A celebrated war veteran and Olympic contender shares his life’s lessons.
Not simply another rehashing of Zamperini’s (Devil at My Heels: A WWII Hero’s Epic Saga of Torment, Survival, and Forgiveness, 2003) incredible history, this second memoir, dictated to co-writer Rensin during the last year of the author’s life, brims with sage wisdom, learned advice and fond observations from his adventurous 97 years. Zamperini answers the most recurring questions asked of him during book signings and lectures, mostly pertaining to his adventures after his service in World War II, his secret to living honorably and what role his faith in God played. The author weaves practical advice into anecdotes on his parents, his troubled adolescence, his post-military spiritual connection with Billy Graham, and how his affinity for distance running on an Olympic level honed enough mental discipline to endure and survive the sadistic torture of a Japanese POW camp and the PTSD that followed. The author also provides robust wilderness survival tips, which saved his life while adrift on a life raft in the Pacific Ocean and during his service as a U.S. Army Air Force bombardier. Certainly, his counsel is often platitudinous (exercise forgiveness, challenge yourself, be positive, and give back), but it’s also inspirational, and his words will offer a reflective refresher course for those receptive to it. Never boastful yet full of prideful personality, Zamperini’s tireless zest manifested in his later years with speaking engagements and collaboration with the Angelina Jolie–produced film adaptation of Lauren Hillenbrand’s best-selling book Unbroken (2010), based on his astonishing, fruitful life. Stuffed with bolstering, life-affirmative reinforcement, Zamperini’s legacy lives on through words and film, embodied best by a photograph of the nonagenarian skillfully riding a skateboard.
The inspirational odyssey of an American hero.