The Airmen and the Headhunters
In November 1944, a U.S. B-24 on a routine bombing run off the Borneo coast was shot down in a jungle region populated by the head-hunting Dayak tribe and patrolled by the Japanese. Fearing capture or decapitation, the crash survivors began a seven-month adventure befriending a savvy Dutch administrator, learning native customs, and demonstrating that white men could be more useful as allies than as decorations. Judith M. Heimann brings a visceral urgency to one of WWII’s most unlikely tales in The Airmen and the Headhunters. Along the way, she makes us — like the airmen — rethink our definitions of civilized and savage.