Tag Archives: greenland history

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.


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