Monday, January 5, 2015

Devil at my Heels

Devil at my Heels by Louis Zamperini

Summary: When Pearl Harbor is bombed Louis, an Olympian runner, joins the air force where he becomes a bombardier. During a rescue mission his plane is shot down, leaving himself and two other survivors. Together they fight to keep alive while adrift on the ocean, only to be picked up and made POWs by the Japanese.

I read this while reading Unbroken. Where Unbroken goes into more detail and talks about the other men Louis met during his time as a POW I liked seeing the story in his own words. There were things I picked up on that were only eluded to in Unbroken. In a way you get to see his feelings more in this book and pick up on how hard some of the things he went through really were.

The hardest parts I found to read in the book were not how he was tortured and beaten while at the POW camps. Those were hard. He went through so much and was even singled out by a man known as the Bird. One thing that stayed with him for years, haunting him in his sleep even after he made it back home alive, were the times the Bird beat him with his belt. Often Louis would wake up after seeing the Bird standing over him, swinging the belt at his face. But for all the pain in those chapters the hardest I found to read were when Louis got back and married Cynthia.

I don't know how hard it must have been for him, but he talks about the times he lost his temper and yelled at her. About how he almost came close to choking her once. He loved his wife, that is easy to see in his story, but he was so traumatized by the war he didn't seem to know what he was doing at times. Each night he was haunted by nightmares and drank to try and get them to stop though it never worked.

A few years later, Cynthia goes to one of Billy Garham's meetings were she is saved. She talks Louis into going and God saves him as well. Louis then spent the rest of his life in serving God. That is why I found his story so powerful. After he became a Christian Louis returned to Japan, met up with the guards who beat him, and forgave them. Face to face. 

For Louis to have gone through everything he did at the hands of the POW guards and be able to forgive them and hold nothing against them ever is amazing and shows the work God can do in a person's life. It is for this reason he has become a hero to me. And I believe God is even now using his story. 

And, as sappy as that sounded, I think this is a book everyone should read. In many ways it has changed my life, the least being I find it impossible to complain now. 

To sum up my review, I will add that Louis tells his story in an easy to read style. It felt almost like a grandpa telling it, but a grandpa able to laugh and find humor even in dark times. If you haven't read it, do so. (I know that sounds like a bossy order, but do it anyways.)

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