Flying the notorious "hump route" between India and China in 1943, a twin-engine plane suffered mechanical failure and crashed in a dense mountain jungle. Among the passengers and crew were celebrated CBS journalist Eric Sevareid, a Soviet double agent posing as an OSS operative, and General Joseph "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell's personal political adviser.
Against the odds, all but one of the 21 people aboard the aircraft survived - but they fell from the frying pan into the fire. They landed in wild countryside dominated by the Nagas, notorious headhunters who routinely practiced slavery and human sacrifice. Japanese soldiers lay close by, too, with their own brand of hatred for Americans. Among the Headhunters is the first account of this incredible story.
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I enjoyed this book, but very little of it involved the story described in the marketing blurb. The description of the plane disaster was dramatic, but once the passengers and pilots parachuted to the ground, the fearsome headhunters turned out to be pretty friendly, and there was no indication of Japanese soldiers anywhere in the area.
One large section of the book was devoted to American concerns that the Chinese Nationalists were siphoning war aid into their own pockets or using it to fight communists rather than the Japanese. Another large section described British military expeditions to punish headhunters in the decades before the war. I found all of this interesting, but it was marketed deceptively.
- Planetary Defense Commander