Cover of Lost in the Pacific, 1942 by Tod Olson

Lost in the Pacific, 1942

The dramatic true story of survival that captivated a nation at war

In October 1942, a bomber carrying World War I ace Eddie Rickenbacker vanished somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. While Americans eagerly awaited news of their greatest living war hero, Rickenbacker and the crew drifted in three tiny rafts, beset by sharks, storms, and desperate thirst. Their ordeal became one of the most gripping wartime survival stories ever.

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Praise for Lost in the Pacific…

“A fascinating TRUE STORY that will thrill readers! Action-packed and impossible to put down.”
—Lauren Tarshis, New York Times bestselling author of the I Survived series

Kirkus Starred Review
“Olson tells the harrowing true story of how eight men in three tiny inflatable rafts, lost in 68 million square miles of shark-infested Pacific Ocean without food or water and near enemy-held territory, survived three weeks before being rescued. Instead of a combat mission, Capt. Bill Cherry’s B-17 bomber was transporting one of America’s greatest living war heroes, World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker. Rickenbacker, second only to Charles Lindbergh in fame as a flyer, was to visit Guadalcanal and other bases of operation in the Pacific war zone on a secret fact-finding mission for the Pentagon. Unable to locate its refueling stop, the plane ditched in the ocean, deep in the battle zone. In a dramatic, intensely compelling narrative, Olson chronicles how everyone aboard the B-17 managed to survive three agonizing weeks of dehydration, malnutrition, exposure, threatening tiger sharks, and increasingly waning morale as they desperately waited for rescue. Olson does a particularly fine job conveying the personalities of these men, especially Rickenbacker, who is depicted as harsh and overbearing but perhaps indispensable in keeping up the other men’s spirits. As heroic as all these men were in helping each other survive the ordeal, none were immune to human foibles. Archival photos and other materials punctuate the text, such images as a photo of a lifeboat demo and a war-rationing poster providing valuable context. A riveting, completely engrossing true survival story.”

“Olson is a masterful storyteller who lets the facts unleash the thrills and never taints authentic tension with florid cheesiness.”
—Elizabeth Bush, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“This is the inspiring and nail-biting true account of eight men (the flight crew and two others), including WWI war hero Eddie Rickenbacker, who were lost at sea in WWII for three weeks after their plane crashed.”
— Sharon Rawlins, Booklist