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

4.1 55
by Mitchell Zuckoff

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On November 5, 1942, a U.S. cargo plane slammed into the Greenland ice cap. Four days later, a B-17 on the search-and-rescue mission 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 vanished.

In this thrilling adventure, Mitchell


On November 5, 1942, a U.S. cargo plane slammed into the Greenland ice cap. Four days later, a B-17 on the search-and-rescue mission 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 vanished.

In this thrilling adventure, Mitchell Zuckoff offers a spellbinding account of these harrowing crashes 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 until an expedition attempts to bring them to safety. But that is only part of the story. In present-day Greenland, Zuckoff joins the Coast Guard and North South Polar Inc. on a dangerous expedition to recover the remains of the lost plane's crew.

Frozen in Time is a breathtaking blend of mystery, adventure, heroism, and survival. It is also a poignant reminder of the sacrifices of our military personnel and their families—and a tribute to the important, perilous, and often overlooked work of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - Audio
★ 09/01/2013
Zuckoff (journalism, Boston Univ.; Lost in Shangri-La) here writes an account of the U.S. cargo plane that crashed into the Greenland ice cap on November 5, 1942, and the subsequent attempts to rescue the survivors. Four days later, the search and rescue plane also crashed. The ensuing narrative is a fascinating reminder of the sacrifices of American military personnel and their families. Well read by the author, this is an extraordinary tale of adventure and heroism. VERDICT Highly recommended for fans of suspense, military history, and adventure. ["This tale of true heroism, human ingenuity, and sacrifice by ordinary people in the face of a bitter enemy is for anyone interested not only in World War II aviation or modern scientific techniques for locating missing aircraft but in popular histories of real adventure," read the starred review of the New York Times best-selling Harper hc, LJ 4/15/13.—Ed.]—Pam Kingsbury, Univ. of Northern Alabama, Florence
The Washington Post - Joseph Kanon
…World War II remains the mother lode of war adventure stories…Mitchell Zuckoff has found another one, and what a story it is…This is the stuff of great survivalist drama, and Zuckoff, a good storyteller, makes the most of it. He is alert to the arbitrary twists of fate that keep one man alive but not another and has a good eye for detail that suggests the daily suffering…behind the larger-than-life heroics. This is not a genre known for literary style, but Zuckoff's clear-eyed prose does just what it needs to do—keep up the suspense and make the pages turn…But what gives the book its weight is his genuine interest in, and respect for, the men themselves.
Publishers Weekly
In this harrowing true-life adventure, journalist Zuckoff (Lost in Shangri-La) follows the crew of an American B-17 bomber that crash-landed in 1942—while searching for another downed plane—on a vast glacier in the Greenland ice cap, one of the most isolated and inhospitable places on earth. With little food or cold-weather gear and an assortment of nasty injuries, the nine airmen found themselves trapped in a field of hidden, ever-shifting crevasses that threatened to swallow up their plane and made hiking even a few yards a mortal danger. Zuckoff juxtaposes their months-long battle against hurricane-blizzards, starvation, frost-bite, gangrene and madness with equally perilous rescue attempts by sled teams and military aviators flying through gales and white-outs. (His tense first-hand account of a 2012 expedition to locate the remains of one of those rescue flights buried in 30-foot-deep ice frames the story.) Zuckoff’s gripping narrative unfolds with immediacy and verve as men in fetid snow caves and sputtering aircraft pit their dogged camaraderie and desperate, white-knuckle improvisations against the fury of an Arctic winter. Photos. (May)
Adam Hochschild
“You would think that all the World War II stories have been told by now. But Mitchell Zuckoff has a remarkable knack for finding new ones, and he has done it again, with a gripping, moving tale, suspensefully told—whose final act takes place today.”
David Grann
“Once again, Mitchell Zuckoff has uncovered a thrilling historical tale and told it masterfully. Seamlessly interweaving the past and the present, Frozen in Time is one of those epic adventure stories that will hold you in its grip from beginning to end.”
Hampton Sides
“FROZEN IN TIME is a beautifully-written war yarn, but at its heart, it’s a non-fiction mystery—the tale of a group of heroes united in a desire to solve a riddle buried in the Arctic ice.”
Howard Schneider
Frozen in Time is an “excellent, affecting” book of “considerable suspense…. [Zuckoff’] is a skilled writer, reporter and researcher, but what gives his latest book its power is his poignant, persuasive depiction of men under arms.”
Entertainment Weekly
“This stunningly immersive true-life account of a U.S. military search-and-rescue operation…reads like a stellar adventure novel.”
Bob Minzesheimer
“Frozen in Time makes WWII history seem fresh…. [I]t’s non-fiction that reads like a page-turner of a mystery. It’s filled with heroism, tragedy and remarkable persistence, in the past and present.…. Zuckoff is a good writer and rigorous researcher.”
“The gripping story of a WWII-era plane crash, the survivors who braved subzero conditions, and the modern-day quest for answers.”
Matthew Price
“Mitchell Zuckoff has a nose for the classic adventure story…. As he details the bomber crew’s odyssey…weeks stretch into months, but the pages fly by as you eagerly read on. Will they ever get home safely? Zuckoff’s mastery keeps readers wondering all the way to the end.”
David Williams
“Zuckoff has produced a wonderful book that combines telling details, thoughtful background and vivid storytelling into a fascinating tale of courage, war and perseverance.”
“[A]n engaging testimony to perseverance, ingenuity and monumental self-sacrifice.… [Zuckoff is] astoundingly thorough in his research.”
Daily News
“[F]ierce…. Mitchell Zuckoff recounts a harrowing tale of survival in Greenland during World War II..”
New York Post
“[H]arrowing…. Zuckoff…[has] earned his literary reputation uncovering forgotten adventure stories.”
CNN Online
“When it comes to riveting nonfiction, author Mitchell Zuckoff has a knack for finding fascinating but forgotten stories from World War II…. This is a truly suspenseful and thrilling American story of perseverance with a worthwhile payoff in the final pages.… [A] must-read.”
Steve Weinberg
“First-rate.… His dual narrative is a welcome change of pace from so many other World War II books. It is well-researched and superbly written.”
Washington Post
“This is not a genre known for literary style, but Zuckoff’s clear-eyed prose does just what it needs to do…. He even manages to add a contemporary story…and stitch it into the historical narrative so deftly that one feeds the other.”
Austin American-Statesman
“If Lost in Shangri-La was a prize-winning page-turner, Frozen in Time is even more enthralling… a must-read.”
Library Journal
During the early part of America’s entrance into World War II, a C-53 cargo plane crashed onto the icy surface of Greenland with five on board. Four days later, a B-17 bomber with nine on board crashed while searching for the C-53. Twenty-four days after that, a U.S. Coast Guard Grumman Duck went down during the second leg of a mission to save the men of the B-17, killing the crew and a B-17 survivor they had just rescued. Zuckoff weaves these crashes into a gripping story of arctic rescue, tracing the harrowing struggle of the crash survivors to stay alive, the desperate attempts to save them, and the terrible conditions that made both nearly impossible. Blended into the historic account is a modern excavation story as Zuckoff joins an expedition to locate and recover the Duck, now buried somewhere deep under the ice of Greenland. It is an engaging and highly narrative historic adventure, whose pace builds steadily and which offers a respectful regard for the various crews—strong willed, stoic, and fiercely determined men who fall back on their faith and sense of duty to carry them through. Detailed, tension-filled, and gripping, this examination of methods of rescue and survival vividly places readers on the ice with the lost men and alongside those trying to save them.

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
An intrepid journalist joins a real-life Arctic search team seeking details about "three American military planes that crashed in Greenland during World War II." Zuckoff's (Journalism/Boston Univ.; Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II, 2011, etc.) complex narrative involves the fates of three downed missions to Greenland in late 1942, juxtaposed with the events of the modern-day search effort, led by an exploration company in August 2012 and joined by the author. As a result of the many competing strands and characters, some confusion in the details ensues--though maps and a cast of characters are included to help orient readers. The original lost cargo plane, which contained five American servicemen, was part of the wartime Operation BOLERO's so-called Snowball Route from the U.S. to Britain; on November 5, 1942, it crashed on an ice cap near the southeast coast of Greenland. Due to terrible winter storms, the plane's radio messages grew increasingly weak, making it impossible to locate the plane for the subsequent B-17 bomber that took off days later on a rescue mission. Carrying nine crew members, the B-17 hit a whiteout and crashed into a glacier. The broken-off tail section remained intact, allowing the survivors to take shelter, but one man had already fallen through an ice bridge, another grew delusional and another had his feet frozen. In order to rescue this batch, a Grumman "Duck" plane was launched, carrying pilot John Pritchard and radioman Benjamin Bottoms; despite rescuing some of the survivors, the Duck vanished in a storm, remaining unclaimed until Lou Sapienza's expedition of 2012. Much of the blow-by-blow narrative concerns the plight of the crews, as well as the elaborate outfitting for the Duck Hunt. An exhaustively layered but exciting account involving characters of enormous courage and stamina.

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Read an Excerpt

Frozen in Time

By Mitchell Zuckoff

HarperCollins Publishers

Copyright © 2013 Mitchell Zuckoff
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-06-213343-4

2 0 0 0 BC TO AD 19 42
First there's the name, which as most schoolchildren know
should be Iceland, but that was already taken. Almost nothing
green grows in Greenland, where more than eighty percent of the
land is buried under deep ice. Deep, as in, up to ten thousand
feet, or two solid miles. If all of Greenland's ice melted—a worst-
case scenario of climate change—the world's oceans would rise by
twenty feet or more.
Greenland's colorful name is blamed on a colorful Viking
called Erik the Red. Erik went to sea when he was exiled from
nearby Iceland in the year 982, after he killed two men in a
neighborhood dispute. In addition to being an explorer, a fugi-
tive killer, and a lousy neighbor, Erik was the world's first real-
estate shill. He christened his discovery Greenland in the belief
that a “good name” would encourage his countrymen to settle
there with him. The ploy worked, and the community that Erik
founded on the island's southwest coast survived for more than
four centuries.

1 0 F R O Z E N I N T I M E
Unlike the Pilgrims who came to North America, Erik and
his band found no nearby natives to trade with or learn from. So
they relied on themselves and on imports from Europe. But by
the Middle Ages, decades passed between ships. The once-robust
Vikings grew smaller and weaker. Eventually they died out alto-
gether, leaving ruins but little else. Erik the Red is perhaps better
remembered for siring Leif Eriksson, who sailed to North America
some five hundred years before Columbus. Leif called his discov-
ery Vinland, or Wineland. But Icelanders wouldn't be fooled twice
by the same family, and no lasting settlements followed.
A competing but equally odd theory says that the name Green-
land was bestowed by the native Inuit people, formerly called Es-
kimos by outsiders. Their sporadic presence on Greenland traces
back some four thousand years, starting with travelers believed
to have crossed the narrow straits from North America. The Inuit
clustered near the rocky coastline and in the words of one me-
dieval historian, Adam of Bremen, had “lived there long enough
to have acquired a greenish tinge from the seawater beside which
they dwelt.” Under this theory, anyone who looked vaguely green
must have come from Greenland.
If Greenland had to be named for a color, white seems the ob-
vious choice. But blue was viable, as well. Although white at the
surface, glacier ice on much of Greenland comes in translucent
shades of blue, ranging from faint aquamarine and turquoise just
below the surface to indigo in the depths of crevasses. The phe-
nomenon is caused by countless years of snow being compacted
into ice. Snow contains oxygen, which scatters light across the vis-
ible spectrum, making it appear white. Compacting squeezes out
the oxygen, and the compacted ice crystals that remain absorb
long light waves and reflect short waves. The shortest light waves
are violet and blue. And so, the ice at the cold heart of Greenland
is blue.

G R E E N L A N D 1 1
GREENLAND'S STRANGENESS IS compounded by its great but
politically inconsequential size; its almost complete emptiness;
and its unconscionable weather.
In a world where size generally matters, Greenland's doesn't.
The island is globally overlooked despite being enormous: more
than sixteen hundred miles from north to south, and eight hun-
dred miles at its widest point. Greenland could swallow Texas
and California and still have room for a dessert of New Mexico,
Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, and all of New England. It's three
times the size of France, and it occupies more than twice the area
of the planet's second-largest island, New Guinea.
Yet Greenland is the world's loneliest place. With fifty-eight
thousand residents, it has the lowest population density of any
country or dependent territory. Only Antarctica, with no perma-
nent residents, makes Greenland seem crowded. If Manhattan had
the same population density as Greenland, its population would
be two.
One way to picture Greenland is to look at a world map and
find the blank white spot to the northeast of North America. An-
other way is to imagine an immense bowl filled with ice. At the
outer edge of the island, jagged mountains that rise as high as
twelve thousand feet create the bowl's rim. The land between the
coastal mountains, the bowl's concave middle, is filled with ice
that built up over tens of thousands of years, as yearly snowfall
exceeded melting. The more the ice accumulated, the more the
land in the central part of the island became depressed from the
weight. Hence the ice-filled bowl that is Greenland.
A closer look reveals that the bowl's rim has cracks—spaces
between the mountains. Driven by gravity, large bodies of ice
called glaciers flow toward the sea like slow-moving rivers.
When a glacier's leading edge runs out of land, it fulfills its des-
tiny by hurling itself piece by piece into the water. The process,

1 2 F R O Z E N I N T I M E
called calving, is loud and violent and magnificent. Big pieces of
glaciers are reborn as icebergs, some big enough to sink an un-
sinkable ship. In summer 2012, a glacier in northwest Greenland
gave birth to an iceberg the size of Boston. The smallest icebergs
are known to Coast Guardsmen as “growlers” because they make
sounds like snarling animals when trapped air escapes from in-
Most photographs of Greenland's glaciers and their iceberg off-
spring fail to capture their grandeur. They look on film like frothy
meringue in a cookbook. In reality, they are unstoppable giants
that have conquered the world multiple times, and they wouldn't
hesitate to unleash a new ice age if given the chance.
Although the bowl-of-ice analogy

Excerpted from Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff. Copyright © 2013 Mitchell Zuckoff. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are saying about this

Adam Hochschild

“You would think that all the World War II stories have been told by now. But Mitchell Zuckoff has a remarkable knack for finding new ones, and he has done it again, with a gripping, moving tale, suspensefully told—whose final act takes place today.”

Meet the Author

Mitchell Zuckoff's honors include the 2000 Distinguished Writing Award from the American Society of Newspaper Editors. His book Choosing Naia: A Family's Journey was a Boston Globe bestseller and won the Christopher Award.

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Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
book-a-holicGK More than 1 year ago
It's a terrific adventure story that keeps you riveted to your seat. My only caveat with the book is that there is a modern day tale interspersed within every other chapter. This should be at the end because it's neither compelling nor that interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is written extremely well. The author held my interest throughout the entire story. Absolutely amazing true story. COULD NOT PUT THE BOOK DOWN!!!!! Highly recommend!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing story extremely well written. Read this book in three days could not put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once again heart2heart ruins the book by revealing the ENTIRE book in their review. Please learn to write a review, not a book report, dissertation or blog, a simple review. Read the others here. They are simple, concise and to the point. If you feel the need to belabor each and every sentence, take it to a blog site, but stay off here. Ppl are sick and tired of ppl like you ruining books before we have a chance to read them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing adventure story. 
rckrr More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome! I speak for my wife and father who also read this book and agree with my assessment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a terrific read! I love how the author weaves the drama of the stranded flyboys with the suspense of the modern-day efforts to find the long-lost plane "frozen in time" some seventy years ago. If you're a history fan, this book will not dissapoint!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good, HOWEVER, I recommend you 1st READ ONLY THE CHAPTERS FOR 1942/1943 SKIPPING the 2012 chapters until you FINISH ALL1942/43 and THEN READ ONLY the 2012 chapters OR IT BECOMES CONFUSING. The Editor SHOULD HAVE KEPT THE CHAPTERS BY DATE ORDER not going back and forth!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An exceptional book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good reading. Excellent research. This is my first book from the author, it will not be the last.
00707NYC More than 1 year ago
a story well told, blending historical fact with a current day expedition of discovery.
Anonymous 6 months ago
This was a fabulous book and one I couldn't put down. If you love reading about true adventure and anything about the WWII time frame, you'll enjoy this book. I will be recommending this book to my "reading friends."
Anonymous 10 months ago
Interesting and well written. ~*~LEB~*~
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book grabbed at me and I just wanted everything to turn out okay. A pray and blessing that some things had been found okay, but others not. We need to bring our MIA home, to family and friends. Each and every one of them.
SUEHAV More than 1 year ago
I learned a lot from this book and even at 68 years old and a woman, I was fascinated. I agree with another the history parts first then go back and read the recovery parts. Makes more sense that way. History buffs...please don't miss this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was my third by Mitchell Zuckoff, all three were good but I think this one may have been the best. I say that because in this book the author participated in part of the story. He was vested in the effort which gave the book a personal touch, the other books I read of his were written from an researchers perspective. I highly recommend this read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Frozen In Time .I liked the book because it had a lot of suspense. One idea is they were informed that they were told to bring a big bomb but the planes keep crashing in Greenland but couldn’t get out. Another part is they were stranded with some planes that crashed and the crew members died by no help. Another part I liked was when they were traveling they crashed and the crews had to sent out a distress call all for some help but they waited months after they got the call the B-17 got rescued by their navy and the army bases. It was really cool when they were in Greenland the B-17 plane crashed the crew had to survive on a island Cold Hell and the C-57 plane had to do the same thing but tragic happened when they all crashed one by one they all went down.It was a suspensful book by the crew was trying to survive in greenland It was also great when the crews had to go on a journey that it was amazing when they were sent to deliver a bomb but it failed to reach them these are heroes from world war two crews that went all over that never came over but some did but some did not when they were traveling the crew couldn’t go away from the mission they all had to stay on task like the B-17 pane had to do a belly flop on the ice for safety it had to do this so none of the crew died but some men were injured this was suspenseful by I didn’t know that they were going to survive the big crash on ice in greenlandwhen they could have died by it some were okay this was saftey tips like Buckling up when they put their seat belts and had to land very hard but it was a good thing to let them have a seatbelt when they had landed.This book is good for High School and middle school students to read it if you are interested in a great journey and expedition around the world with world war two heroes, a survival kit when surviving in greenland or the different types of planes. ArianCHMS14
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good read. Loved it and you should too! Do not hesitate to buy
NAV52 More than 1 year ago
This book was so captivating that I didn't want it to end. I have 2 boys, age 22 and 26. The soldiers in this story were their ages and I can not imagine either of my boys going through such a horrific experience. I highly recommend this book to those who like history, adventure, action and personal stories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can never ever say I am cold again. This and other books on people surviving artic cold are amazing. What the human body can endure! Also, the bravery, caring, and persistence of men who thought more of others than of themselves. Should be required reading in school for ethics and selflessness. This is the character of those who should be leading this country. Other two good recent reads like this are, We Die Alone and Endurance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an exceptional books which weaves stories from two time periods into a cohesive, well-wrtten and engrossing work. I liked it even better than "Return to Shangra-la."