over the Himalayas. Caught in a violent storm, they bailed out as their plane ran out of fuel. To their surprise, they found themselves in a medieval civilization, far from the war but not beyond the reach of wartime politics. Taken to Lhasa, they were soon the focus of Sino-British-Tibetan politics; Tibet may have been isolated, but it was already the target of Chinese expansionist ambitions. To escape these tensions and return to their base in India, the men set out to cross the mountains dangerously late in the season and barely made it into India, a mildly interesting survival story somewhat complicated by geopolitics. The authors' sketchy treatment of the trek and what is apparently a minor incident in a great political drama make this a low-priority purchase for libraries that do not a have a particular interest in the subject. Primarily for aviation or Tibet collections. Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, KS (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The storm when it hit was wholly unexpected. From Kumming, Crozier had turned the plane onto a course of tw-eight-zero--almost due west--and for nearly an hour had flown through clear, open skies with the earth unrolling smoothly beneath him. For any pilot flying the Hump, this was as good: no real weight in the hold, good visibility in all directions, the serrated peaks of the Santsung Range still a long way ahead. Even so, Crozier couldn't relax. The tension of flying lay deep within him. It was always there, in the tautness across his shoulders and his neck. On the flight deck aound him there was little in the way of conversation, just a few jokey remarks tossed back and forth over the intercom. Most crews liked to keep it that way. Light and impersonal. They didn't want to invest time and emotion in men they might not see again, men who might soon be dead. Excerpted from Lost in Tibet: The Untold Story of Five American Airmen, a Doomed Plane, and the Will to Survive by Miriam Murcutt, Richard Starks All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
1. The Forgotten Theaterp. 1
2. Hitting the Silkp. 15
3. India or China?p. 29
4. No Shangri-lap. 39
5. The Last Blank on the Mapp. 47
6. A Wholly Erroneous Conclusionp. 57
7. Political Quagmirep. 67
8. Gokar-la!p. 77
9. "This Desolate Lhasa"p. 87
10. A Chinese Welcomep. 97
11. Gin and Lime?p. 107
12. Double Billp. 117
13. R.S.V.P.p. 129
14. The Last Wordp. 137
15. Christmas Evep. 147
16. Dead Men Walkingp. 159
Afterwordp. 171
Notesp. 181
Bibliographyp. 207