"Frozen in time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II"
By Mitchell Zuckoff
World War II remains the mother lode of war adventure stories. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan have come and (mostly) gone, but it's World War II that keeps delivering our Saturday serial heroics. Why? A combination, perhaps, of black-and-white moral clarity (we were right, the Nazis were wrong), the high stakes, the sheer scale of the war, touching everybody. Or perhaps it simply went on long enough, in enough places, to produce a varied stream of great stories. Mitchell Zuckoff has found another one, and what a story it is.
Zuckoff, author of the best-selling "Lost in Shangri-La," about a downed plane in New Guinea, now takes us to an even more inhospitable environment: the Greenland winter ice cap of subzero temperatures, blinding snow and 150-mph winds.
On Nov. 5, 1942, a C-53 Skytrooper cargo plane with a crew of five crashed on the ice cap, inland from Koge Bay. What were thought to be signal flares were seen. Rescue flights went out immediately, with no success. Four days later, a B-17 bomber en route to Britain that had joined the search parties encountered a blizzard so intense that the horizon became invisible. It flew into the glacier with nine men on board, all of whom miraculously survived the crash, huddled in the broken-off tail section of the plane, teetering toward a gaping crevasse (later they carved out caves in the ice).
"Frozen in Time" is the story of how they managed to stay alive (or not) for an astonishing 148 days. Eventually spotted and supplied by air drop, they could not be reached by dog sled or plane - a Coast Guard rescue attempt in a Grumman Duck ended on Nov. 29, 1942, when it, too, crashed on the ice cap.
Everything that could happen, did happen: Blizzards raged for days on end, eyelids froze together in the cold, fingernails fell off, frostbite turned to gangrene, snow bridges collapsed into unseen crevasses, rescue sled dogs ran off, hypothermia caused delusions.
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.
What gives the book its weight is Zuckoff's genuine interest in, and respect for, the men themselves. We learn how they got through the days, what they talked about, what they did for one another. These are selfless and modest heroes, their simple faith in God and country perhaps in the end their secret strength.
In an often moving coda, we learn what the survivors did after their adventure on the ice: They become ordinary Americans. It's a chapter of small businesses, Rotarian awards, city council meetings, the Boy Scouts. Zuckoff makes us feel lucky to have had such men. They are lucky to have him to tell their remarkable story.
Joseph Kanon, for The Washington Post
"Work With Me: The 8 Blind Spots Between Men and Women in Business"
By Barbara Annis and John Gray
Unless you live and work at a monastery, chances are you work with both men and women. According to Barbara Annis and John Gray, however, we're kind of bumbling when it comes to sharing office space with the opposite sex.
In "Work With Me," the authors explore eight "blind spots" they say create tension between men and women in the workplace. Among them: women's tendency to ask more questions, men's belief they have to walk on eggshells with women, women's feeling they are being excluded and men's belief that women are too emotional. The authors say their objective is to expose and eliminate those blind spots and encourage a more "gender intelligent" workforce.
Annis and Gray have some impressive gender intelligence cred themselves. He's the author of 17 books, including one you've probably heard of: "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus." She runs a company that does workshops and consulting on gender differences in the workplace, including work for Fortune 500 companies.
The authors' credentials create some high expectations, and they only heighten those themselves, promising that the book contains (for the first time!) survey results of over 100,000 quantitative and qualitative statements from men and women. You might fairly assume that by the book's end you will be equipped with a set of special gender intelligence goggles that allow you to splendidly navigate working with co-workers of any gender.
Unfortunately, the book suffers from its own blind spots. The authors suggest they're writing for all offices but instead seem to be writing mostly for employees of massive corporations and offices where women are the minority and not the bosses. The book also is repetitive, and then there are passages called "the science side" that attempt to explain the biological reasons behind differences between the sexes. Frankly, these were boring.
Sure, I took away some useful insights. Still, by the time I got to the end of the book, I felt swindled. I'd been promised those gender intelligence goggles. Instead, all I got was a cheap pair of sunglasses offering a slightly colored view of the world but certainly no special powers.
Jessica Gresko, The Associated Press
"The King's Deception"
By Steve Berry
Cotton Malone returns in a thriller that combines history and gunfire in "The King's Deception."
Malone arrives in England with his 15-year-old son, Gary, and a teenager named Ian. The CIA has a personal interest in Ian, and they ask Malone to escort him back to England from the United States. When they arrive, they find guns pointed in their faces, and the chase begins.
Ian has a thumb drive with materials involving a top-secret operation involving history that the British government doesn't want revealed. A terrorist is about to be released from prison for humanitarian reasons, and the CIA plans to use blackmail by revealing this secret if the British government doesn't intervene.
Betrayals abound, and it's never clear what's really going on or the true motives behind the players manipulating Malone at every turn.
Jeff Ayers, The Associated Press