Monday, July 4, 2011

If You Liked Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, You Might Like...

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and RedemptionIf you liked Laura Hillenbrand's bestseller, Unbroken, you might like one of these other tales of courage. In case you haven't read it, here is the synopsis:
On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails.  As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.  But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.  Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion.  His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit.  Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.
Devil At My Heels by Louis Zamperini

Devil at My Heels: A Heroic Olympian's Astonishing Story of Survival as a Japanese POW in World War II Zamperini's original biography was published in 1957, this updated version includes his participation in the 1998 Winter Olympic Games ceremony in Japan. 
A juvenile delinquent, a world class NCAA miler, a 1936 Olympian, a WWII bombardier: Louis Zamperini had a fuller than most, when it changed in an instant. On May 27, 1943, his B–24 crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Louis and two other survivors found a raft amid the flaming wreckage and waited for rescue. Instead, they drifted two thousand miles for forty–seven days. Their only food: two shark livers and three raw albatross. Their only water: sporadic rainfall. Their only companions: hope and faith–and the ever–present sharks. On the forty–seventh day, mere skeletons close to death, Zamperini and pilot Russell Phillips spotted land–and were captured by the Japanese. Thus began more than two years of torture and humiliation as a prisoner of war.
Zamperini was threatened with beheading, subject to medical experiments, routinely beaten, hidden in a secret interrogation facility, starved and forced into slave labour, and was the constant victim of a brutal prison guard nicknamed the Bird–a man so vicious that the other guards feared him and called him a psychopath. Meanwhile, the Army Air Corps declared Zamperini dead and President Roosevelt sends official condolences to his family, who never gave up hope that he was alive.
Somehow, Zamperini survived and he returned home a hero. The celebration was short–lived. He plunged into drinking and brawling and the depths of rage and despair. Nightly, the Bird's face leered at him in his dreams. It would take years, but with the love of his wife and the power of faith, he was able to stop the nightmares and the drinking.
A stirring memoir from one of the greatest of the "Greatest Generation," DEVIL AT MY HEELS is a living document about the brutality of war, the tenacity of the human spirit, and the power of forgiveness.

 Conduct Under Fire: four American doctors and their fight for life as prisoners of the Japanese 1941-1945 by John A. Glusman

Conduct Under Fire: Four American Doctors and Their Fight for Life as Prisoners of the Japanese, 1941-1945A gripping chronicle of courage in captivity, of sacrifice and survival, Conduct Under Fire recounts the fierce, bloody battles of Bataan and Corregidor through the eyes of the author’s father and three fellow navy doctors taken prisoner by the Japanese in 1942. During their three and a half years of imprisonment, the doctors struggled daily against disease and starvation, fighting for their own lives as well as the lives of their fellow prisoners. Based on extensive interviews with American, British, Australian, and Japanese veterans, as well as diaries, letters, and war crimes testimony, Conduct Under Fire is an unforgettable account of bravery and ingenuity, one that reveals the long shadow the war cast on the lives of those who fought it.
Escape From Davao: the forgotten story of the most daring prison break of the Pacific War by John D. Lukacs
Escape From Davao: The Forgotten Story of the Most Daring Prison Break of the Pacific WarOn April 4, 1943, ten American prisoners of war and two Filipino convicts executed a daring escape from one of Japan's most notorious prison camps. The prisoners were survivors of the infamous Bataan Death March and the Fall of Corregidor, and the prison from which they escaped was surrounded by an impenetrable swamp and reputedly escape-proof. Theirs was the only successful group escape from a Japanese POW camp during the Pacific war. Escape from Davao is the story of one of the most remarkable incidents in the Second World War and of what happened when the Americans returned home to tell the world what they had witnessed.

Davao Penal Colony, on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, was a prison plantation where thousands of American POWs toiled alongside Filipino criminals and suffered from tropical diseases and malnutrition, as well as the cruelty of their captors. The American servicemen were rotting in a hellhole from which escape was considered impossible, but ten of them, realizing that inaction meant certain death, planned to escape. Their bold plan succeeded with the help of Filipino allies, both patriots and the guerrillas who fought the Japanese sent to recapture them. Their trek to freedom repeatedly put the Americans in jeopardy, yet they eventually succeeded in returning home to the United States to fulfill their self-appointed mission: to tell Americans about Japanese atrocities and to rally the country to the plight of their comrades still in captivity. But the government and the military had a different timetable for the liberation of the Philippines and ordered the men to remain silent. Their testimony, when it finally emerged, galvanized the nation behind the Pacific war effort and made the men celebrities.
Over the decades this remarkable story, called the "greatest story of the war in the Pacific" by the War Department in 1944, has faded away. Because of wartime censorship, the full story has never been told until now. John D. Lukacs spent years researching this heroic event, interviewing survivors, reading their letters, searching archival documents, and traveling to the decaying prison camp and its surroundings. His dramatic, gripping account of the escape brings this remarkable tale back to life, where a new generation can admire the resourcefulness and patriotism of the men who fought the Pacific war.
Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder

Strength in What Remains: A Journey of Remembrance and ForgivingIn Strength in What Remains, Tracy Kidder gives us the story of one man’s inspiring American journey and of the ordinary people who helped him, providing brilliant testament to the power of second chances. Deo arrives in the United States from Burundi in search of a new life. Having survived a civil war and genocide, he lands at JFK airport with two hundred dollars, no English, and no contacts. He ekes out a precarious existence delivering groceries, living in Central Park, and learning English by reading dictionaries in bookstores. Then Deo begins to meet the strangers who will change his life, pointing him eventually in the direction of Columbia University, medical school, and a life devoted to healing. Kidder breaks new ground in telling this unforgettable story as he travels with Deo back over a turbulent life and shows us what it means to be fully human.
Born to Run: a hidden tribe, superathletes, and the greatest race the world has never seen by Christopher McDougall
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (Vintage)Isolated by Mexico's deadly Copper Canyons, the blissful Tarahumara Indians have honed the ability to run hundreds of miles without rest or injury. In a riveting narrative, award-winning journalist and often-injured runner Christopher McDougall sets out to discover their secrets. In the process, he takes his readers from science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultra-runners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and, finally, to a climactic race in the Copper Canyons that pits America’s best ultra-runners against the tribe. McDougall’s incredible story will not only engage your mind but inspire your body when you realize that you, indeed all of us, were born to run.
The Rescue: a true story of courage and survival in World War II by Steven Trent Smith

The Rescue: A True Story of Courage and Survival in World War IIBy 1944, forty Americans–missionaries, escaped POWs, and sugar planters–had endured nearly three years of hell while hiding from the Japanese in the mountains of the central Philippines. They had moved frequently from one primitive hideout to the next, always in danger, subsisting on what little the locals could spare. They had seen friends and family captured, even murdered. And their faith in God, their country, and themselves had been stretched to the breaking point.
Then word came that MacArthur was sending a submarine, the Crevalle, to save them. The refugees confronted what they hoped would be their final trial: a hundred-mile trek south to meet the sub, a trek that would take them through dense jungle and trackless swamps with the Japanese an ever-present threat and the knowledge that one false step could result in tragedy.
But the refugees had no idea their dramatic rescue was just a cover for a mission of great strategic importance.
As MacArthur and Nimitz pushed the Japanese back, island by island, they put to flight Admiral Koga Mineichi, Yamamotos successor and the commander of Japans powerful Combined Fleet. Koga carried with him the detailed plans for the imperial navys long-planned "decisive battle" at sea. But his plane crashed and the plans washed up on a Philippine beach. Thanks to the courage of two fishermen, the secret papers soon found their way to an extraordinary American guerrilla leader, who then risked everything to get them to the rendezvous with the Crevalle.
But would the Crevalle reach the plans and the refugees before the Japanese caught wind of the scheme? The Crevalle and her heroic crew would first have to sail through enemy-infested waters to reach the island. And even if they made it, would the sub successfully pick up its precious cargo, then survive the 1,500-mile journey to Australia and freedom?
A cross between the bestselling Blind Mans Bluff and the award-winning We Band of Angels, Steven Trent Smiths The Rescue is an unforgettable account of this daring mission, a relentless personal drama, and a masterpiece of military history.
 Happy reading,


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