My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I finally read a book before the movie was made! Apparently it’s in the works with various names being thrown around to play Zamperini, Nicolas Cage, Ryan Gosling, and James Franco. Can’t wait to see it and say, “Oh, the book was so much better.”
And to be honest, I didn’t read it. My husband and I listened to it as we drove between Ga. and Md. on our summer vacation. I highly recommend this. Public libraries have great collections of audio books. Give it go, because it really makes the time fly.
Regardless, it was a moving book. Louis Zamperini is an amazing man, from his troublesome youth to his athletic accomplishments to his horrifying experiences in the WWII to his journey to salvation and forgiveness. The story is almost too unbelievable to be true, but then you can find videos of him on youtube from the Nagano Olympics and Jay Leno and he tells the exact same story. It is unimaginable the things he endured during his 47 days on a raft and his 20+ months in the Japanese camps. As the story unfolded, I found myself asking, “How can it get any worse?” And then it did. The worst was the torture by Watanabe, known by the prisoners as “The Bird.” He was a ruthless, sadistic, and cruel man who targeted Louis. Repeatedly, we asked why they didn’t just kill him. Even his fellow Japanese guards knew that he was unstable and disliked him. The fact that Watanabe is never punished for his atrocities is the part of the book that still haunts me. It is also the part that convicts me the most, since Zamperini forgave him. His ability to forgive even this astounds me and inspires me.
This is a great book and the title is completely accurate: a story of survival, resilience, and redemption. I highly recommend it!!!
Don’t have time to read the whole book, but want to hear his story?
Here’s a link to the documentary CBS produced for the Nagano Olympics, where Louis carried the torch less than an hour from one of the Japanese camps he spent time in. It is 40 minutes long, but well worth it!