Customer Reviews for

Devil at My Heels: A Heroic Olympian's Astonishing Story of Survival as a Japanese POW in World War II

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

Fantastic, inspiring and a must read

Devil at My Heels is an inspiring read and biography of the life of Louis Zamperini. It begins telling of his adolescence, how he often found himself in trouble, but found refuge in running. With his older brother Pete, he trained diligently. He doubted himself at first...
Devil at My Heels is an inspiring read and biography of the life of Louis Zamperini. It begins telling of his adolescence, how he often found himself in trouble, but found refuge in running. With his older brother Pete, he trained diligently. He doubted himself at first, but found hard work can make up for any other disability. As a result of his dedication, he became a world class NCAA athlete, and competed in the 1936 Olympics. He then entered World War II as a B-24 bombardier. During a mission, his aircraft crashed into the Pacific Ocean. The next 47 days were the beginning of the worst times of his life. He was afloat a raft and drifted over two-thousand miles. The only food available to him and a companion on the boat was two shark livers, and three raw albatross, and depended on rainfall for water. Finally, he spotted land, swam to shore where he was captured by the Japanese. At this time they were in a severe state of malnutrition, and were then forced to labor, and received incredibly brutal treatment. One guard was severely brutal with Louis. He regularly beat him harshly; this guard's nickname was the Bird. He haunted Louis' dreams for years to come. Through pure spite of the Japanese, and strength of mind, he survived and made his way home a hero. Although he was home and away from the physical torture, he was still being tormented in other ways. His dreams were a constant reminder of the prison camp, and he began his fight with alcohol and aggression. He was tearing his life and marriage apart. His life continued to spiral out of control until a friend showed a distraught Louis the Christian religion. Soon Louis immersed himself in Christ and his life picked up immediately. He turned his life around and now publicly speaks to people everywhere. A common theme throughout the entire book is faith and hope. Each of these were necessary for him to survive. He showed hope while on the raft and faith the Americans would rescue him out of the prison camp. His ultimate show of hope and faith was his fight against alcohol, and coming to Christ. I highly recommend this inspirational story. It brings the highs and lows of Louis' life straight to your life; when he feels the joy of winning a race, you become happy. While he is being tortured, your heart breaks. As he finally breaks his addiction to alcohol, delight fills your entire being. Overall, a fantastic read I highly recommend.

posted by AtJONES on March 15, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

7 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

Skip this unpolished account and read Unbroken

Zamperini's own account of his life is not nearly as good as Laura Hillenbrand's account in Unbroken. Louie's own story gets lost in his religious conversion and it seems that Zamperini wanted his new found faith to be the climax of the book. Something like 80 pages are...
Zamperini's own account of his life is not nearly as good as Laura Hillenbrand's account in Unbroken. Louie's own story gets lost in his religious conversion and it seems that Zamperini wanted his new found faith to be the climax of the book. Something like 80 pages are dedicated to his religious obsession and his athletic accomplishments and war heroics suffer as a result. Zamperini glosses over his plane crash, his time spent drifting at sea and his time spent as a POW. I never felt like I could step inside Zamperini's shoes like I could in Unbroken. Hillenbrand is able to put Zamperini's experience in better perspective by relating similar stories and using the viewpoints of others who shared Zamperini's experiences. I did not particularly like this book and I almost did not read Unbroken as a result. I'm glad that I reconsidered and read Unbroken. It puts Zamperini's story in a better perspective than this poor account.

posted by atomsplitter on April 28, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2011

    Enjoyed book, very interesting

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted July 5, 2011

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    Posted September 29, 2011

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