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The Airmen and the Headhunters: A True Story of Lost Soldiers, Heroic Tribesmen and the Unlikeliest Rescue of World War II MP3 CD – Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged

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Product details

  • MP3 CD
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc; Unabridged edition (12 Nov 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400155096
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400155095
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.5 x 18.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,468,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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PRAISE FOR "THE AIRMEN AND THE HEADHUNTERS" "With her title alone . . . Heimann rivets one's attention."--"The Washington Post Book World" "Heimannbrings a visceral urgency to one of WWII's most unlikely tales . . . Along the way, she makes us--like the airmen--rethink our definitions of civilized and savage."--"Entertainment Weekly" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jacques Lourens on 22 April 2011
Format: Paperback
After watching a documentary on TV, I decided to read the book on which the documentary was based. I think the author (Judith M Heimann) created a lucid, accurate account of the events and I enjoyed reading the book, from page 1.

I believe the story does not go overly in depth into too much detail, but keeps the story flowing and interesting making it an easy & ejoyable read.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys history and world war topics.
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Format: Paperback
I think this is a great book, a really unusual story and a really nice change from my usual military history tomes.
It's really interesting how the 'Dayak' behaved towards these stranded airmen, they were a lot more savvy and intelligent than you might imagine. I'd actually recommend this book to my 13 year old self. I was always reading WWII aviation history but this is a really engaging and human book that takes you away from dry facts, statistics and mission rosters into the deeply intriguing world of human behaviour in wartime.
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By Chauffeur on 11 Oct 2014
Format: Paperback
A fantastic read from start to finish.. gripping !
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By masspecguy on 21 Mar 2009
Format: Paperback
The book doesnt get to grips with any of the main characters
to the point were it becomes a documentary rather than a good read

wasted oppotunity
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 68 reviews
62 of 62 people found the following review helpful
It had to be told! 31 Oct 2007
By Cornelia Montgomery - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a truly gripping tale (Hollywood should snap it up!) and only a writer with Judith Heimann's unique mix of experience and determination could have uncovered it. The native eyewitnesses were fast disappearing when Heimann travelled (twice) to Borneo where, reviving her knowledge of Malay/Indonesian from seven years living in the area, she tracked down and interviewed in their homes more than a dozen Dayak tribespeople directly involved. She also found and interviewed five of the eleven American airmen involved (of whom only one is still alive today) and collected papers, photos and diaries from the widows of still others.

The book tells the story of American airmen whose two Liberator bomber planes -- one Army, one Navy -- were shot up in the last year of WW II over the jungles of Borneo, which was totally uncharted territory about which the airmen knew nothing except that the natives had been famous as headhunters. Although the airmen could not have expected it, the local Dayak tribespeople were willing to befriend them. The Yanks would surely have starved without the Dayaks' food and shelter, humble and unfamiliar though it was. Even so, the Yanks' survival borders on the miraculous. They suffered from numerous tropical ailments for which their "survival kit" proved woefully inadequate. Their clothes and boots rotted away and they walked barefoot many miles up and down steep, wet, leech-filled mountainsides during their seven-month stay in this strange world. Heimann fleshes out the details she recovered into a narrative with descriptive passages that let you share in the experience.

Why did the Dayaks risk the wrath of their pitiless Japanese occupiers to protect these American strangers? It seems that this was at least in part thanks to the good will earned by North American Christian missionaries who had behaved with tact and courtesy towards the Dayaks from the 1930s up till 1942 when the Japanese took them away and murdered them, their wives and their children. In addition, for those Dayaks who had not converted to the new faith or who longed for the thrill of the headhunting raids that had been central to the old faith, the opportunity to take heads again -- even though only Japanese ones -- had strong appeal.

Heimann relates her many-sided tale with great clarity, in spite of a dauntingly vast and various cast of characters that includes not only the airmen and the westernized Indonesians from other islands who were serving in Borneo as district officers and acting pastors, but also brave Dayak men and women, both Christianized and pagan (whose way of life was entirely unknown to this reader), as well as a handful of Chinese shopkeepers, daring Aussie special operations paratroops and pilots and a mad British Major!

Furthermore, for once, there are decent maps that help you follow the plot, thanks to months Heimann spent with a mapmaker entering the names and river courses of this poorly charted region,

Altogether an exciting and surprisingly upbeat story from a world few of us know anything about!
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
What a story of courage and survival 19 Nov 2007
By Armchair Interviews - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Reviewed by Jan Warren

The Airmen and the Headhunters is a true account of eleven young American crewmembers of a B-24 bomber, Lucky Strike, shot down over an unexplored mountainous region in Northern Borneo during WWII. It is also a touching story of heroism by not only the airmen, but of those who risked everything to protect and care for them during the six harrowing months before the survivor's liberation by Australian special forces.

Because of the torturous cruelty of Borneo's Japanese invaders and their determination to find and kill the airmen and any who aided them, the Lun Dayeh tribe was forced to return to the gruesome ritual of headhunting against their Japanese enemies.

As I read the airmen's vivid accounts of trudging exhausted, starving and sick through the dense Borneo jungle with their feet and legs covered in leeches and bug bites, I felt their hopelessness and pain.

The deeper I delved into the story of the unimaginable hardships of these brave men and those of Borneo's jungle inhabitants, I found myself giving thanks for even the simple comforts I usually take for granted, like clean running water and a comfortable bed.

If you are looking for a true story that will stir your emotions, then I can recommend The Airmen and the Headhunters. Heartfelt gratefulness may rise within you, as it did me in honor of all of the heroes who suffer for the cause of freedom past and present.

The author, Judith M. Heimann spent ten years compiling the detailed information before writing this book. Included are maps of the places in Borneo mentioned within the story, photos, acknowledgements, a detailed glossary and index, all of which are impressive.

I would rate this non-fiction book PG-13 not only because of the intense subject matter but for the occasional "colorful" vocabulary used by those who lived through it.

Armchair Interviews says: Yet another stirring story of WWII events and the people who survive them.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
an unusual, but not really "riveting" tale 18 Oct 2007
By W. Amend - Published on
Format: Hardcover
At 262 pages, the book is not long, but for much of the first 2/3 of it, it seems repetitive; a seemingly endless cycle of airmen being shuttled from place to place by the local inhabitants who hide them from the Japanese. Meanwhile, the airmen endure various tropical maladies and experience unusual native ceremonies and customs and come to understand that the local inhabitants are not nearly as primitive and uncultured as they originally assumed (even though they do have a distrubing habit of whacking off and saving the heads of their enemies). Near the end of the book the action picks up as locals become more agressive toward the Japanese and the time of rescue nears. In places the difficulty in reconstructing 60 year old events is apparent as some scenes lack the detail that would have made some of the action more interesting. (For example, the book states in one case that some Japanese soldiers were killed, but offers no description of the circumstances.) On the other hand, the author was able to uncover a surprising amount of detail regardng other events. I recommend that the reader keep a copy of the the island map handy and also construct a "cheat sheet" with brief descriptions of who all the main "players" in this Pacific drama are so that it is easier to track who is where and doing what to whom. There are a lot of airmen names and names of indigenous people and places that can be easy to loose track of.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
An Enthralling Gem of a Story of WWII Culture Clash in Borneo 13 Oct 2007
By Mr. Truthteller - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Author Judith Heimann provided intriguing glimpses of this unusual story in her previous work on Tom Harrisson, a Britisher living in Borneo in World War II who, despite being "The Most Offending Soul Alive", managed to organize Dayak tribesmen (an indigenous, loosely affiliated group of tribal groups) in Borneo armed with deadly blow-pipes into a small but effective army against the Japanese, eventually being credited with killing over 1,500 of the enemy.

Her new book, "The Airmen and the Headhunters", is an outgrowth of her book on Tom Harrison (who coincidentally was a neighbor of hers many years ago in Borneo - he died in 1976). It is a well-written and engaging account of 11 Yankee airman who survive a crash-landing of their B-24 "Liberator" bomber in November 1944 only to find themselves surrounded by Dayak tribesmen who agree to help them escape from and evade capture by the Japanese, an adventure which takes a harrowing six months. The result is an unexpected gem of a story of survival in which the airmen (untrained and unable to survive in the wilds of Borneo) are saved by a peoples who had nothing to gain and everything to lose (through the vengeance and retribution of the Japanese) by helping them out.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Airmen and Headhunters 31 Aug 2008
By A. Nelson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The book is a fascinating and well told story of a crew of young aviators who were shot down during a bombing mission to Brunei Bay, Borneo, on 16 November 1944. The Japanese fleet was refitting after losing the naval engagements in the Philippines in October and the 5th Heavy Bombardment wing was sent on an air strike to further damage the fleet - flying in at about 9,000 feet - a pretty low altitude. Minutes before they would be overhead their targets, one of the aircraft was hit by a six inch shell in the cockpit area; the dying copilot managed to get the crippled aircraft over land, and the crew parachuted into the one of the most primative and unexplored areas on the planet... the middle of the highlands of Borneo. There the real advanture begins.
I am the son of one of the airmen. I have known this story (most parts of it) since I found the "treaure trove" of letters, news clippings, souvenirs and photos at age 10. What I didn't know that in protecting these men, the native population started an uprising to free themselves of their Japanese oppressors, allowing the Australian troops to form up alongside a rebellion in progress. I was proud to read about my then 19 year old father and his equally young crewmates, and read how they "hid out" for over 8 months - and know about the bonds that formed between them and the natives of Borneo that lasted the rest of their lives. The unnamed airman on the right end of the photo of the crew during their jungle survival training is my father - no doubt about it, John Nelson.
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