Frozen in Time is a gripping true story of survival, bravery, and honor in the vast Arctic wilderness during World War II, from the author of New York Times bestseller Lost in Shangri-La.
On November 5, 1942, a US cargo plane slammed into the Greenland Ice Cap. Four days later, the B-17 assigned to the search-and-rescue mission became lost in a blinding storm and also crashed. Miraculously, all nine men on board survived, and the US military launched a daring rescue operation. But after picking up one man, the Grumman Duck amphibious plane flew into a severe storm and vanished.
Frozen in Time tells the story of these crashes and the fate of the survivors, bringing vividly to life their battle to endure 148 days of the brutal Arctic winter, until an expedition headed by famed Arctic explorer Bernt Balchen brought them to safety. Mitchell Zuckoff takes the reader deep into the most hostile environment on earth, through hurricane-force winds, vicious blizzards, and subzero temperatures.
Moving forward to today, he recounts the efforts of the Coast Guard and North South Polar Inc. – led by indefatigable dreamer Lou Sapienza – who worked for years to solve the mystery of the Duck’s last flight and recover the remains of its crew.
A breathtaking blend of mystery and adventure Mitchell Zuckoff's Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II is also a poignant reminder of the sacrifices of our military personnel and a tribute to the everyday heroism of the US Coast Guard.
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, April 2013: Talk about bad luck: In 1942, a United States cargo plane crash-landed while flying over Greenland, stranding the crew on sea of ice. A rescue flight was quickly dispatched--it crashed in a November storm, stranding its own nine crewmembers. The third time was not the charm: a second rescue mission disappeared in another blizzard, leaving neither clues nor apparent survivors. Subsequent attempts--some with fatal results--failed under the harsh conditions, forcing the men to weather the Arctic winter in makeshift shelters, including the tail section of a broken bomber. This tale of survival in the deadliest conditions would be enthralling on its own (and it is), but Zuckoff's meticulous research led him to a modern-day group dedicated to solving the mystery of the third flight. As a chronicler of their mission, Zuckoff is swept into their adventure, and his project becomes much more than an interesting World War II subplot. Part Alive, part Shackleton, Frozen in Time is a thrilling story of courage, perseverance, and loyalty that spans decades. --Jon ForoFrom the Author:
This book tells two true stories, one from the past and one from the present.
The historic story revolves around three American military planes that crashed in Greenland during World War II. First, a C-53 cargo plane slammed into the island's vast ice cap. All five men aboard survived the crash, and their distress calls triggered an urgent search. Next to go down was one of the search planes, a B-17 bomber, stranding nine more men on the ice. Finally, a Coast Guard rescue plane called a Grumman Duck vanished in a storm with three men aboard while trying to save the B-17 crew.
For nearly five months, through the Arctic winter of 1942-43, survivors and their would-be saviors fought to stay alive and sane in the most hostile environment on earth, clinging to life in snow caves and the tail section of the B-17. As the war raged on, America's military tried to rescue the icebound men by land, sea, and air, sometimes with fatal results. When hope seemed lost, a legendary aviator from the early days of flight devised a half-mad plan to land a seaplane on a glacier.
I learned about these events while hunting through newspaper archives for hidden treasures: stories that once captivated the world, only to fall through the cracks of history. After too many brassiere ads to count, I came across a 1943 series of newspaper articles titled "The Long Wait," about the crew of the wrecked B-17. Intrigued, I dug deeper, collecting declassified documents, maps, photographs, interviews, and previously unknown journals, seeking critical mass for a book.
Along the way, I stumbled upon a loose-knit society of men and women determined to locate the Grumman Duck's resting place and to bring home the remains of the three heroes it carried. Driving that effort was a tireless dreamer named Lou Sapienza, a photographer-turned-explorer who dedicated himself physically, financially, and emotionally to finding the frozen tomb of three men he knew only from faded photographs. Through Lou and his cohorts I met families who'd been waiting nearly seven decades for the return of their lost loved ones.
I also connected with Duck-devoted Coast Guardsmen who believed that all hands should be present and accounted for, one way or another. One in particular, Commander Jim Blow, committed himself with the same fervor he once gave to his work as a search-and-rescue pilot. Soon I realized that I couldn't tell the full story of the three crashes without also writing about the modern mission of the Duck Hunt.
In the summer of 2012 I joined Lou, Jim, and their combined civilian and military teams on a remote glacier in Greenland, where we experienced the world's unfinished attic firsthand. Together we used cutting-edge technology, an overlooked military crash report, and a yellowed treasure map complete with an X to solve one of the last mysteries from World War II.
Although written as a narrative, this is a work of nonfiction. As explained in my notes on sources, I took no liberties with facts, dialogue, characters, details, or chronology. Because the story moves between past and present, date markers such as "November 1942" and "October 2011" signal which tale is being told. Also, the historical story is written in past tense, while the modern story is in present tense.
I played a role in the Duck Hunt, and I appear in the book, but it isn't about me. It's about ordinary people thrust by fate or duty into extraordinary circumstances, one group in 1942 and another group seventy years later. Separated by time but connected by character, their bravery, endurance, and sacrifices reveal the power of humanity in inhumane conditions. I hope I've done them justice.
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