Book Review: 81 Days Below Zero by Brian Murphy
During World War II in the winter of 1943-1944, five Army aviators left Alaska’s Ladd Field to test the Iceberg Inez, a B-24 Liberator, in sub zero temps. During the routine flight the plane spiraled out of control and crashed far off course. Leon Crane was the lone survivor. Being from Philadelphia, Crane had little wilderness experience, yet Crane managed to survive the Alaskan winter and made his way back to the safety of the world. This book details his story of survival and the story surrounding it.
Ultimately Leon Crane spend 81 days lost in the middle of the vast Alaskan wilderness struggling for his life. Crane followed the Charley River downstream in hopes it would lead to the Yukon River and a chance at survival. With more than a bit of luck on his side, Crane eventually made it out alive.
Even with limited information about this true evnt, Brian Murphy does an excellent job capturing Crane’s journey through the frozen wilderness. Due to the facts that Crane died in 2002 and did not speak much about his ordeal and that there were no other survivors, Murphy still managed to dig up interesting details that painted a picture of everything surrounding the plane crash – keeping the reader engaged and interested.
This is truly a miraculous story of survival in brutal conditions. It’s a tale that could have easily been lost in time, yet it deserved to be told. Murphy brought Crane’s war story to the mainstream. While this may not be my favorite survival story that I’ve ever read, it certainly held my attention and intrigued me – making me wonder would I have been as tough as Crane?
Buy 81 Days Below Zero and read it. You’ll enjoy this true tale.