Bob Cannon
October 05, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Airmen and the Headhunters

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Judith M. Heimann
publisher
Harcourt
genre
Nonfiction, History

We gave it a B+

In November 1944, a U.S. B-24 on a routine bombing run off the Borneo coast was shot down in a jungle region populated by the head-hunting Dayak tribe and patrolled by the Japanese. Fearing capture or decapitation, the crash survivors began a seven-month adventure befriending a savvy Dutch administrator, learning native customs, and demonstrating that white men could be more useful as allies than as decorations. Judith M. Heimann brings a visceral urgency to one of WWII’s most unlikely tales in The Airmen and the Headhunters. Along the way, she makes us — like the airmen — rethink our definitions of civilized and savage.

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