Monday, December 13, 2010

by Laura Hillenbrand

He never could sit still; his energy level knew no bounds. At the age of two (sick with pneumonia), he climbed out of his bedroom window and ran down the street chased by a policeman. Later, on a train, he jumped out of the moving caboose. He was a true juvenile delinquent constantly getting into trouble with daring feats and a clever mind. Eventually his defiance and energy would be channeled into running and he began training in high school. Soon he was shattering records and his next goal was the Berlin Olympics. But then, the war came and Louis Zamperini (known as Louie) enlisted and joined the Army Air Corps (ironically, as a child, he had gone up in a plane and it scared him so much that he never wanted to have anything to do with them) learning how to be a bombardier.
In May of 1943, Louie was in a B-24 bomber looking for a lost plane. He and the rest of the crew were flying in the Green Hornet which had seen better days and should never have gone back up in the air. The engines failed and the plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean. For forty-seven days, Louie and two other men drifted on a tiny raft dealing with thirst, starvation, and leaping sharks. When they finally spotted an island, they were overjoyed. It was short-lived.
Oh, my God, what a book! Seven years of research has produced quite a masterpiece. Author Laura Hillenbrand (her previous bestseller was Seabiscuit) can write a story of a forgotten hero that leaves you gasping, amazed, horrified, and inspired. It's absolutely riveting and truly a stupendous read.
Very highly recommended.