Laura Hillenbrand (author of Seabiscuit ) took seven years and 75 interviews with Louis Zamperini to research and collect the facts to write Unbroken,...moreLaura Hillenbrand (author of Seabiscuit ) took seven years and 75 interviews with Louis Zamperini to research and collect the facts to write Unbroken, which was published in 2010. The book is very well written, exciting and moving. It was clearly thoroughly researched to relate interesting and accurate information about the war events and the activities of the Air Corps. It also gives the reader some insight into what POWs have suffered (some in rather graphic detail), as well as what life is like for our war veterans after returning home. Hillenbrand has broken Zamperini’s story into five parts, as follows:
Part One – Running and Flying Louie Zamperini’s knack for resilience and determination became evident very early on in his life and would carry him through some of the most challenging and harrowing experiences imaginable. As a child, Louie was always on-the-go and into mischief, which later would often involve local law enforcement. As he moved into his high school years, running from the law was exchanged for running on a track, thanks to his brother Pete, who encouraged and trained with him. Louie’s career as a track star began in 1933, when in tenth grade he began competing in high school track. Breaking one record after another, Louie was virtually unbeatable, as one news reporter wrote, “Boy! oh boy! Can that guy fly?” and Louie was given the nickname “The Torrance Torpedo.” In 1936 he competed in the World Olympics, held in Berlin, Germany. He came home without a medal, but set his eyes on 1941, when he would compete as an Olympic runner in Tokyo.
Part Two – Brief Career as a Bombardier But at age 20, Louis Zamperini’s promising future as an Olympic track medalist was shot down. In 1940 the Tokyo Olympic Games were cancelled, and the following year Louie enlisted in the Air Corps and began his training as a bombardier. This part of the story introduces the reader to Louie’s training, life in the barracks, his fellow crew members and companions (most of whom would die), and the search-and-rescue and bombing missions they conducted in their B-24 bomber.
Part Three – Stranded at Sea When Louie’s plane was shot down and he was left to survive on a raft with two fellow crewmen in the middle of the Pacific for 46 days, what they experienced is terrible beyond anything most of us could imagine. What kind of scenario could you imagine yourself in where sniffing your earwax might be a source of comfort and pleasure? Consider this:
“With every day that passed without rescue, the prospects for raft-bound men worsened dramatically. Raft provisions lasted a few days at most. Hunger, thirst, and exposure to blistering sun by day and chill by night depleted survivors with frightening rapidity. Some men died in days. Others went insane.”
Harvesting rain water and catching a rare bird or fish for raw consumption was all they had to sustain them. Add to this sharks circling below and enemy planes firing from above, and you get a bit of the picture. To keep their minds alert and sane, the men told each other stories about home, quizzed each other on trivia, recited poems, prayed aloud, sang songs, and described in detail their favorite meals. All of these kept them connected to the outside world and gave them a reason to stay alive. Meanwhile, the men were reported as Missing in Action to their families back in the States, who wouldn’t learn if they were still alive for another 16 months.
Part Four – In the Hands of the Enemy As bad as their existence was afloat at sea, things got much worse for Zamperini after coming ashore and being taken as a POW by the Japanese. For over two years, he managed to hold onto life, sometimes by a thread, as he witnessed and personally underwent some of the most horrendous atrocities any human being has endured. One particular Japanese officer called the Bird would single him out and make his existence a living hell and would haunt his dreams long after his return home. Yet Louis maintained the will, desire, and ability to not only stay alive, but to retain his mental sanity through it all.
Part Five – The Process of Healing Begins The memories of his time as a POW would have lasting effects long after Louie’s return home. Of course his health was affected, but the emotional scars lay much deeper. Even after being reunited with his family, regaining much of his physical health, and falling in love and marrying, Zamperini would struggle with what many war veterans deal with: anger, hatred, depression, fear, loneliness, isolation, nightmares and flashbacks.
Louis became consumed with vengeance, but in God’s providential timing, a young evangelist named Billy Graham came to Los Angeles, and Louis’ wife persuaded him to go and hear the preacher. God used Graham’s message to bring faith and repentance to Zamperini, to heal his soul and give him new life, making him a new creation. The following year, Zamperini visited his Japanese POW camp; he looked in the faces of former guards, now considered war criminals, and learned about what had become of his nemesis, the Bird. With his new heart and perspective, Louis was able to look at these men, not with fear, hatred, or disgust, but with compassion. Louis came to experience peace and forgiveness toward those he once hated, but only after finding the peace and forgiveness of God.
Unbroken is an amazing story of what horrible pain and emotional suffering one man is capable of enduring and yet, by the grace of God, eventually is able to go on to live a happy and productive life afterward. I discovered that Zamperini also wrote his own account of his experiences in "Devil at My Heels", originally published in 1956. I haven’t read this memoir, but from what the reviews indicate, in it Zamperini focuses more on the work of God in his life and his desire and efforts to serve the Lord after his conversion. It sounds like Devil at My Heels would be an excellent companion work to read.
Amazingly, Mr. Zamperini is still alive at age 97 and has been chosen as the Grand Marshall for the 2015 Rose Parade. A film based on this book is coming out in December 2014, and I am really looking forward to seeing it. But don’t wait for the movie – read the book! (less)
This is not meant to be read like a novel. It is a collection of works - history & biography, poetry, letters, etc. - by different people who enco...moreThis is not meant to be read like a novel. It is a collection of works - history & biography, poetry, letters, etc. - by different people who encountered and had a relationship with God. There's one consistent theme or message that runs through the entire work: Man is a fallen creature (Genesis ch. 3) and God is in the business of redeeming man back into a relationship with himself. The Old Testament talks about this plan, which finally becomes a reality in the New Testament when Christ comes to earth. BTW, don't just read selected portions. Make the effort to read the WHOLE thing - it's all connected. Suggestion: Try getting one of those Chronological Bibles. I make the effort to read through the Bible every year; it never gets old because each time I read it I understand it better.(less)
Not as popular as her other books, but this is a fun, romantic story with a few gothic elements thrown in. I love the friendship between Catherine and...moreNot as popular as her other books, but this is a fun, romantic story with a few gothic elements thrown in. I love the friendship between Catherine and Henry that grows into a romance.(less)
I personally found a lot of things in The Shack troubling. It is really disturbing to me when I hear of churches using this book for Sunday School and...moreI personally found a lot of things in The Shack troubling. It is really disturbing to me when I hear of churches using this book for Sunday School and Bible study lessons, when there is very little in it that I found to be biblical. I'm grateful Tim took the time to write such a full commentary on this book.(less)
This is a great book to use to introduce children to this wonderful, classic Christian allegory. We read it to our kids, and they never forgot Apollyo...moreThis is a great book to use to introduce children to this wonderful, classic Christian allegory. We read it to our kids, and they never forgot Apollyon or the Giant Despair!(less)
When I was working on my English degree, I was required to take two Shakespeare classes, and I've read almost all of his plays (well, only a few of th...moreWhen I was working on my English degree, I was required to take two Shakespeare classes, and I've read almost all of his plays (well, only a few of the history plays!). I really came to love Shakespeare; with practice, he does get easier as you get more familiar with the language, but you definitely want to use an edition that has footnotes. It would be tough for me to say which is my favorite play - I have several, and The Taming of the Shrew is definitely one of them. I enjoy the slapstick elements, the bantering dialogue between the characters, the disguises and confused identities. But mostly I love the story itself, the story of a couple who unintentionally falls in love, and how love and respect can bring out the best in anyone.
In The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare illustrates the Christian idea that internal character is more important than external character. Shakespeare was undoubtedly very familiar with the Bible; his plays often reference biblical ideas, and many of the themes can be interpreted from a Christian perspective. For example, the theme of transformation as seen in The Taming of the Shrew also appears in the Bible. In the Christian faith, an individual’s conversion occurs when Christ brings about a change within him. The inner conversion results in a change in the person’s choices, actions, and speech. The means by which this change takes place is through the hearing or reading of God’s Word. Similarly, in The Taming of the Shrew, language and words are the primary instruments Petruchio uses to teach Katherine to change her view of herself, and this internal change in turn affects her actions and her speech.
In contrast to external change, internal change is genuine and long lasting. The Bible teaches that an individual can be inwardly transformed. Paul wrote in Romans 12:2, “…be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Some may say that Petruchio was playing with Kate’s mind, but through his words and disciplinary methods he taught her to think differently about herself. At the end of the play, it seems that Kate has become a “new creature”; “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17). Kate’s new inner beauty shines forth, bringing honor both to herself and her husband.