Thursday, June 10, 2010

Where Hell Freezes Over by David A. Kearns *Review*

I love stories of adventure and survival. For some reason, even though I hate cold weather I also love stories of survival in Antarctica. That's why when I heard about this book I knew I had to reserve it.

After a plane crash strands the crew of the George 1, a plane on a mission to fly over the desolate white continent and take pictures and coordinates for mapping, the five surviving crew members have to get by on what they can salvage from the wreckage until they are rescued fourteen days later.

Lieutenant Bill Kearns, co-pilot and the man at the helm when the plane crashes, is ejected out of the windshield and lands head and shoulders in a snowbank. With a dislocated shoulder and his arm broke in three places he is better off then some of the others. Two crew members are killed instantly and one moans in pain until several hours later he mercifully dies.

Making his way back to the wreckage he hears screams of pain coming from the burning fuselage. Lieutenant Ralph "Frenchy" LeBlanc, pilot, is caught within the burning wreckage. Other surviving crew members help Kearns drag him to safety. Frenchy is severely burned and the others doubt he will live.

Kearns helps Frenchy along- melting snow for him to drink, mixing milk with sugar to give him strength, and staying by him night and day. Living off rations of canned Spam, canned peaches, peanut butter, bread and pemmican, they wonder how long it will be before they have to search, hunt and fish for their next meal.

Much credit is given to Captain Henry Howard Caldwell for keeping their spirits up and their faith alive. With a cracked vertebra in his neck, a sprained ankle and a broken foot, he takes a walk to try to get to a higher level to more correctly determine their location. But with no trees or other landmarks for a point of reference, what looks to be water only a short distance away is actually 20 miles across the barren landscape.

Filled with stories of playing Salvo, an early version of Battleship, telling stupid jokes to pass the time and daily journal writing, Where Hell Freezes Over is an amazing tale of bravery and survival. 3.5 stars