Devil at my Heels

I’m currently reading the spellbinding autobiography of Louis Zamperini. It reads as if it were non-fiction but this miracle of a man was alive and boy did he live! After watching Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut: Unbroken (the film wasn’t that great due to bad casting and missing tension in key scenes, however the story it was based on was extra-ordinary), I was inspired to find out more about this man. So I purchashed his version of the tale of events rather than the new book which accompanies the film.

 

jolie

A few of the key occurences in Zamperini’s life are becoming an Olympic Athlete and competing in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Although he didn’t win he showed spirit and produced a startling comeback which was his trademark as a long distance runner. It was so impressive that Hitler himself decided he wanted to personally meet him.

He also fought in the pacific where ironically on a rescue mission his plane crash landed and he and 2 others somehow survived. Stranded at sea they lived off rations, rainwater and killing birds which landed on their rafts which were cleverly used as bait to catch fish. Fending off a constant barrage of man eating sharks, wild storms, enemy planes firing above, 2 of the 3 miraculously managed to survive. In total they were stranded for 47 days and had drifted over 2000 miles only to be “rescued” by the Japanese Navy and thrown straight into prison camps in Tokyo.

 

Historical_OutfittedEquipped_Raft_v1

For the next 2 years, he was held in captivity where he would be severely beaten, tortured, starved,  and tormented in camp, particularly by one man who went by the name Mutsuhiro “Bird” Wantanabe. The Bird was classified as one of the top 40 criminals in Japan and took specific pleasure in punishing Louis, however Zamperini’s strong spirit and heart were as suggested in the film/book title “Unbroken”.

In 1945, Japan was liberated and Louis finally returned home to a heroes welcome. In the words of John McCain, this book contains the wisdom of a life well lived, by a man who sacrificed more for it than many people would dare to imagine. It is brutally honest and touchingly human, comfortably pedestrian and spiritually expansive. Louis Zamperini is the embodiment of the human spirit.

Human Spirit
Human Spirit

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