Monthly Archives: February 2015

Review: Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II

Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II, by Mitchell Zuckhoff, is a suspense-filled, compelling book.

Take a remote place, one of the most remote on earth, Greenland, and if that isn’t remote or frigid enough, add a plane crash into the mix. From that one plane crash a rescue mission is begun. It is a mission that will incur the harshest of temperatures, and the extremest of courage and will power to survive, not only as a crash victim, but also as members of rescue parties.

A C-53 Skytrooper Cargo plane was lost over Greenland, during World War II. The United States(U.S.) and England were allies, and the U.S. used their cargo planes to carry equipment, military supplies, food, personnel etc., to England. The deployments were fairly frequent, and the touch and go situations the aircraft were exposed to were under the extremest of conditions. A B-17 bomber was sent to rescue the crew, but it disappeared. Shortly afterwards, the U.S. Coast Guard was returning with crew, and it also disappeared.

The book takes place in two different time periods, beginning in 1942, and also currently, and the two time frames are woven together, alternately. The current time period involves a man named Lou Sapienza whose decades-long determination led him to be able to finally have a funded expedition to try to locate the third plane. He was certain he knew exactly where to locate it. Along, on the expedition was the author of this book, Mitchell Zuckhoff. He, himself, helped finance the mission with money from the advance of this book, and with a credit card with a healthy credit line.

Situations involving rescue attempts, men trying to survive the brutal conditions of nature in an environment not conducive to survival, never mind plane crash survival, consume the pages, through Zuckhoff’s brilliant writing. From mental deterioration, frostbite, moments of starvation, to crew members and rescuers trying to hike over the unsteady tundra, filled with iced crevices and deep crevasses that swallow human beings, the book is a page-turner. Zuckhoff leaves no stone unturned in writing with clarity, cognizance, facts, and minute details. He is brilliant with vivid word-imagery.

Unbeknownst to me, Greenland was a site of meteorological interest not only to the U.S. and England, but also to Germany. Weather patterns often formed the basis for wartime planning. The U.S. Coast Guard, although not actively involved in the front lines of war, was a strong force in the efforts to carry cargo to U.S. allies, and to communicate vital statistics and information. They were also integral in the rescue effort of downed aircraft.

I learned so much regarding the events mentioned in the book, but also regarding the efforts that the Coast Guard put forth. From continual dropping off of food to the survivors, and dropping medicine, blankets, parkas, other clothes, radios, cooking utensils, etc., their efforts to try to keep the survivors at the most level of comfort possible under the circumstances they were in, was remarkable. It was also courageous, due to the harshest of weather, including blizzards with high winds, and extreme temperatures, yet the crew persevered.

What were the hardships faced? What were the odds of survival in a land that offered no comfort relating to life and living conditions? Did anyone make it out alive? Read Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II, by Mitchell Zuckhoff. It will leave you not only speechless, but leave you pondering the story long after you have read the last page.

My review might sound bland, but I want you to read the outcome for yourself. I put no “spoilers” in this post.

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Filed under Book Diva's Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

Review: Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, by Erik Larson, is an extremely compelling and fascinating read. It almost reads like a spy story.

From the beginning until the last page, I was glued to the story line, reading and rereading some of the vivid content, and grasping what Erik Larson had to say on the sinking. He infuses facts and data within the pages, making this reader wonder if all that has been told about the sinking is true. His attention to minute detail is flawless.

The Lusitania sailed from New York, with Liverpool, England, being the destination. Germany, changed all of that, during the time of war. Rules were broken. The captain of the ship, William Thomas Turner, who initially was determined, sure, and arrogant in his conclusions and decisions, soon found out how rules change, regardless of former ideals.

If you are an Erik Larson fan, which I am, you will definitely like this book, and devour the pages with as much speed as possible, without overlooking any minute detail he has to offer. His imagery is extremely illuminating, and his words speak acutely of events leading up to the final outcome.

I don’t want to speculate or give away details, but suggest this book to everyone. It is written masterfully, with brilliance and cognizance. Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, by Erik Larson made this reader ponder many questions, and I am sure it will be the same for you.

Thank you to Random House, and to LibraryThing Early Reviewers for the Advanced Copy.

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Review: The Ruins of Lace

In the book, The Ruins of Lace, by Iris Anthony, there was a new concept to me in the fact that I did not realize that lace had been a prohibited item in France, prohibited by the king in the 17th Century.

That was the only point of interest I found in the novel, aside from lace-making.  I did enjoy reading about how lace was made, and the intricacies of it. The fine details the author illuminated regarding creating lace were well-written, and were depicted with excellent word-imagery, albeit repetitious.

The rest of the story was more of a novel regarding varied individuals and their inadequacies, failings, life situations, forced labor, etc., within the harsh environment of the 17th Century.  Yes, there was some historical information, but not enough for me to consider it a worthy historical read.  I read a lot of repetition, regarding the lace, and I understand that it was a detailed creation, but concerning the chapters in which the creation was depicted, it was routine, the same rote over and over.

The varied characters portrayed, did not seem to have much substance, and that was a negative for me.  I like to get into a book, like the characters to have some sense of substance and depth.  Their seven viewpoints did not really create emotion in me, or create sympathy for their circumstance, even as individuals.

Iris Anthony did succeed in her word-paintings, with some lovely prose.  Overall, I was disappointed, and felt the story line was quite thin. My opinions might differ from yours, though.

I read this for the second time, for a book club.

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