Monday, April 29, 2013

Frozen in Time By Mitchell Zuckoff

An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest
for Lost Heroes of World War II
The New York Times bestselling author of Lost in Shangri-La

*Best Book of the Month for April 2013 – Amazon*
*Best Book of the Month for April 2013 – Barnes and Noble*
*Indie Next Pick for April 2013 – Independent Booksellers Association*

“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.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“An . . . exciting account involving characters of enormous courage and stamina.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“In a time when far too many television ‘reality’ shows reflect nothing back at us but narcissism and the celebration of me, me, and more me, it is refreshing indeed to read this masterfully told tale of great personal sacrifice in the service of others; FROZEN IN TIME is rigorously researched, beautifully told, and absolutely compelling from start to finish, a true adventure story that takes us deeply into the heart of what it means to serve a cause higher than oneself.
Mitch Zuckoff has done it again!”
— Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog

“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.”
— David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z

“Mitchell Zuckoff has done it again—he’s found another amazing World War II story that everyone else somehow missed. Much like his acclaimed Lost in Shangri-La, this is a story about brave aviators fighting for their lives in a back-theater of the war. Only this time Zuckoff isn’t just chronicling the adventure—he’s part of it. 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.”
— Hampton Sides, author of Ghost Soldiers and Hellhound on His Trail

“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.”
— Adam Hochschild, author of To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918

FROZEN IN TIME, by acclaimed author Mitchell Zuckoff, is an exceptional book. Just as he did in the bestselling Lost in Shangri-La, Zuckoff has uncovered a forgotten story from World War II, this time bringing readers to Greenland’s Ice Cap, the scene of three military plane crashes and a harrowing mission to rescue the survivors--some of whom spent 148 days of an unforgiving Arctic winter living in the tail section of their broken plane. Zuckoff is a maestro, simultaneously telling the story of these men, as close to boyhood as to manhood, as well as the story of those who, seventy years later, dedicated themselves to retrieving the heroes left behind.

On November 5, 1942, a U.S. cargo plane on a routine flight 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 the B-17 survived. With the weather worsening, the U.S. military launched a daring rescue mission, sending a Grumman Duck amphibious plane to find the men. After picking up one member of the B-17 crew, the Duck flew into a severe storm, and the plane and the three men aboard vanished.

Full of evocative detail, FROZEN IN TIME brings this extraordinary ordeal vividly into focus, taking readers to the most inhumane place on earth, where temperatures routinely reach 40 degrees below zero and where the wind is so devastating that glacial dust can scratch glass and blind unprotected eyes. For nearly five months, the surviving men from the B-17 crash struggled to stay alive and sane while they waited for rescue. They blew on each other's faces when their eyelids froze together, rubbed each other's limbs to keep blood flowing, and shared their last crumbs of rations to keep from starving. One young navigator’s feet literally froze inside his boots and another lost all of his fingernails to frostbite making it painful to touch anything. They used large cans of dog food –meant for the sled dogs that never came to save them –as pillows, and passed endless hours playing word games and naming all the capitals, islands and every other geographical feature they could think of. All the while, search and supply pilots flew countless flights through storms and lost horizons to drop food and supplies while the stranded waited and waited for a half-mad rescue effort that rewrote the annals of Arctic flight.

But that is only part of the story that unfolds in FROZEN IN TIME. While recounting the historical tale, Zuckoff weaves in the modern story of the U.S. Coast Guard and North South Polar Inc., led by an indefatigable dreamer named Lou Sapienza. Sapienza spent years trying to find the crash site of the Coast Guard Duck whose crew perished while attempting to rescue the downed soldiers. In August of 2012, nearly seventy years after the crash, Sapienza and a crew that included Zuckoff, travelled to Greenland and located the plane some 40 feet below the ice surface.  

Drawing on intensive research and a firsthand account of the dramatic and dangerous 2012 expedition, 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 US Coast Guard.

About Greenland in World War II

At more than sixteen hundred miles north to south and eight hundred miles across, Greenland is a strange and enormous place. Its coastline, jagged with fjords that can cut more than ninety miles inland, is longer than the circumference of the earth at the equator. Much of Greenland is covered with ice, two miles deep in places. And, with just fifty eight thousand residents, it boasts the lowest population density of any country or independent territory. To put that in perspective: if Manhattan had the same population density as Greenland its residency would be two.

Claimed by the Danish monarchy in the early 18th century, Greenland was mostly an afterthought until 1940 when Nazi Germany invaded Denmark and American leaders suddenly looked with fear at the gigantic island so close to North America. In 1941 the United States reached an agreement with Denmark’s government-in-exile to protect Greenland by building U.S. airbases and military installations on the island. Not only did this provide a buffer for the States, but it also gave us control of Greenland’s weather stations –and whoever controlled the weather stations there would know what the weather would be like in Europe the next day—critical information for the planning of air raids and other military maneuvers. 

About the 2012 Mission to Locate the Remains of the Grumman Duck

Just before Mitchell Zuckoff left for Greenland on a trip that would become a key part of his new book FROZEN IN TIME (Harper; on sale April 23), he sent the completed parts of the manuscript to his agent, Richard Abate, with instructions that if he didn't return home alive Richard should figure out a way to get the book finished and published. After spending months researching this strange and enormous place, Mitch knew the dangers--perhaps all too well: temperature so low unprotected eyes can freeze shut from blinking, wind so strong that blowing glacier dust can cut glass, and terrain laced with hidden crevasses hundreds of feet deep. Richard urged him to consider staying behind but Mitch wouldn’t hear of it.
Just as he did in the bestselling Lost in Shangri-La (2011), in FROZEN IN TIME Zuckoff has uncovered a forgotten true story from World War II, this time bringing readers to Greenland’s Ice Cap, the scene of three military plane crashes and a harrowing mission to rescue the survivors--some of whom wound up spending 148 days of an unforgiving Arctic winter living in ice caves and the tail section of their broken B-17 bomber. The last plane to disappear was a Grumman Duck amphibious Coast Guard plane that was sent out to rescue those already stranded. Flying into a blizzard, the Duck's crew was able to save two of the icebound men but on their second run they crashed and were never heard from again. When the mission to Greenland began, pilot John Pritchard Jr. and radioman Benjamin Bottoms were the only members of the Coast Guard still M.I.A. from World War II.

In 2011, while deep in the research for FROZEN IN TIME, Zuckoff heard about Lou Sapienza, CEO of North South Polar Inc., a team of explorers, scientists and field specialists who take on the most difficult recovery missions located in the most challenging environments on earth. Lou, a character in the truest sense of the word, had made it his mission to go to Greenland and recover the bodies of Pritchard and Bottoms; soon after their first meeting, Zuckoff was determined to go with him. 

In the months leading up to the August 2012 Greenland expedition, Zuckoff invested thousands of dollars from his own pocket into the project. By then, he had grown close to the relatives of Pritchard and Bottoms, and he also knew that the expedition was a key part of finishing FROZEN IN TIME. It started with a $15,000.00 loan in January, but by May that number had multiplied at a frightening rate. Determined to keep the mission from cratering, Zuckoff borrowed from his daughter’s college fund and gave Lou his credit card number.  In addition to his role as “bank,” Zuckoff also helped navigate the often fractious relations between North South Polar and the Coast Guard, whose support was essential.

Finally, on August 21, 2012, Mitch, Lou and their team left for the ice cap. After a harrowing helicopter ride to the Koge Bay glacier, the real work began.  For almost two weeks, the seventeen-member expedition team worked upwards of fifteen hours a day using state-of-the-art radar to locate the remains of the Grumman Duck, now entombed some 40 feet below the surface of the glacier. When a potential spot was located, the crew used a large and heavy machine called a Hotsy to melt holes in the ice. Then they dropped a video camera into each hole hoping to find some sign of the plane’s remnants.  Attempt after attempt returned no signs of the Grumman Duck. As time was running out and they were becoming more desperate, Mitch went onto the open glacier without safety ropes, not wanting to be slowed down. He clutched an ice ax, poised to save himself if the ice gave way.

At the very end of the trip, with a storm bearing down and an emergency evacuation under way, Mitch and just one other crew member nicknamed WeeGee remained on the glacier and continued their work. With his wife and daughters weighing heavily on his mind, it occurred to Mitch that he had joined Lou in the world of windmill-tilting dreamers who don’t know when to quit. Was this an invitation for Greenland to swallow him whole? Then, literally at the last minute, something miraculous happened.  On their final attempt, Mitch and WeeGee dropped the video camera down that very last hole, and there it was. The Duck Hunt was over.

Praise for Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff

“A truly incredible adventure.”
   —New York Times Book Review

“In his compelling new book, Lost in Shangri-La, Mitchell Zuckoff has uncovered, and vividly reconstructed, such an astonishing tale. . . . The book has an immediacy born of extensive reporting. . . . From this abundant material, Zuckoff is able to glimpse events from alternate vantage points, and skillfully builds narrative tension and deft character portraits. He has a sharp eye for the revealing detail. . . . Zuckoff has pulled off a remarkable feat — and
held the reader firmly in the grip.”
   — David Grann, Washington Post

“A riveting tale in the hands of a good storyteller. . . . The incidents and people themselves make this a riveting story, but they would not be so alive to the reader had the author not made such skillful use of sources, including, after 60-plus years, interviews with Walter and other aged participants in the adventure. Lost in Shangri-La is the most thrilling book, fiction or nonfiction, that I have read since I can’t remember when.”
   — Seattle Times

“[A] grippingly cinematic account. . . . A remarkable cast of characters. . . . A.
   — Entertainment Weekly

“This is an absorbing adventure right out of the Saturday-morning serials. . . . Lost in Shangri-La deserves a spot on the shelf of Greatest Generation nonfiction. It puts the reader smack into the jungle. ”
   — Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Zuckoff transforms impressive research into a deft narrative that brings the saga of the survivors to life. His access to journal accounts, letters, photos, military records, and interviews with the eyewitnesses allows for an almost hour-by-hour account of the crash and rescue, along with vivid portraits of his main subjects.”
   — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A lost world, man-eating tribesmen, lush and impenetrable jungles, stranded American fliers (one of them a dame with great gams, for heaven’s sake), a startling rescue mission. And then, an unread diary and a single survivor living quietly half a century later in Oregon, still remembered by the jungle-men of New Guinea. This is a true story made in heaven for a writer as talented as Mitchell Zuckoff.
Whew—what an utterly compelling and deeply satisfying read!”
   — Simon Winchester

“Mitchell Zuckoff has found one of the great untold yarns of World War II. In the bold tradition of The Lost City of Z and other well-crafted armchair adventures, Lost in Shangri-La takes us on a breathless descent through
forbidding jungles into the heart of the Stone Age.”
   — Hampton Sides, bestselling author of Ghost Soldiers

“Polished, fast-paced and immensely readable—ready for the big screen.”
   — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Mitchell Zuckoff is the author of Lost in Shangri-La, a New York Times bestseller and winner of the Winship/PEN New England Award. His previous books include Robert Altman: The Oral Biography, and Ponzi’s Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend. He has written for national and regional publications and is a former special projects reporter for the Boston Globe, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for investigative reporting. He is a professor of journalism at Boston University.

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