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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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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.
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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Top customer reviews
Louis Zamperini's story is nothing short of amazing. A tough street kid who finds himself through athletics, he becomes an Olympian, meets Hitler, serves heroically in the Pacific during WWII, miraculously survives a plane crash at sea and weeks in a life raft only to be captured by the Japanese. The brutal treatment he received in captivity (the rule rather than the exception from the Japanese, sadly) was tempered by acts of kindness from a few of his guards. Postwar, he marries the girl of his dreams but struggles with life until he finally comes to Jesus after hearing Billy Graham speak.
Zamperini's life continues well into his 90's and is nothing short of amazing. Read the book - YOU'LL be amazed as well.
At times, it was a hard read for me, there was a lot of slang and descriptions I did not understand. So if anyone wants to enlighten me, please help me understand this part. When he describes Frank Sinatra, "He's the top singer in America. The bobby soxers are rolling in aisles." So I get he is a singer and bobby soxers are singers but I did not understand what he meant by rolling in the aisles. This is just one example but there were many times I was a little lost. I looked up words, locations and did research to understand what he was saying. I also wished he were more descriptive, I do appreciate that he got straight to the point or this book would be longer. But he never told us what happened to the other survivor in the raft. I was only able to find minimal information about Phil.
Overall, I could not put this book down his life story has greatly affected me! Truly, if he can forgive those soldiers for what they did to him, then I can forgive others as well. I will do my best to live my life to the fullest!! He is such an inspiration and I will hold onto this book when life gets me down. Thanks Lucky Louis for being such an inspiration. You definitely fought the good fight and finished the race!
A story of one man's growth through some horrendous trials and tribulations; of endurance; of forgiveness; and redemption. A very compelling read.
The book has been thoroughly described by others, but I'd like to comment on some of the reviews. Some have panned the book because he converted to Christianity and are upset that he spent "so much time at the end of the book on his faith and Billy Graham." Well, this was an important aspect, actually reflecting back, he considered it THE MOST IMPORTANT aspect of his life. So it is his prerogative to include it and expand on it in HIS BIOGRAPHY. You may not like it, or agree with his faith, but it is a significant part of his life. And I'll tell you, unlike so many wolves in sheep's clothing within the church, he truly lived the faith. His faith made it possible for him to go back to Japan after the war. Geez, deal with it!
If you like this book - there is a similar autobiography and experience during the Vietnam War.... "Hero Found: The Greatest POW Escape of the Vietnam War" the story of Dieter Dengler of which the movie "Rescue Dawn" is based, starring Christian Bale.