Last week, my cousin Gary, who is visiting from Southern California, ran into Louis Zamperini at the doctor’s office. Zamperini, a runner, was expected to beat the four-minute mile in the 1936 Olympics. Realize he is in his nineties. He didn’t win the race but he stole a Nazi Flag from Hitler and ran with it.
Later, he became a World War II hero, imprisoned, tortured. His escape was 47 days adrift on a raft without food and catching only rainwater and a few fish. Not that he was celebrated for his heroics but Laura Hellenbrand, the woman who wrote Sea Biscuit heard about him while researching Sea Bisquit and wrote the book Unbroken.
Gary, got an autographed copy of the book from the tireless Zamperini who currently occupies himself by taking kids involved in gangs and on the fringe of entering a criminal career, into the mountains on long tough hikes. Zamperini told him the kids open up and talk to him after they reach their goal. “They tell me more than they tell a psychiatrist for the state in two years of treatment,” Zamperini told him.
I loved Sea Biscuit, so naturally I had to look at Laura Hellenbrand’s website. I didn’t find it but I did find a story about the author, an invalid, who is as interesting as her subjects. She has never met Zamperini. The book has been on the NY Times bestseller list for a year. Of course, I’ve got to read it.
Take a peek: http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2010-11-10-hillenbrand10_CV_N.htm