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Extended Audio Sample The Airmen and the Headhunters: A True Story of Lost Soldiers, Heroic Tribesmen and the Unlikeliest Rescue of World War II Audiobook, by Judith M. Heimann Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (143 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Judith M. Heimann Narrator: Susan Ericksen Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2007 ISBN: 9781400175093
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November 1944: Army airmen set out in a B-24 bomber on what should have been an easy mission off the Borneo coast. Instead they found themselves unexpectedly facing a Japanese fleet—and were shot down. When they cut themselves loose from their parachutes, they were scattered across the island's mountainous interior. Then a group of loincloth-wearing natives silently materialized out of the 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? The tribal leaders' unprecedented decision led to a desperate game of hide-and-seek and, ultimately, the return of a long-renounced ritual: head-hunting. A cinematic survival story that features 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 a gripping, you-are-there journey into the remote world and forgotten heroism of the Dayaks. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[Susan Ericksen] is consistent, fluent, and distinct. Having a woman narrate a story all about men puts Ericksen at no disadvantage.”

    AudioFile

  • Heimann brings a visceral urgency to one of WWII's most unlikely tales. Entertainment Weekly
  • “Heimann brings a visceral urgency to one of WWII’s most unlikely tales.”

    Entertainment Weekly

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lori Watson koenig | 2/16/2014

    " Just an all-around amazing book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Keith Bell | 2/5/2014

    " World War 2 survival story. Could have been a better story if the author had of included more commentary from the survivors themselves. I do understand that access to accounts was limited but will look for other accounts. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vicki | 2/4/2014

    " Fascinating, and I chose to read this after watching the PBS special. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lance Geiger | 1/22/2014

    " A gripping tale for lovers of Military hostory. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Diane | 1/10/2014

    " A surprisingly good book about Americans shot down over Borneo during WW II. I very much enjoyed the story and learning a little about the Dayak (headhunters) of Borneo. The Dayaks rescued the Americans and saved their lives. This a picture of a culture that has now been destroyed. Very worth reading. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen | 1/9/2014

    " Facinationg true story of survival and loss. Kept me riveted. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jack Geiselman | 1/4/2014

    " I enjoy historical adventure and found this story interesting because there is little written about the WWII experience of the AAF in Borneo. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susanna | 12/31/2013

    " Fascinating true story about two downed planes and the tribes that live in the uplands of Borneo. Combination of history, adventure, geography and anthrophology. Really enjoyed it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patricia | 12/2/2013

    " An interesting tidbit of history from WWII that would not otherwise told in the course of history. The writing was drier than I expected - to be such a fascinating topic, the author wrote with textbook-like dryness that sucked some of the life out of the story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dot | 9/29/2013

    " While waiting to read Unbroken someone recommended this. The stories of the Greatest Generation never cease to amaze! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jenny | 7/15/2013

    " Highly-readable account of American pilots shot down over Borneo, and their rescue by the Dayak tribesmen. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Colleen | 4/13/2013

    " Fantastic. The only criticism I have is that it was a bit disjointed, hard to keep track of which individual or group was where, but, in a way, that probably made it closer to the experience as it was lived. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rachel | 1/31/2013

    " An inspiring story of the imact of the Gospel on native people groups than the American soldiers who encountered them. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rose Ann | 11/20/2012

    " Excellent book; describes how WW II pilots were shot down by Japanese over Borneo, and how some of them survived and were finally rescued. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Christopher Steele | 2/4/2012

    " This is one hell of a story; you couldn't make it up if you tried "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dennis | 5/23/2011

    " Great true story about the crew of a B24 crew shot down over the wilds of Borneo in the waning days of WWII. Well researched and entertaining. A good look into the culture of the Dayaks of Borneo and a little know episode of WWII. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paul | 5/14/2011

    " This is one of the best books on WW2 I've read.It's a pleasure to read about an unknown story of
    survivial and a daring rescue.How the tribes of Borneo,though primitive,were quite courageous.
    Of I can't forget the bravery of our airmen either.

    "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Colleen | 11/11/2010

    " Fantastic. The only criticism I have is that it was a bit disjointed, hard to keep track of which individual or group was where, but, in a way, that probably made it closer to the experience as it was lived. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rose | 7/9/2010

    " Excellent book; describes how WW II pilots were shot down by Japanese over Borneo, and how some of them survived and were finally rescued. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vicki | 6/9/2010

    " Fascinating, and I chose to read this after watching the PBS special. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jack | 4/10/2009

    " I enjoy historical adventure and found this story interesting because there is little written about the WWII experience of the AAF in Borneo. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susanna | 4/9/2009

    " Fascinating true story about two downed planes and the tribes that live in the uplands of Borneo. Combination of history, adventure, geography and anthrophology. Really enjoyed it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patricia | 4/24/2008

    " An interesting tidbit of history from WWII that would not otherwise told in the course of history. The writing was drier than I expected - to be such a fascinating topic, the author wrote with textbook-like dryness that sucked some of the life out of the story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jenny | 12/4/2007

    " Highly-readable account of American pilots shot down over Borneo, and their rescue by the Dayak tribesmen. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dennis | 12/2/2007

    " Great true story about the crew of a B24 crew shot down over the wilds of Borneo in the waning days of WWII. Well researched and entertaining. A good look into the culture of the Dayaks of Borneo and a little know episode of WWII. "

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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 The Airmen and the Headhunters. She lives in Washington, DC, and Brussels.

About the Narrator

Susan Ericksen is an actor and voice-over artist. She has been awarded twenty AudioFile Earphones Awards as well as the prestigious Audie Award. As an actor and director, she has worked in theaters throughout the country.