Somehow I was unfamiliar with Louie Zamperini and his story until my wife gave me this book as a gift. I am very grateful for that as it has been both educational and emotional. Most of the reading I have done about WWII has been around the western front in Europe but I have been expanding my horizons and this started filling in the gap in the Pacific.
I have always had a place in my heart for POWs but only had a superficial understanding of the suffering endured by them in captivity. I was aware of the brutality that the Japanese disdain created for POWs but didn’t really comprehend on an emotional level exactly what that entailed. This book did a great job of not only relating what happened in the prison camps but also how it could affect a prisoner for a long time after their release. While I was intensely interested in what occurrred in the 1940s reading about the years immediately following Louie’s return to the States is what really drove home the enormity of his burden.
I have read various stories about the folly of upper management due to their disconnectedness from the daily realities of their people but it was very depressing to see that the same thing exists within the military (no doubt continuing to this day). Reading about Louie, Phil and the rest of the crew being assigned to a SAR mission in Green Hornet made me very nervous as well as angry at the despised lieutenant.
While we generally don’t see our currently serving military suffer extended imprisonment this story still affected how I view returning combat veterans with regards to the emotional and spiritual scars they may have suffered while away from home. I wish more people saw the value in learning about the past since it really does impact the present and how we interact with the world around us today.