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Devil at My Heels: A Heroic Olympian's Astonishing Story of Survival as a Japanese POW in World War II
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Devil at My Heels: A Heroic Olympian's Astonishing Story of Survival as a Japanese POW in World War II

4.31  ·  Rating Details ·  2,072 Ratings  ·  238 Reviews
The bestselling autobiography of the legendary Louis Zamperini, hero of the blockbuster Unbroken

A modern classic by an American legend,Devil at My Heelsis the riveting and deeply personal memoir by U.S. Olympian, World War II bombardier, and POW survivor Louis Zamperini. His inspiring story of courage, resilience, and faith has captivated readers and audiences ofUnbroken,n
ebook, 336 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 1956)
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Mary This book is by the man himself, unbroken is not. This book is more broad, about his entire life. Shorter less emphasis on the prison camps. It also…moreThis book is by the man himself, unbroken is not. This book is more broad, about his entire life. Shorter less emphasis on the prison camps. It also offers his thoughts and opinions on things, especially on how he survived and what he thought of folks he met along the way. I loved them both just different perspective I guess. The story of the man is the same. (less)
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Abuela Linda
Jun 06, 2012 Abuela Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading Laura Hillenbrand's "Unbroken" I decided to read Louis Zamperini's own story in his own words. I didn't expect much, but this book surprised me. The books are different. He doesn't dwell nearly as much on the tortures in the POW camp nor on his 2,000 mile, 47 day drifting at sea before he was captured by the Japanese. I thought this book had better balance. His religious conversion doesn't hit one as happening sort of out of the blue as it did in Laura Hillenbrand's book. He provid ...more
Aug 01, 2015 Darla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nf-history, wwii, memoir
I read "Unbroken" before "Devil at My Heels," and I believe both books have great merit. Some may complain that Louie spent most of his book tooting his own horn, and that Hildebrand didn't add anything substantial to the story told in the subject's own words, but I would disagree with both arguments.

"Devil" is written in first person with a story telling speed set at 'supersonic.' Louie was a larger than life character who became a real hero to many. I wouldn't expect him to tell anyone else's
Gwen Burrow
Mar 15, 2015 Gwen Burrow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I'd already read Unbroken so I thought Louie's considerably slimmer autobiography probably wouldn't tell me anything I didn't already know, but decided to read it anyway because I love the story and wanted to hear it in Louie's own words. I'm so glad I did. I wouldn't recommend one book over the other; they are amazing in different ways and I'd hand both to anyone. Laura Hillenbrand is technically the better writer (she's better than most writers I've ever read) and she's more exhaustive in her ...more
Sep 30, 2014 Courtney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2014
This book has the soul and emotion that Unbroken lacks. I read Devil at My Heels after Unbroken, looking for inner thoughts, feelings and emotions and that it what I found. Zamperini spends much more time discussing his conversion, forgiveness, and influence, which was so curious to me in Unbroken. So I suggest reading the books in that order, as Zamperini does not include the depth and breath of information Hillenbrand writes about. Both books are worth the time. If you only want to read one, r ...more
Nov 23, 2011 Glenn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I read this autobiography/memoir after reading Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, which was written later (in 2010 by Laura Hillebrand of Seabiscuit fame) and that's been very popular. It detailed Louis Zamperini's life, including his time spent in Japanese POW camps during WWII. There is a lot of overlap across the books, many of the same events and particular details are covered in both, but I recommend either one (or both) for an engaging true-life story. ...more
I, like many others, first heard of Louis Zamperini because of Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, which I devoured in a weekend and is in my top ten books in my entire reading experience. Naturally, I was pleased to learn that the man himself had written a book telling the story of his experiences from his own perspective, so I waited for it for weeks at the library and finally had a chance to revisit the world of this famous former Olympi ...more
Nov 12, 2015 Sleepless rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lot of what I'd planned to say has already been said and I have about a thousand other things to do so I'll make this review quick.

In a really funny twist of fate, in my modern art class today, we talked about the art done by the Japanese after the atom bombs. It really added perspective, at least for me. While reading this book, it's really easy to get angry at the Japanese. I sympathized with Louie so I was very not okay with the Japanese. After today's lesson, it hit me that those bombs wer
Though it is the same story, it is a completely different book than the other book with this name. This was written in the 1950s and then four decades later, for whatever reason, Louis Zamperini used a different ghostwriter to tell his story but kept the same title. This older book is out of print and expensive to buy but thankfully the library at The Southern Baptist Seminary has a copy. I wanted to compare the two books. I had been very disappointed in the newer book, but was happy that the ol ...more
Dale Stonehouse
Dec 01, 2011 Dale Stonehouse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't think amazing quite does this book justice; unbelievable is more like it. It has been years since I read it but his account of surviving 47 days at sea on a rubber raft stuck with me. Imagine eating shark and albatross flesh, both of which he said smelled very bad until you got really hungry. Yet this is only part of his story; his life as an Olympic athlete, POW and more are all here. Zamperini gets my vote as the greatest of the greatest generation.
Jul 24, 2012 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a great read, full of action and a lot of twists and turns. The best thing about it is that all of it is real. I thought it was easy to read,captivating and almost impossible to put down. I love true stories like this, and Louis Zamperini's impossible trek through WWII is absolutely incredible. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in WWII.
May 30, 2012 Sylvie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rarely do you read what seems like what really happened ...
without going as far as saying that I got emotional, one cannot stay insensitive to this story.
poignant !
You will not believe it but I had decided to finish this book while I was traveling from Canada to Japan (I had NOT thought about the relationship with the book and traveling to Japan) and what happened ???
Yes I was in that flight ... just too weird !!!!

Air Canada plane makes emergency landing at Pearson amid reports of falling debris
Sharon Powers
Nov 06, 2014 Sharon Powers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Book Review by Sharon Powers.

I have reviewed on my blog, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand; it is her book about Louis Zamperini. It is Louis Zamperini's book, Devil at My Heels, that I review, here, today. If you would like to take a look at Unbroken, you can find it on my blog: Sharon's Love of Books at:

I do mention Devil at My Heels in the blog post as a comparison of the two books. You might want to know that between the two books, I like this book better
Krystina Brett
Jul 17, 2012 Krystina Brett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 20, 2011 Jill rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: WWII buffs, history buffs, anyone who read and enjoyed Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken (previously reviewed) piqued my interest in the story of Louis Zamperini, so when I found that he had actually published his autobiography in 2003, of course I had to read it. Unbroken was an excellent book and very well-researched, however it seemed to lack Mr. Zamperini's thoughts, feelings, point of view, and it was that omission I was seeking to fill by reading this book. To some extent that was accomplished, and I enjoyed the book, however it included very few d ...more
Marianna Peipon
Feb 27, 2013 Marianna Peipon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
I discovered this book at an airport and put it on my kindle to read at some point. I gave my husband Unbroken, a highly-recommended book about the life of Louis Zamperini. About the same time I ran across Devil at My Heels on my kindle and started to read it. I had the time to read some each day and I was hooked. I wasn't wild about the writing style -- he tends to jump around and I had to stop to put the pieces together from time-to-time -- but the content is absolutely amazing.

I cannot imagi
Dick Harding
Oct 12, 2012 Dick Harding rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here is someone born in Olean, NY! I think this was a phenomenal book. As the cover blurb will probably tell you he survived over a month adrift at sea during WWII when his plane went down and then he was picked up by the Japanese and was a prisoner. He certainly caused a lot of trouble in his youth too.

All that would make an interesting story, but the real story is the power of forgiveness. He certainly had good reason to be bitter but it was destroying his life. It's a good lesson that forgive
Jan 16, 2011 Angela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"DEVIL AT MY HEELS" by Louis Zamperini is an astonishing and way past amazing story about his life. The books starts off when he was young and builds up from the beginning to the end. At first Louis did not go down the right path. All of his family tried to get him on the right track but no one besides his brother was able to. His brother was in track and field and encouraged Louis to try. Turns out he was a natural and went on the many competitions including the Olympics. In World War Two Louis ...more
Apr 08, 2012 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This gentleman just gave a speech at my son's school. His story is so amazing. He cheated death so many times, and never knew why. He was called "Lucky Louie!". Only after he returned, got married, and was dealing with stress by drinking did he become a Christian! His wife took him to hear Billy Graham, and has lived his life for Christ ever since! The book is not religious at all. It tells his incredible story, and only at the end describes his religious conversion. God saved his life so many t ...more
Jamison Feldman
Apr 25, 2016 Jamison Feldman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Devil At My Heels provided a whole new perspective on World War 2. It gave an inside look on what really occurred in the POW camps set up in Japan. Although some parts of the book were slow at times, that was only a result of lots of in-depth descriptions. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in World War 2 or history, or if you want an incredible true story, told by Louis Zamperini himself.
LOVED this story! What an amazing life Louis Zamperini lived. I had tried to read Unbroken a few years ago - which is also a story about Louis - but I couldn't finish it. This book? I couldn't put it down! I immediately recommended this book to my mom. Incredible story!!!
Mar 15, 2013 Lindsey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: need-to-purchase
Absolutely inspiring. Louie Zamperini is a real man of God and has lived an amazingly inspiring life. This book makes you want to live every moment as if it was your last and count your blessings every second of your life. Amazing!
Jan 14, 2016 Renee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great read and an inspirational book- couldn't put it down at times! Probably not a good book to read just before bed though as the action keeps you awake for hours afterward!
A really amazing story!
Alex de G
This was a really great book which, like many things in life, was RUINED by religion.

For 70% of the book I loved the story - what an adventure! And then Louis found "God". And so the remaining 30% of the book he talked about "God"... NON STOP

Completely ruined an otherwise fantastic book.
Stephanie Hooper

I highly recommend reading Louis' own account of his story. I loved reading his own thoughts about what he went through, and feel it only enhanced my enjoyment of Unbroken, written by Laura Hillenbrand.
Sep 22, 2012 Suzanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
Louis Zamperini, in his own voice, this is the version you want to read. Outstanding, WWII history untainted by revisionism and essential reading for whippersnappers who might ask, "what made the greatest generation so great?" To say more would be a spoiler.
Jane Patterson
May 04, 2016 Jane Patterson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone needs to read this book. This is why they called it the "Greatest Generation". You don't find people like Louie Z any more. Very inspirational.
Roseanne Pennington
Great book. It felt as if you were just sitting and listening to him tell his incredible story.
Dec 26, 2016 CHC94 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-books
I love reading about World War II. Fiction, non-fiction, Pacific theater, Atlantic theater, Stateside, it doesn't matter. I first read Unbroken by Laura Hillebrand, which is the biography of Louis Zamperini.

"Lucky Louie" started out with multiple run-ins with the authorities; he says that if his brother, Pete, had not steered him towards running, he probably would have met a worse fate. This book and Unbroken are very similar - even down to some of the recollections of his POW experiences - but
Urenna Sander
Apr 10, 2016 Urenna Sander rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Devil at My Heels reveals the remarkably candid autobiography of Louis Zamperini. Although reared in a loving family, Zamperini was a clever, streetwise delinquent. He escaped the streets of Torrance, California, unscathed during his youth for the love of ‘running.’ During his teen years, Zamperini’s older brother, Pete, cultivated his running skills. However, Zamperini learned accountability and leadership in sports.

Zamperini’s became so adept at running that he not only beat out other high sch
Carolyn Henry
Nov 03, 2016 Carolyn Henry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Louis' own story of his captivity in a Japanese POW camp. There were so many unimaginable things that happened to him that it is amazing he was able to live through it.
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Louis Zamperini is best known for Laura Hillenbrand's book "Unbroken: A WWII Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption".

Zamperini's life started out hard. Born to Italian immigrants in New York, his family moved to Torrance, California when Louis was a toddler. At the time Louie knew no English, making him the perfect target for bullies.

With a string of luck, Louie's older brother Pete got him
More about Louis Zamperini...

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“The one who forgives never brings up the past to that person's face. When you forgive, it's like it never happened. True forgiveness is complete and total.” 70 likes
“I'd made it this far and refused to give up because all my life I had always finished the race.” 55 likes
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