The Airmen and the Headhunters: A True Story of Lost Soldiers, Heroic Tribesmen and the Unlikeliest Rescue of World War II

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A true story of downed B-24s in Japanese-occupied Borneo and a native tribe that “makes us—like the airmen—rethink our definitions of civilized and savage” (Entertainment Weekly).

November 1944: Their B-24 bomber shot down on what should have been an easy mission off the Borneo coast, a scattered crew of Army airmen cut themselves loose from their parachutes—only to be met by loincloth-wearing natives silently materializing out of the mountainous jungle. Would these Dayak tribesmen turn the starving airmen over to the hostile Japanese occupiers? Or would the Dayaks risk vicious reprisals to get the airmen safely home in a desperate game of hide-and-seek? A cinematic survival story featuring a bamboo airstrip built on a rice paddy, a mad British major, and a blowpipe-wielding army that helped destroy one of the last Japanese strongholds, The Airmen and the Headhunters is also a gripping tale of wartime heroism unlike any other you have read.
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About the author

Judith M. Heimann is a career diplomat and the author of The Most Offending Soul Alive. She spent seven years living in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, and speaks Indonesian. She traveled to three continents and interviewed all the surviving Dayaks and airmen in her research for this book. She lives in Washington, DC, and Brussels.
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Additional Information

Publisher
HMH
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Published on
Jan 15, 2009
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780547416069
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Asia / Southeast Asia
History / Military / World War II
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Repackaged in a new tie-in edition to coincide with the Netflix film produced and directed by Angelina Jolie, a moving story of war crimes and desperate actions, the unnerving strength of a small girl and her triumphant spirit as she survived the Cambodian genocide under Pol Pot’s brutal regime.

Until the age of five, Loung Ung lived in Phnom Penh, one of seven children of a high-ranking government official. She was a precocious child who loved the open city markets, fried crickets, chicken fights, and sassing her parents. While her beautiful mother worried that Loung was a troublemaker—that she stomped around like a thirsty cow—her beloved father knew Loung was a clever girl.

When Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge army stormed into Phnom Penh in April 1975, Ung’s family fled their home and moved from village to village to hide their identity, their education, their former life of privilege. Eventually, the family dispersed in order to survive. Loung trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans, while other siblings were sent to labor camps. As the Vietnamese penetrated Cambodia, destroying the Khmer Rouge, Loung and her surviving siblings were slowly reunited.

Bolstered by the shocking bravery of one brother, the courage and sacrifices of the rest of her family—and sustained by her sister’s gentle kindness amid brutality—Loung forged on to create for herself a courageous new life. Harrowing yet hopeful, insightful and compelling, this story is truly unforgettable.

 

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