Wednesday, December 8, 2010

LOUIS ZAMPERINI

Yesterday was Pearl Harbor day and the book I am currently reading fit right in. I am almost through “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand who also wrote the best seller, “Seabiscuit”. I am not usually an non-fiction reader mainly due to the narrative form most often used. My reading is normally meant for entertainment not information.

War books are rarely on my book shelf for I just don't understand the whole concept. However,this one is the second war book in a matter of weeks including “Fall of Giants”. I do hope this is not a trend in my reading materials.



I probably wouldn't have gotten this book had I not been curious about the main character. Louie Zamperini is the hero and since the book was zooming up the best seller list, I researched him. The information I found on him made me I feel I had to know the whole story of this truly amazing man.

Louie was a real wild child who would drive any parent gray. He was ALWAYS in trouble. Fortunately in high school he focused his abundance of energy when he found the sport of track and field. There he discovered he had a real talent as a runner and became an amazing athlete who set many records. Even as a teen, he was closing in on the 4 minute mile record. He participated in the 1936 Olympics at the tender age of 19 and almost metaled. He actually met Hitler.

Louie joined the Air Force when war became inevitable. He was a bombardier in a B 24 bomber which I guess was an absolute challenge of a plane to keep in the air. I was appalled to learn how many thousands of our men died on American soil while in training and how many planes just disappeared into the sea without the help of any enemy.

Louie's lumbering plane literally fell out of the sky on its own merit and a small bit of human error. It went down in the Pacific and for 47 days he and two of his surviving crew drifted in a small raft, fighting sharks, hunger, heat and thirst, while clinging to their sanity. They were rescued by the Japanese and became prisoners of war. Louie is brutally treated and survives what no one should ever have to survive.

At least 20 times during this book, I would have said, “Ok I give up,please just let me die.” He does survive however and what totally amazed me, he is able to forgive and embrace the very men who were his captors when he meets them in later years.

I so admire those who can truly forgive and that is the greatest message from this book. If countries could only forgive their neighbors for slights that occurred centuries ago, perhaps we wouldn't need a lot of the wars we have. Of course we would still have to breed greed and thirst for power out of mankind to stop the rest of them.

Louie is alive today and had a long career as in inspirational speaker. Thanks to this book, I now have a better understanding of what our veterans go through. Our wars today and while the ways they are fought are somewhat different, the killing is the same. We still paint the deaths of innocent civilians with the sanitized term “collateral damage.” Our vets who return damaged, are too often given a wide berth and can end up sleeping in cardboard boxes as we turn a blind eye.

I have always thought wars are barbaric and stupid. But then, I am a woman, not a warrior, so my mind never goes to violence as a means to solve conflict. I just didn't realize how mind bogglingly frightening and senseless wars are to the men who must fight them. How we were attacked by the Japanese and how we in turn attacked the Japanese, is an absolute horror story. Mankind is such a cruel beast.

That the majority of the veterans can assimilate back into everyday living is a pure miracle. Those who can't need all the help and understanding we can manage. Let us do better----please.

31 comments :

  1. What a fantastic post, Patti. Neither do I understand war or the great need for power that so many men have. I'm going to keep my eye out for the book. The author seems to be as interesting as the books she writes.

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  2. Fantastic is right, and I agree with every word!

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  3. I am always loathe to pick up a book about war and this one sounds pretty rough. However, if such reading gets more and more people to really stop and think--just the way you have here--I'm all for it.

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  4. What a great post. I will have to check to see if our library has it. I'm sure Abe would like reading it and it sounds like one I would like to read also. Forgiving is hard to do, because like my Mother says to forgive, you also have to forget. And that's the hard part, forgetting what happened to begin with. Mom said there are times when she gets to thinking about how Dad treated her, and even though she thought she had forgiven him (he's been dead for about 7 yrs.) she gets all angry again. I told her that's human nature.

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  5. I just checked out our library, it will be coming from another library and I am number 38 on the waiting list.

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  6. Sounds like a great book. My father landed in Normandie, D-day +3. He fought behind enemy lines in the Battle of the Bulge. He was very quiet about his experiences, but he raised four children who believed that there are much more sane and humane ways to handle disputes. Sadly, the war-mongers always prevail.

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  7. Wars don't ever seem to be "won" do they???

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  8. I love to read about books and how they affect people. I might just stop by and pick this up.

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  9. Patti,
    I am with you, I do not understand violence or the mentality or need for others to resort to violence. It actually makes my heart hurt and just seems so unnecessary from ALL points of view.

    Perhaps if we eliminate violence, the world would be a gentler place? of course it would but is it too much to hope for?

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  10. Wow, makes me want to read the book and I am not a non-fiction reader either. I like to entertained.

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  11. great posting. I will have to put this on my 2011, to read list, for sure. Thanks, The Olde Bagg, Linda

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  12. I read the review on Hillebrand in the Washington Post a week or two ago. You can probably find it in the archives. Remarkable woman to say the least. Glad you are enjoying the book.

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  13. I admire people who can forgive, too, although I'm not convinced it is possible.

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  14. marciamayo,
    Thanks marcia. I am impressed with her as an author and her subject matter.

    kenju,
    Thanks Judy, too bad we can't change things.

    Olga,
    Sometimes we need to see ugly to know we don't want it. This book shows us ugly but it is also about redemption.

    Patty,
    How awful to be # 38. Too bad I only have it on Kindle or I would send it to you. Only bad thing about Kindles--you can't share.
    Might make a good Christmas present for Abe.
    I believe when you completely forgive, what you remember changes.

    robin,
    Most of the men I have know who have fought in wars, do not talk about it. I am sure your Dad saw things he couldn't talk about.

    turquoisemoon,
    Well said, even if a country "wins"? the people have lost bitterly.

    lakeviewer,
    It really has a powerful message attached to it. Hope you find a copy.

    Tracy,
    I do believe if they let all women run the countries, there might be an end to wars and violence. We sure couldn't do any worse.

    Iowa Garden Lady,
    It has been a good read so far. She does a really good job.

    Linda in NM
    Think you will like it. It is far more than a war story.

    schmidleysscribblins,
    She must be quite a writer to have put out two such diverse yet page turning books. I'll look for that article.

    betty,
    I recently let go of something that had eaten at me for 50 years. Forgiving is possible, at least for me and it is so amazingly freeing.

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  15. Fabulous post, Patti... To forgive is one of the best yet one of the hardest things we humans can do. Some people cannot let things go --and move on... I dealt with this issue alot through the years when dealing with families and pain/hurt...

    About war, YES---we all yearn for peace. But--with humans, and with certain religions which encourage fighting/killing--peace doesn't seem to be anything which can or will happen in our lifetime. I am thankful for those Americans who have fought and died for our freedom. God Bless all of them.

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  16. I so agree with you Patti....Wars are almost unthinkably cruel and totally barbaric! This book sounds like an important document besides being a very good "read"...Thanks for the heads-up...I appreciate it very very much. I had read a little about this book but now feel it is a must-read....!

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  17. Forgiveness is what? Divine? I did know a lot of men from WW2 who could never forgive. Who knows why some do and some don't.
    I'm now reading "Out of Captivity." It's about 3 Americans who were held hostage for 6 years in Colombia by the FROC. OMG what they endure. Constantly walking through the jungle wearing heavy chains. I'm not done with the book yet, so I don't know if they forgive. :) I'll let you know...
    Good timely post, Patti.

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  18. Patti this is such a wonderful post. So glad you did a review on this book because now I have to read it. Otherwise I would not have. I am like you I don't lean in that direction because I hate wars.
    I did just finish Fall of Giants and of course waiting for the second one to be written.
    Had to check on you today and say hello
    Love
    Maggie

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  19. What an interesting and beautifully written post my friend.

    It truly makes one wonder if we shall ever have peace through war doesn't it?

    God bless ya and have a splendid day sweetie!!!

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  20. What an amazing person Louis was, as I am sure so many of our veterans are; they are sent to war and forgotten when they come back enduring endless horror we can only imagine, thanks for reminding us of that.

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  21. Betsy,
    It took me 50 years to learn to forgive and how I wish I had learned earlier. No it is not easy but maybe should be taught. It is in our bible, we just skip over it.

    OOLOH,
    It really is three books in one. A sports book, a war book and a book of redemption. Well worth the time. The author has quite a story of her own.

    Manzanita,
    I didn't know too many WW II vets but did meet many Korean war and Nam vets. Few would ever talk about it.Once I have healed from this book, I will look up Out of Captivity.

    Grandmayellowyair,
    FoG was wonderful if frustrating to see how self serving world leaders can be. I really like the spirit of forgiviness and redemption in this one. Enjoy.

    Nezzy,
    I guess "peace through war" is perfect example of an oxymoron. Somehow I doubt we will ever learn.
    Thanks and a great day back at ya.

    Linda Starr,
    I don't think any of us can imagine just what they have gone through. We are a fortunate country that has never had a foriegn army stomping through our streets. 911 gave us a taste of what most countries all ready know about first hand.

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  22. Even as a wife of a veteran who never saw actual combat can describe nor understand war.

    But I see the ravages of war every trip to a VA clinic or hospital, It is not just the physical evidence of lost limbs or other defacement of other parts of the body that get to me; It is the blank stares, the deranged speech, the demented mind.

    I have never understood how we create killing machines and expect them to return normal peace loving individuals.

    Only recently have I learned my husband many years ago was diagnosed with a light case of PTSS . He was ashamed to tell me. His doctor did. Now I try to understand his somewhat withdrawal from life.

    When I see the vast number smoking cigarettes outsidethe VA Hosp. I am less condemning. It may be no less lethal than what they have been through, nor the drugs they will be given. I am not resolved not to judge.

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  23. Patti,
    Not that it makes a tidbit of difference, Those initials were wrong. It's Farc not Froc. Farc sounds like a bad word and Froc sounds like a British summer dress. But they are a terrorist & Marxist rebel organization in Colombia. There are 3 books out by different people who were held hostage during the same period and knew each other when they ended up in the same camps. I'm on my second book and want to read all three to see how they compare the horrible ordeals. I'll look into your book too. I don't read a lot of fiction and these books are more my style of read.
    Adios mi amiga

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  24. Nitwit,
    I am so sorry your husband suffered and hope he has received relief.
    One thing the book brought home was how the former POW's struggled to fit back into society, many fell to alcoholism or suicide.
    We fit them with prosthceces but don't do enough to heal their minds.

    manzanita,
    It is so hard to understand what it must be like to lose ALL of our freedoms. We are a lucky if spoiled people.

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  25. what a great review and insight. i am not much for war books, but you make this one sound interesting, for sure! :)

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  26. I just came to visit your blog and enjoyed my visit. That book sounds interesting and I’ll put it on my list. My father was badly injured in WW2 and permanently handicapped. Only now after reading about it I realize that he must have had what they call post traumatic stress disorder. That would explain how he acted and I am sorry we did not know about this at the time. When one has been in a war, even as a child, it is difficult to forget it or to understand it.

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  27. I do like "survival stories" which this sounds like more than a "war" book which apparently just men like (ok I'm being a little facetious after looking at all the comments. I did enjoy Seabiscuit, the book and the movie, and recently read that the author has some awful kind of syndrome whose name I can't remember but the fact that she write so well at all is a miracle. I do intend to get this book based on your recommendation. I also enjoyed Fall of Giants by Follet one of my favorite novelists.

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  28. Mariel,
    Thank you so much for stopping by. Love seeing new visitors.
    This book also has a great story about forgiviness and redemption but the POW part is rough as is his trying to fit into society when he was finally released. It does have a happy ending.

    Vagabonde,
    So happy you enjoyed you visit.Thanks for stopping by. Always love to meet new people.
    How sad for the WW II vets like your dad. So little was understood about PTSD then. Men like your father just did not get understanding nor help. Hopefully we are doing a little better.

    troutbirder,
    She suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and is for the most part bedridden. That she has been able to write two such wonderful books is a testiment to the human spirit.
    Hope you like the book. Follet is also one of my very favorites.

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  29. I've just put the book on my reading list. Thank you -- and a marvelous post.

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  30. WW11 has been on my mind as I have recently created a scrapbook LO of mums fiance who died 1940.
    War is futile ...no one really wins ...just one side has fewer dead, hangs on longer and gains more land ... if they are lucky. The terrible thing is that few that live are honoured or treated with repect, after the event. Those that push for conflict usually are those that are safely hidden in ivory towers. Religion seems to be often a catalyst for war when it should be for peace ...when will the world learn that war is rarely for good ....maybe when there is no world left.
    Sorry got serious then.xx

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  31. Jerry,
    Thanks, I don't think you will be disappointed. It is the only book I have seen on Amazon with 100% 5 star ratings.

    Angie,
    Your mother definitely has first hand knowledge of the hardships of war, not just on the men who sacrifice their lives, but on all those who loved them.

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