Title: Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II
Author: Mitchell Zuckoff
Genre: Non-fiction, history
Publisher: Harper Collins
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: ARC from the publisher
First line: On Thanksgiving Day 1942, at a secret U.S. Army base on the ice-covered island of Greenland, a telegraph receiver clattered to life: “Situation grave. A very sick man. Hurry.”
Goodreads blurb: On November 5, 1942, a U.S. cargo plane on a routine flight slammed into the Greenland ice cap. Four days later, a B-17 on the search-and-rescue mission became lost in a blinding storm and also crashed. Miraculously, all nine men on the B-17 survived. The U.S. military launched a second daring rescue operation, but the Grumman Duck amphibious plane sent to find the men flew into a severe storm and vanished.
In this thrilling adventure, Mitchell Zuckoff offers a spellbinding account of these harrowing disasters and the fate of the survivors and their would-be saviors. Frozen in Time places us at the center of a group of valiant airmen fighting to stay alive through 148 days of a brutal Arctic winter by sheltering from subzero temperatures and vicious blizzards in the tail section of the broken B-17 until an expedition headed by famed Arctic explorer Bernt Balchen attempts to bring them to safety.
But that is only part of the story that unfolds in Frozen in Time. In present-day Greenland, Zuckoff joins the U.S. Coast Guard and North South Polar—a company led by the indefatigable dreamer Lou Sapienza, who worked for years to solve the mystery of the Duck’s last flight—on a dangerous expedition to recover the remains of the lost plane’s crew.
In the book world, Mitchell Zuckoff has carved out a niche for himself, a niche that involves telling the stories of amazing people thrust into truly unimaginable circumstances. Inevitably, these people show the true strength of the human spirit, and amaze the readers at the sheer magnitude of what they can endure. In this book and his previous book, Lost in Shangri-la, which I also enjoyed, the main characters are members of the Greatest Generation, the men and women who endured World War II.
Human beings are amazingly resilient. Or maybe I should say some human beings, because I can’t imagine that I could even begin to survive what the men in this story went through. As I read, I was continually astounded by how dire their circumstances were. And just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, they did.
This book is a non-stop page-turner, and that is a huge accomplishment for a work of non-fiction, at least for this reader. I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, but when I do, I want to be pulled into the story as deeply as if I was reading a novel. Zuckoff has done that with Frozen in Time. He has given his readers not one, but two, completely engrossing stories – the survival of the original men who crashed in Greenland, as well as the loss of their would-be rescuers, and the modern day story of determination to bring those who were lost back home to their families.