Nel maggio del 1943, un bombardiere americano precipita nel mezzo dell'Oceano Pacifico: dell'equipaggio si salvano soltanto tre membri, uno dei quali è Louis Zamperini, figlio di immigrati italiani. Comincia così, con un minuscolo canotto alla deriva mitragliato dagli aerei giapponesi, l'incredibile storia di un eroe del Novecento: dopo aver percorso 3200 chilometri in mare, sbarcato su un'isola giapponese, per due anni passerà da un campo di prigionia all'altro, incontrando sadici aguzzini e misurandosi ogni giorno con la possibilità di essere ucciso, fino alla resa del Giappone e alla liberazione. Questa, per Zamperini, è solo l'ennesima prova di una vita avventurosa: giovanissimo delinquente di strada, aveva trovato nell'atletica leggera una via d'uscita, diventando campione di mezzofondo e partecipando con onore alle Olimpiadi di Berlino del 1936. Reclutato dall'Aviazione nel 1940, prima di precipitare nel Pacifico era sopravvissuto a durissimi combattimenti alle Hawaii. Conclusa la guerra, anche il rientro in patria non è semplice: gli incubi lo tormentano, portandolo a rifugiarsi nell'alcol. È il matrimonio con una ragazza di buona famiglia, bella e intelligente, insieme alla riscoperta della fede, a riportarlo alla vita. L'incredibile storia di Louis Zamperini viene raccontata da Laura Hillenbrand come un romanzo epico, un viaggio nelle possibilità estreme, fisiche e spirituali, dell'essere umano.
From the 1936 Olympics to WWII Japan's most brutal POW camps, Hillenbrand's heart-wrenching new book is thousands of miles and a world away from the racing circuit of her bestselling Seabiscuit. But it's just as much a page-turner, and its hero, Louie Zamperini, is just as loveable: a disciplined champion racer who ran in the Berlin Olympics, he's a wit, a prankster, and a reformed juvenile delinquent who put his thieving skills to good use in the POW camps, In other words, Louie is a total charmer, a lover of life whose will to live is cruelly tested when he becomes an Army Air Corps bombardier in 1941. The young Italian-American from Torrance, Calif., was expected to be the first to run a four-minute mile. After an astonishing but losing race at the 1936 Olympics, Louie was hoping for gold in the 1940 games. But war ended those dreams forever. In May 1943 his B-24 crashed into the Pacific. After a record-breaking 47 days adrift on a shark-encircled life raft with his pal and pilot, Russell Allen "Phil" Phillips, they were captured by the Japanese. In the "theater of cruelty" that was the Japanese POW camp network, Louie landed in the cruelest theaters of all: Omori and Naoetsu, under the control of Corp. Mutsuhiro Watanabe, a pathologically brutal sadist (called the Bird by camp inmates) who never killed his victims outright his pleasure came from their slow, unending torment. After one beating, as Watanabe left Louie's cell, Louie saw on his face a "soft languor.... It was an expression of sexual rapture." And Louie, with his defiant and unbreakable spirit, was Watanabe's victim of choice. By war's end, Louie was near death. When Naoetsu was liberated in mid-August 1945, a depleted Louie's only thought was "I'm free! I'm free! I'm free!" But as Hillenbrand shows, Louie was not yet free. Even as, returning stateside, he impulsively married the beautiful Cynthia Applewhite and tried to build a life, Louie remained in the Bird's clutches, haunted in his dreams, drinking to forget, and obsessed with vengeance. In one of several sections where Hillenbrand steps back for a larger view, she writes movingly of the thousands of postwar Pacific PTSD sufferers. With no help for their as yet unrecognized illness, Hillenbrand says, "there was no one right way to peace; each man had to find his own path...." The book's final section is the story of how, with Cynthia's help, Louie found his path. It is impossible to condense the rich, granular detail of Hillenbrand's narrative of the atrocities committed (one man was exhibited naked in a Tokyo zoo for the Japanese to "gawk at his filthy, sore-encrusted body") against American POWs in Japan, and the courage of Louie and his fellow POWs, who made attempts on Watanabe's life, committed sabotage, and risked their own lives to save others. Hillenbrand's triumph is that in telling Louie's story (he's now in his 90s), she tells the stories of thousands whose suffering has been mostly forgotten. She restores to our collective memory this tale of heroism, cruelty, life, death, joy, suffering, remorselessness, and redemption. -Reviewed by Sarah F. Gold
Customer ReviewsSee All
I saw the movie this weekend.. It was so sad. But it was amazing! The inspiration was large. Even though I can't read this book, it was a great movie.
Where is the a English version? Why isn't the English version in the list of offerings? So bummed this is in Italian! Unsatisfied even if it is my fault that I missed that hidden detail!! Cover in English...misleading at best.
I did not realize this was not English version! Spent $10.99 on a book I can't read!