Like his best-selling Lost in Shangri-La, Mitchell Zuckoff’s new book is a page-turning true story of heroism and survival on a remote front during World War II. Frozen in Time (Harper, 2013) is a contemporary story, too, with alternating chapters told in the first person, a departure for Zuckoff, a College of Communication professor of journalism. Zuckoff will read from and discuss his book at Brookline Booksmith tonight, Tuesday, April 30, at 7 p.m. In the historic story, there’s suspense, but practically no human conflict, yet there’s plenty of conflict in the contemporary story. Zuckoff’s Frozen in Time chronicles the ordeal of World War II survivors of an arctic plane crash.
I knew as I was writing it that I would have to make it clear to the reader what my role was in this and the fact that I was helping to fund the expedition. When you write about experiencing a plane crash or flying a plane, you put the reader right there in the cockpit. You engage the other senses too, describing vibrations and the noises and smells the men would have experienced. I feel as though these are men and women who take everyone’s lives in their hands with every move—you can’t take a second off. Mitchell Zuckoff will discuss and sign copies of Frozen in Time at Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St., Coolidge Corner, Brookline, at 7 tonight. He became part of the story when he joined, and partially financed, an arctic expedition last summer hoping to locate the wreckage of the downed Grumman Duck and repatriate the frozen remains of the men who didn’t make it out alive. BU Today spoke with him about where he gets the ideas for his books and the perils of being part of the story. I used to have to go over to the Boston Public Library microfilm room and bring out rolls and rolls. After Lost in Shangri-La I wondered, could I find another World War II story that would intrigue me as much as Lost in Shangri-La did?
The level of self-sacrifice of all the men in 1942 and 1943, it’s genuine, it’s documented, and it’s mind-blowing, because every one of these guys put himself at risk for the guy next to him or the guys trapped on the ice, and every time they flew they knew they were flying into horrible conditions. The closest I ever came was when I sat in the cockpit of a plane on the way in to Shangri-La. But, it’s funny, I was so focused on the work, I really didn’t have time to think, wow I am so cold and I’m hungry and I’m exhausted and my muscles ache. Hatchet is about a thirteen year old boy named Brian Robeson who is on his way to the Canadian wilderness to visit his father. Inspired by a tenacious American adventurer named Lou Sapienza, the mission was a bit of a fiasco, but the colliding egos and daunting logistics enabled the author to lace the memoir-style chapters with observant, dry humor.
When I found this, I actually hesitated at first because I didn’t want to replicate Lost in Shangri-La.


And then, flash forward 70 years and we’re out on the ice and we have a heat unit in the big tent and we have plenty of food, and we’ve got bickering and turf battles and all these things.
Beyond that, I don’t know if it colored it as much as that I was invested in it in all ways.
Even then, I wanted readers to experience her heart surgery as if they were doing it, as though the scalpel was in their hand and they were opening her chest and they were patching this hole in her heart. To balance the weight—it was a little tiny plane—the pilot said, “Well, you’re the biggest guy here other than me, so why don’t you sit in the copilot’s seat?” So I’m there and he said, “Take the stick.” And I was like, okay that’s enough. And the fact is, for a lot of these people, they’re like 22 or 24 years old and they’re operating an enormously complex piece of machinery under horrible conditions and having to make split-second decisions, because suddenly they think the horizon is over there but, oh no, the horizon just disappeared.
I did make a couple of calls from the ice to my agent, who would relay the way things were going.
All creations copyright of the creators.Minecraft is copyright Mojang AB and is not affiliated with this site. After the crash, the surviving crew members withstood the arctic cold for 148 days as they huddled in the ripped fuselage, existing on supplies dropped by air onto ice riddled with lethal crevasses.
I’m convinced that there are endless untold stories that maybe got a little bit of attention when they were happening, but if we look back at them now we realize, hey that was something really remarkable. I was just all in it and I felt like, okay this is so different for me because I’ve never done anything like this as a journalist—first of all involving myself in it. It’s such a powerful sense and if you can tap into that as a writer, if there’s a bouquet of solvents inside the cockpit of a new plane, for somebody who knows that smell, I’ve got them right there. You can say it was really cold 100 times, but now waste is building up, these guys have not showered in four months. If somebody published a diary from this five-month period, I don’t think anyone would read it.
And they’re flying in basically the equivalent of a giant cotton ball and they don’t know their height over the land, they don’t know the height of the glacier that they’re heading toward, they’ve got their life and nine other lives banking on every decision.
Subtitled An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II, the book chronicles one man’s modern obsession as well as the wartime resilience of others in a nail-biting narrative that reflects Zuckoff’s flair for unsparing historical detail. And you can do full word and text searching, so if you’re in the mood for rescue stories, you put in “rescue” and “war” and “arctic,” and you’re not going to believe the stuff that comes up. It’s a lot of rewriting, fixing and then changing your point of view, as a writer and a reader, and saying, I’m in the cockpit, I have the control wheel in my hands, what do I see? And you have to pan for a really long time to get a nugget, but if you keep it up there’s no question that there’s gold in the stream. So I will spend hours and hours and sometimes I’ll get to a point where I’m almost free-associating, where I’m reading stories and it just leads to another idea that leads to another idea. And when I realized there was a modern element to the story, I realized this has got to be the next book, because it’s different from Lost in Shangri-La.


It was so elemental for the guys in ’42—there was no room for them to be worried about egos or pride or who was in charge. But here, it finally satisfied my own rules about the first person: that leaving me out would’ve been more misleading and more detrimental to the story than putting me in.
The whole end of the book is hinging on what happens in these days, and we can’t get out of our way. And sometimes I’ll just read newspaper after newspaper for a particular time period just to immerse myself in that period. There’s a present-day element that makes it a completely different experience for me and hopefully for the reader. Sometimes the cans of food would break when they were dropped from the planes and they would rot inside the cave. Suddenly the pilot began to jerk up himself because he was excited, what turned into a massive heart attack. I think when the stakes are higher, the conflicts get lower, because you’re all fighting the same thing.
Next day.” But by having compilations of things like that and then writing in scenes and writing episodes, with high points, it keeps people coming back. Now Brian is controlling the plane all by himself, with a lot of fear that he may crash and die. He put his feet on the rudder pedals, pulled back on the wheel, and the planea€™s nose was below the horizon. Later that night he fell asleep and woke up with mosquito bites on his face, legs, and arms.
Brian saw the lake and decided to drink he was dying for thirst; he remembered the smell and cooking his mother made. Days and days after Brian finally started a fire; he used his hatchet to cut birch off the dead and over grown trees. Brian continued to drink water from the lake until he had a stomach ache from berries and the berry bush in his windbreaker.
It took away the shelter and everything he built and owned.Brian remembered in television shows he watched hea€™d seen survival kits or a first aid kit in planes. He starts out being a little chunky on his weight but after days in the woods alone his stomach sinks in.



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