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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

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4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  1,171 ratings  ·  138 reviews
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
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Paperback, 292 pages
Published February 3rd 2004 by Harper Perennial (first published 1956)
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Abuela Linda
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
Darla
I read "Unbroken" before "Devil at My Heels," and I believe both books had 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 s
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Glenn
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
Heather
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
Courtney
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
Dale Stonehouse
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.
Sharon Powers
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: http://sharonsloveofbooks.blogspot.com/

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
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Jill
Jun 20, 2011 Jill rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Sylvie
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
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Krystina Brett
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dick Harding
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
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Marianna Peipon
Feb 27, 2013 Marianna Peipon rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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Angela
"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
Courtney
I think I liked this book better than "Unbroken". I have read that one twice and I gave it five stars as well. This one is more Louie. I like that it goes deeper into his conversion. The other book really just closes with it. "To who much has been given, much is expected".
Stephanie Hooper
Unbelievable!

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.
Stephanie
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
John
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.
Sharon King
After reading Unbroken a few years back I was interested in reading Louis Zamperini's own version, in his words. What Hillenbrand left out, Zamperini eloquently stated about his acceptance of Christ. I was disappointed in Unbroken's version that seemed to almost skip right over this part. Of course, when the movie comes out I am sure the same thing will happen. Zamperini didn't disappoint in writing how the Lord changed his life and how afterwards he desired to serve Him and be grateful for the ...more
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.
Heather
While in the middle of Unbroken, I started reading this book as well. I am glad I read them about the same time as I was able to connect certain incidents and find out what was happening to Louie's friends - which are talked about more in Unbroken - while also getting his thoughts on the things going on around him.

My family is something of an army family. Both my grandpas served, two or three uncles were in different branches and one fought in Vietnam, and my mom was in for a little while. With
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Suzanne
This book--told in first-person by Lucky Louie--is a great complement to Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Though it obviously covers the same dramatic tale of survival, it has a different tone, being told by the man who lived it all. Written much like I imagine he talks, the reader gets a better sense of Louie's personality, and the way he came to terms with the events of his remarkable life. There are also a number of details in Devil at My Heels that I don't remember from Unbroken--specifically ...more
Eugene Vibar
I'm sad this book is over, but am grateful that a man like Louis Zamperini was alive and frankly, lived to tell his tale. The choices he's made, his persistence through challenges, and how everything butterfly effects through his life. He makes us better by sharing his story, and I think all of us who appreciate his story will gladly pick up his last book of life lessons to keep them all fresh in our minds as we go about our own daily grinds and struggles.
I haven't read Unbroken. I went straight
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Suzanne
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.
Lindsey
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!
Roseanne Pennington
Great book. It felt as if you were just sitting and listening to him tell his incredible story.
Steve
This is an excellent read, Just like Laura Hillenbrand's book Unbroken, this is an autobiography of Louis Zamperini who grew up in a tough neighborhood in Torrance California and trained as a runner in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He joined the Army Air Corps as a lieutenant and became a navigator on a B24 Liberator which crashed in the Pacific Ocean during World War II. He became a POW by the Japanese and was brutally tortured by them. Years later in 1950, He became a missionary to Japan and went ...more
Daniel Currie
This is a much more fact-based presentation of his life than the very good, but overly melodramatic, "Unbroken". Louis starts at the beginning and chronicles not just the more dramatic aspects of his life, which is pretty dramatic, but also the after WWII experiences of finding God and dedicating himself to a religious way of life.

The writing is good, but certainly not flashy. It holds your attention throughout and doesn't sugarcoat or glamorize anything.

He had a very compelling and interestin
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Heather
I am afraid this book ruined Unbroken for me. I loved Unbroken but wanted to hear about his conversion from his own mouth. Disturbingly, his mouth seemed to prefer singing his own praises than his Savior’s. The Bible says that he who has been forgiven much will love much, but that doesn’t seem to be true of Louis Zamperini. I won’t say he doesn’t love Christ at all, only that he seems to prefer talking about himself and his efforts and his achievements. I wonder if his life represents the traged ...more
Linda Hoover
An amazing look into the life of a remarkable man! Be warned that it is not for the faint-of-heart as it does deal with aspects of being a prisoner of war in a Japanese prison camp that are anything but nice & clean. However, the story of this incredible man and his journey from Olympic runner to POW to survivor and Christian is a journey you will not want to miss out on!! Wonderful book and highly recommended for those who are old enough to handle gritty details of life in a POW camp.
Ryan
A fascinating story about an extraordinary man. Louis was a track star and close to a four minute miler. He competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and actually met Hitler. After joining the Army Air Force, Louis becomes a bombardier in Hawaii and crashes in the Pacific. He spends forty-seven days on raft, only to be captured by the Japanese to spend two brutal years in a POW camp. The entire time his family and the U.S. Government thought he was dead. After Japan was defeated and Louis was free ...more
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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
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More about Louis Zamperini...
Don't Give Up, Don't Give in: Lessons from an Extraordinary Life Sopravvissuto (eNewton Saggistica)

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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.” 41 likes
“Someone who doesn't make the (Olympic) team might weep and collapse. In my day no one fell on the track and cried like a baby. We lost gracefully. And when someone won, he didn't act like he'd just become king of the world, either. Athletes in my day were simply humble in our victory.
I believe we were more mature then...Maybe it's because the media puts so much pressure on athletes; maybe it's also the money. In my day we competed for the love of the sport...In my day we patted the guy who beat us on the back, wished him well, and that was it.”
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