Published by Random House on 16 Nov 2010
Genres: biography, war
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Powell's • Indiebound
I realize, after reading this, that I know very little about the Pacific part of World War II. When I thought of WWII, I conjured up pictures of Hitler and concentration camps full of tortured Jews.
Louie’s story has camps too. Torture camps. Ones where the officers kept the Red Cross supplies (which were suppose to be given to them as part of the Geneva Convention) and a particular guard, called The Bird, has it out for him.
I cannot recommend this book for everyone. It is pretty intense. When the going got tough, I listened to it in 30 minute chunks because I couldn’t handle any more of it. Needless to say, I could barely image living it. That being said, it is a pretty important book to read, even if it is just so that we remember the atrocities of war.
On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.
The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.
Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.