81 Days Below Zero

Mar 8, 2022 | Reviews & Recommendations

81 Days Below Zero81 Days Below Zero

Brian Murphy with Toula Vlahou
Da Capo Press 2016

Shortly before Christmas 1943, a doomed test flight took off from Ladd Field near Fairbanks, Alaska. Faulty instruments gave bad readings and the weather did the rest. Only one man survived the crash, a city guy from Philly. With no wilderness experience and a lack of proper clothing and food, Leon Crane somehow survived nearly twelve weeks alone in brutally cold weather in the Yukon wilderness, and eventually rescued himself by walking to safety.

Hard to put down. I read this book in a couple of days. It’s well written and fast paced. Murphy’s prose puts you in the story. Makes you feel the bitter wind, the penetrating cold, and Leon’s relentless hunger pangs.


“Author Brian Murphy recounts the little known experience of 1st Lieutenant Leon Crane who bailed out of his crashing B-24D bomber over eastern Alaska on the first day of winter, 1943. Amazingly, Crane’s wits, resourcefulness, and a modicum of luck were the necessary resources for him to survive and find his way back to civilization after nearly 12 weeks of snow, ice, wind, and sub-zero temperatures in the Alaskan wilderness.”  — Thomas McClung, New York Journal of Books

Available at many online stores.

Read more about life in the Arctic. Read Fifty Miles from Tomorrow by William L. Iggiagruk Hensle. Here’s my review.