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Devil at My Heels: A Heroic Olympian's Astonishing Story of Survival as a Japanese POW in World War II Paperback – November 1, 2011


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Devil at My Heels: A Heroic Olympian's Astonishing Story of Survival as a Japanese POW in World War II + Don't Give Up, Don't Give In: Lessons from an Extraordinary Life + Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reissue edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062118854
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062118851
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (308 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Zamperini was an intractable troublemaker of a youth who became a champion runner, competing in the 1936 Olympics and shaking hands with Hitler and Goebbels. When war seemed inevitable, he joined the Army Air Corps and flew a number of combat missions in the Pacific as a B-24 bombardier. In May 1943, his plane crashed on a routine search mission, and Zamperini and two survivors floated on a raft for 47 days before being taken prisoner by the Japanese. He spent the rest of the war in prison camps undergoing terrible abuse, as did many prisoners in Japan. After the war, disaffected and rootless, he attended an early Billy Graham revival and found religion. He became an inspirational speaker, eventually returned to Japan to confront and forgive his captors, and spent the rest of his life spreading Christianity and supporting various Christian endeavors. His memoir will fit well in inspirational collections, but it is also a well-written addition to the growing body of World War II personal narratives. Zamperini's positive attitude, resilience, and narrative strength make this a reasonable purchase for many public libraries and military collections. [During the 1998 Winter Olympics in Japan, Zamperini's story and dramatic return to face his torturer was chronicled on CBS's 48 Hours.-Ed.]-Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, K.
--Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, KS
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Zamperini and Rensin devote three-quarters of the former's autobiography to his ups and downs before the influence of Billy Graham turned him around and he became a well-known inspirational speaker. A near delinquent in interwar Los Angeles, he nevertheless became a good enough runner to make the U.S. team for the 1936 Olympics. Later, serving in the Army Air Force in World War II, he survived six weeks adrift on a raft after his plane went down at sea and then, more than two years of particularly atrocious treatment as a prisoner of the Japanese. His postwar rehabilitation involved opportunities missed, money squandered, and sieges of alcoholism until Graham's counsel took hold (he also credits his wife, paying her generous tribute). His book not only retells the interesting life story of a generation now passing from the scene but also adds significantly to knowledge of each of the kinds of experience he underwent. It will find readers and please them. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

A great book for anyone interested in history, WWII, Japan, or real-life adventures.
M. B. P.
Louie Zamperini's story, as told by Laura Hillenbrand in her book, inspired me to read "Devil at My Heels" by Louis Zamperini and David Rinson.
SRW
This man's amazing story of survival against all odds during WWII is truly miraculous.
Christiana Washington

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

203 of 204 people found the following review helpful By Unclebetty on February 13, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had read Unbroken first, then received Devil At My Heals as a gift on my IPAD. I decided to go ahead and read this version and was struck by how the first half of both books were basically identical, though more "first person experiences" with Devil than Unbroken. What became more striking with Devil is that the experience in war as a prisoner was really just prologue for his ultimate life's work which was his service to God. You do not get that sense with the Unbroken version. He never claimed to be a hero, claiming rather to be a survivor who got a lot of press. His tale of survival was amazing and his commitment to God after his post war trauma is equally admirable as his ability to survive the war. I would recommend the Devil version over the Unbroken version because it seemed more of a personal story as opposed to just a survival story.
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160 of 163 people found the following review helpful By Michael E. Tymn VINE VOICE on February 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
All of these television personalities who fancy themselves "survivors" for having undergone challenges of one kind or another on the various survival programs now popular might have a different perspective on survival if they read this book. Lou Zamperini is the "ultimate survivor."

To Zamperini, surviving meant starving and thirsting while confined to a life raft for 47 days. That ordeal included fighting off sharks while enemy planes shot at him. Surviving meant living with the tryanny, torture, and torment of his captors, including the threat of decapitation. It meant living through two cold winters as a prisoner of war, his body weight dropping to as low as 66 pound.

Zamperini was forced to survive in the rigid domain of despair, beyond the reach of help, or rest, or pity. Survival meantmeant living from day to day with the heart tearing itself between hope and fear, merely subsisting under a cloud of doom with no end in sight.

Yet, Zamperini was able to call upon the inner strength that had been nurtured in his days as an Olympic runner, and to endure.

Some of Zamperini's greatest challenges came after the war was over, the biggest one being overcoming the anger and hate he felt for this Japanese captors.
With God's help, "Lucky Louie" succeeded in every one of his challenges. It's a fascinating story, a story of real survival.
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86 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Christiana Washington on December 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I hope that Louis Zamperini's story becomes required reading for our children one day. This man's amazing story of survival against all odds during WWII is truly miraculous. To describe Louie as merely "lucky" misses the mark somehow. He should have died many times over before and during the war, but through God's grace and Zamperini's formidable willpower he survived to tell his story. And what an incredible, page-turning saga it is! I couldn't put this book down and after reading it, I was a changed woman. I had a new respect for my grandfather, and the men of his generation who suffered unimaginable horrors on the battlefields of Europe and Japan during the 1940's.
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77 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey T. Munson on October 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
In this exciting and epic book, author Louis Zamperini describes his life from a child through adulthood and the growth he experienced as a person during that time. Louis was a typical young child; full of mischief and adventure, and he always seemed to be getting into trouble for one thing or another, but thanks to his older brother Pete's love and encouragement, Louis' life began to change for the better.
Pete was an outstanding track and field athlete and he encouraged Louis to do the same. Soon, Louis was a world-class middle distance runner and held the national collegiate record for the mile run. He qualified for the 1936 Summer Olympics held in Berlin and placed eighth in his race. Even though he didn't win a medal, he still accomplished what the large majority of people never will.
A few years later, Louis joined the army as a navigator on a B-24 Liberator heavy bomber. Based in Hawaii, his crew participated in the bombing of Japanese-held territory as well as search and rescue missions. It was on one of these rescue missions that Louis' own plane became disabled and forced to crash. What happened next can only be described as a miracle, as Louis and another crewmember survived for forty seven days on a rubber raft, while eating small fish and even seabirds while collecting rainwater to drink.
After drifting for two thousand miles, Louis was finally picked up by the Japanese, where he was imprisoned on the Japanese-held island of Kwajalein. During his time in prison on Kwajalein and later in Japan itself, Louis was subjected to numerous beatings and very little food. One particular guard called "The Bird" was especially cruel.
The war finally ended in September, 1945, and slowly, Louis managed to return to civillian life.
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Carrie Cupcake Plum on February 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
I read Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken before I read this book. From reading Unbroken, I know that everything he says in this book is true and documented. It is an amazing story. I liked this book better than Unbroken, but would never just read one without the other. This is a story about his life so how can anyone be offended by the fact that he is religious--that is his life. Also, I think you need to be an overly optimistic person in order to have survived all that he did. He is a survivor, and survivors tend to be opportunists and self promoters, but what is wrong with that. I would bet that if he were growing up today he would be diagnosed with ADD or ADHD and would not have been able to have accomplished all that he did because he would have been stifled by treatment and a system that wants everyone to be the same.
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