The story of Louis Zamperini told in the book Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (author of Sea Biscuit) is so amazing it’s hardly believable. But, it’s true. Time Magazine awarded Unbroken it’s book of the year award for 2010. It’s not only a great story, it’s extremely well written. For those with eyes to read, it’s got Christian themes running all through it.
Here are a few:
- The originality of every human life. Louis Zamperini had a quite ordinary birth and growing up experience. Just a part of what makes his story so remarkable is how ordinary his roots are. I just love reading how God works in the lives of everyday people. God works in everyone’s lives, and does so differently.
- Endurance. Everything about Zamperini’s life is about endurance. He is an Olympic distance runner. He survives 47 days stranded on a raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. He endures 2 1/2 years of brutally harsh treatment as a POW in Japanese prison camps. He then struggles to make his life work through alcoholism and the residue left by his experience. Still alive today and nearly 100 years old, Louis Zamperini inspires anyone who reads his story to hang in there…not to give up.
- Forgiveness. After his conversion, Zamperini learns to forgive his tormenter as a POW: Matsuhiro Watanabe, aka, “The Bird.” In a letter to his former captor, he wrote, “The post-war nightmares caused my life to crumble, but thanks to a confrontation with God through the evangelist Billy Graham, I committed my life to Christ. Love replaced the hate I had for you. Christ said, “Forgive your enemies and pray for them.'” You have to read Unbroken to know what a huge deal such forgiveness is. All I can say is, Wow.
- The Power of Redemption. Zamperini’s life was spiralling downward rapidly. In his nightmares, he would choke “The Bird” to death. One night, he’s dreaming of choking “The Bird” when he hears a noise that wakes him. It is the gasp of his pregnant wife, who Zamperini was choking unknowingly in his sleep. Through his torment and alcoholism, Zamperini comes to Christ at a Billy Graham crusade and the nightmares stop. He pours out all his alcohol on the spot, and his life does a dramatic 180.
If you don’t have time to read Unbroken (shame on you!), below is a 5-minute biography of Zamperini. But trust me, read the book. It’s awesome in every way. Heavy, but awesome.