With the recent success and publicity of the book and movie Unbroken, I’ve started re-investigating the personal side of World War II, something that even today tends to get lost in the battles, strategies, and famous names so often associated with this war. Following this theme, I’ve had the opportunity to review and read 81 Days Below Zero. What a book and story that this is! Let me share with you a bit more detail.
About the Book
The story centers around the real-life person of Leon Crane, who was stationed in the Alaskan wilderness during World War II and assigned to a flight unit helping to test B-24 Liberators in the rapidly changing (and cold!) northern wilderness. We’re introduced to Crane, given a bit of his background and then the author, Brian Murphy, starts us into the tale about one flight test that resulted in the crash of Crane’s airplane and his subsequent survival in the wilderness for more than two months!
Contents and Chapters
Not just rehashed press releases, Murphy gives us a “you are there” perspective, with Crane’s thoughts and actions, from his early jauntiness as a young airman in a wide-ranging war, to the veteran struggling to just survive. Chapters include:
- Family life and background.
- Unit description and history.
- Great military information, particularly with regards to Russian and American co-operation in Alaska.
- Individual battles during the war.
- Transitions between present day remains recovery and information combined with historical facts and details of Crane’s walk out.
However, in the end, what kept me coming back was the daily struggles of just existing, finding food, water and the will to go on. Murphy has done a great job with the material, making this a mix between history, modern day and a personal perspective.
A quick read, but yet with more than two hundred pages, bibliography and more, you’ll find this a good introduction to a theater of war that is so often overlooked by many. You’ll also find a great adventure read that will influence how you react to the next snowstorm you see!
Thanks again for stopping by the blog and I hope that you’ve enjoyed this particular review.