BOOK REVIEWS FROM A CURIOUS MIND: I read a lot. Books and the data/stories contained within them are my oldest friends. My wife suggested in her wisdom that I should write up short summaries/observations on the books I've been reading, since people might be interested, so I did. 5+ years running. Comments are welcome.
Mr. Louis Zamperini's life is a testament to the resiliency of Man in the face of the horrors around us
A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption – Laura
While at dinner a few months ago
with my wife and several other people from her work, the subject of books came
up and I was asked what I had been reading.
I mentioned the book Beasts, Men, & Gods, by Ferdinand Ossendowski,
and described its true-life tale of horror and hardship at the start of the
Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. One of
our dinner companions mentioned to me that I should read the book Unbroken,
by Laura Hillenbrand, which similarly dealt with one man’s experiences during
war, this time World War II. I made a
note of it and proceeded to check out the book from the library I work for.
Unbroken is the biography of
Louis Zamperini. It details his
childhood as a son of Italians living in Torrance, CA, his rise to Track &
Field stardom and success at the Olympic games, his entry into the military,
the crash at sea of the B-24 bomber of which he was bombardier, his 40+ days
spent along with two companions drifting at sea, his capture by Japanese
forces, his two and half years spent in various POW camps, his release and
return to civilian life, the tortures he endured as a result of his hardships,
and his eventual redemption and joyful life, lasting all of 97 years. That is a lot to digest, and it is even more
amazing to read every detail.
It is said that each of us leads multiple lives in a single lifetime.
I had read many accounts of wartime,
and of prisoners of war, but the endless pain, abuse, and degradation suffered by
Allied POW’s under the hands of the Japanese army are innumerable, and nearly
overwhelming. I broke down several times
reading this book, each time feeling ever so grateful to have been spared
experiences such as the ones Mr. Zamperini and every single person having to
try and live through war and it’s horrors has to endure. To know that right now, around the world,
there are countless hundreds of thousands of human beings suffering these very
same terrors is almost too much to bear.
To know that for the past decade the USA has been using torture on
prisoners from the “war on terrorism” not far removed from the inhuman derangement forced upon Mr. Zamperini, and excusing it for the sake of “national security” makes
me fucking SICK.
I have close relatives who endured
similar things during the Vietnam War.
No one who experiences war firsthand, whether as a combatant or as a
civilian forced to survive amid battles and killing and occupation forces,
comes out unscathed. Mass trauma
distorts humanity. It makes those
suffering it feel less than human, losing all dignity in the process. I wish people would read and absorb stories
like these before choosing to send our youngest and fittest out to wage
war. I cannot help but feel that if they
did, they would not be so quick to treat military actions and deaths as if they
were just business as usual. I wish
regular civilians would all read this book.
It may make them stop ignoring the actions of their leaders, since it is
more convenient to think about something else, to be distracted by the
day-to-day concerns of living, than to face the trauma being created in their
name. I highly recommend this book, and
give thanks to the kind lady who pointed me in its direction. I will carry Mr. Zamperini's life story with me.