Devil at My Heels

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9780060934217: Devil at My Heels

The "inspirational" and "extraordinary" memoir of one of the most courageous of the greatest generation, Louis Zamperini: Olympian, WWII Japanese POW and survivor.

A juvenile delinquent, a world class NCAA miler, a 1936 Olympian, a WWII bombardier: Louis Zamperini had a fuller than most, when it changed in an instant. On May 27, 1943, his B–24 crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Louis and two other survivors found a raft amid the flaming wreckage and waited for rescue. Instead, they drifted two thousand miles for forty–seven days. Their only food: two shark livers and three raw albatross. Their only water: sporadic rainfall. Their only companions: hope and faith–and the ever–present sharks. On the forty–seventh day, mere skeletons close to death, Zamperini and pilot Russell Phillips spotted land–and were captured by the Japanese. Thus began more than two years of torture and humiliation as a prisoner of war.

Zamperini was threatened with beheading, subject to medical experiments, routinely beaten, hidden in a secret interrogation facility, starved and forced into slave labour, and was the constant victim of a brutal prison guard nicknamed the Bird–a man so vicious that the other guards feared him and called him a psychopath. Meanwhile, the Army Air Corps declared Zamperini dead and President Roosevelt sends official condolences to his family, who never gave up hope that he was alive.

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About the Author:

Louis Zamperini is the subject of Lauren Hillenbrand's critically acclaimed biography Unbroken, the research for which was conducted over the course of more than 75 phone calls between Zamperini and the author, resulting in hundreds of hours of interviews. Zamperini is a regular lecturer, appearing before student groups, veterans, troubled youth, sports clubs, senior citizens, and religious organizations. Zamperini, now 93, lives in Hollywood, and only recently gave up skateboarding.

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.

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