Saturday, July 2, 2011

UNBROKEN - A book report


This is an incredible true life account of an American born in 1917 and still alive as the book went to print. As a novel it would have been a thriller to read. What this man accomplished and how he survived under incredible circumstances is mind boggling. The author did voluminous research in uncovering and verifying the events.
The man’s name is Louis Zamperini. He was uncontrollable as a boy, constantly in trouble. He discovered that he could be exceptional as a runner and he devoted his energy to improve. He nearly broke the four minute mile running in the same era as Glenn Cunningham who was the first to accomplish this feat. He competed in the Olympic Games in Germany in 1936. It was the 5000 meters race. His time was 14:46.8, the fastest time of any American that year. That was only good enough for eighth place but in final lap he ran the fastest time ever recorded. Adolf Hitler was so impressed he wanted to meet Louie. Hitler said “Ah, you’re the boy with the fast finish”.
Once WWII began Louie enlisted and was placed in the Army Air Corp. He trained as a Bombardier in B-24’s. He was sent to the Pacific Theatre. His odyssey began when his plane crashed into the ocean. Only the Pilot and one other crewman survived. They drifted for 47 days, finally being captured by the Japanese and imprisoned. Only the Pilot and Louie were alive. The story of survival on the raft would be enough but the worst was yet to come. He was sent to Japan as a war trophy after they discovered who he was. He sustained unrelenting punishment by sadistic guards. One in particular had an obsession about him and struck him regularly.
As the war was drawing to the end, the prisoners discovered that on August 22, 1945 all prisoners were to be executed. The Emperor told his people that the war was lost on August 15 and that all hostilities were to cease. That was all that saved them.
The physical and mental torment the prisoners had faced followed them as they were released. In Louis’s case he became an alcoholic as his way of escaping reality. A chance meeting with a young Billy Graham in Los Angeles saved him. He remembered the vow he had made on the raft to give his life to the Lord and went on to be productive as a citizen and father.
I give this book my highest recommendation to read.

Jack B. Walters - July 2, 2011

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