This book takes the reader through the life of Louis Zamperini, the Olympic athlete and WWII veteran who survived being a prisoner of Japanese POW camps. It is 398 pages and a bit of a tear jerker as well.
The book covers the entire spectrum of his life; from his childhood, Olympic career, through his later years in life but the bulk of it covers his service in the Army Air Force and his time in the POW camps.
This book is exceptionally well written and provides excellent details not just for Zamperini but several of his fellow prisoners in the camps as well as some of the guards like the “Bird”. Hillenbrand has a way of writing that makes these people feel like they are a part of your life so when these horrific things happen to them (especially in the camps), the reader feels like they are right there with them. I lost count of the number of times I literally yelled out “You have to be kidding me!!” or “I can’t believe this is happening!” I haven’t read her other book “Seabiscuit” but if it’s anywhere near as good as this book, I want to add it to my list.
Hillenbrand also doesn’t shy away from Zamperini’s commitment to Christianity in his later life which some authors might do to appeal to a broader audience. The transformation seems extreme in such a short time but being a Christian myself, I’ve seen some pretty amazingly short transformations myself so it wasn’t unbelievable to me.
She’s also done a great job giving details about the war itself – from the specs of the various planes to what was going on in the bigger picture of the Pacific campaign of WWII.
I haven’t read too many books on POW camps of any kind for any war but this book had me buying or wish-listing on Amazon 4 more books which includes one about the Japanese internment camps here in the US.
This book makes the reader cheer on Zamperini and his fellow prisoners throughout the book and throughout their lives – I would highly recommend this book to ALL readers. There’s a movie version coming out December 25, 2014 and I’m looking forward to seeing it.
Overall, I give it 4 and a half stars (5 stars on Goodreads – yes, that’s right! I don’t give those out too often). Have you read it? What did you think?
The next review will be for “Bataan Death March: A Survivor’s Account” by Lt. Col. William E. Dyess which I’m currently reading.
On deck: “We Were Soldier’s Once…And Young” by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (Ret.) and Joseph L. Galloway.
In the bullpen: “An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943” by Rick Atkinson (the first book in a trilogy).
What are you reading?