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Review: ‘Frozen in Time’ by Mitchell Zuckoff

Review: ‘Frozen in Time’ by Mitchell Zuckoff post image

Title: Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II
Author: Mitchell Zuckoff
Genre: Nonfiction
Year: 2013
Publisher: Harper
Acquired: From the publisher for review consideration (and later a TLC Book Tour)
Rating: ★★★★½

Review: On November 5, 1942 a C-53 Skytrooper carrying five American airmen took off from Iceland to return to their home base on the western side of Greenland. Midway through the trip, the plane inexplicably crash landed on an ice cap. Although none of the passengers were killed, the men would need to be rescued. The U.S. military sent search and rescue planes out looking for the lost crew, but the plane and the men on it seemed to have disappeared.

Four days later, a B-17 bomber searching for the missing C-53 was caught in a storm. Despite the pilot’s best efforts, the B-17 hit a glacier and, again, crash landed. The nine airmen and volunteers all survived the crash, but their predicament forced another series of search and rescue missions through the dangerous Arctic landscape. When the B-17 was located, two members of the U.S. Coast Guard attempted a daring rescue mission using a Grumman Duck amphibious plane to bring the men back. But their plane disappeared in a storm and, 70 years later, remained trapped somewhere in the expanse of Greenland’s glacial tundra.

In Frozen in Time, Mitchell Zuckoff tells the story of the B-17 crash survivors and their fight to stay alive for nearly 150 days in one of the most inhospitable places on the planet. But that’s not the end of the story. Zuckoff is also part of a present-day mission to try and solve the mystery of the Duck’s last flight and, hopefully, bring back the remains of the plane and the crew.

There are a lot of good ways in which Frozen in Time is like Zuckoff’s previous book, Lost in Shangri-La, a book that I enjoyed immensely. Both are “forgotten” World War II stories about plane crashes and the daring rescue attempts that take place as a result (Zuckoff even acknowledges this at one point, referencing the Shangri-La rescue in Frozen in Time). And, like I said about Lost in Shangri-La when I first reviewed it, Frozen in Time exemplifies all of the things I love about good narrative nonfiction: it puts a new twist on a familiar story, shows meticulous research through primary and secondary sources, and pulls these pieces together with well-spun characters and a story full of the dramatic ups and downs of the best adventure fiction.

But as gripping as history stories like this one can be, it’s hard to build suspense when the outcome of the story has already been decided. By also writing about the present-day attempt to locate the Coast Guard plan and the missing crew members, Zuckoff builds in a layer of tension that elevates the book. The mission is pulled together by the skin of it’s teeth and going against enormous odds; Zuckoff does a great job writing about the project and his role as chronicler, communicator and partial financier.

Frozen in Time is just a great book, especially if you’re a reader looking for nonfiction that is entertaining and easy to read. Despite the grim topic, I couldn’t put this book down.

tlc logoOther Tour Stops:  BookNAround | Wordsmithonia (April 30) |  The Well-Read Redhead (May 1) | Literary Feline (May 2) | Doing Dewey (May 6) | Reviews from the Heart (May 7) | I Read a Book Once (May 8 ) | Man of La Book (May 8) | Between the Covers (May 9) | Library of Clean Reads (May 13) | Bibliophiliac (May 15) | Reading to Know (May 16) | 50 Books Project (May 17) |

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jennifer April 29, 2013, 11:20 am

    This is absolutely going on my wish list. Thanks for the great review, I can’t wait to read it!

  • bermudaonion(Kathy) April 29, 2013, 1:22 pm

    That’s exactly the type of nonfiction I love!

  • River City Reading April 29, 2013, 4:10 pm

    I adore narrative non-fiction, especially if it’s focused on history, so this one definitely needs to go on my list. I still haven’t read Lost in Shangri-La, either, so I might need to add that, too!

    • Kim April 30, 2013, 5:58 pm

      Lost in Shagri-La is really, really good too. I highly recommend that one as well.

  • Sheila (Book Journey) April 30, 2013, 4:37 am

    This sounds so interesting I think I would enjoy reading this.

  • Rebecca @ Love at First Book April 30, 2013, 11:21 am

    Thanks for the recommendation! This story sounds super intense!

  • Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm April 30, 2013, 4:50 pm

    Oooh, this sounds great. Have you read Troubetzkoy’s Arctic Obsession?

  • susan May 1, 2013, 8:06 pm

    Love these kind of survival tales. I’d like to read both of his books. They’ve been on my TBR for (quite) awhile!

  • Heather J @ TLC Book Tours May 3, 2013, 6:23 pm

    This is the kind of non fiction that I really love! Glad to see that you enjoyed it Kim. Thanks for being on the tour! I’m featuring your review on TLC’s Facebook page today.

  • christa @ mental foodie May 5, 2013, 12:01 am

    I have received this ARC, and can’t wait to read it once I am done with my current books! I enjoyed Shangri-La also!

  • Anna (Diary of an Eccentric) May 5, 2013, 11:08 am

    Glad to see you liked this one. Sounds like I really need to read Zuckoff’s books.

    • Kim May 5, 2013, 7:04 pm

      These are the only two I’ve read, but I’ve enjoyed the heck out of both of them. He’s good at writing adventure tales. I sort of hope his next book is another WWII rescue, but this time from the desert or something 🙂

  • Christy May 20, 2013, 7:56 pm

    I was in Barnes & Noble the other day and saw that Zuckoff had this new book out. I really enjoyed Lost in Shangri-La, and liked the idea of paralleling the historical story with a current voyage. Glad it sounds like that idea worked out.