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September 2012 Madison Book Club

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.

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  • A former member
    A former member

    Great meetup; leader had excellent conversation starters and everyone participated.

    September 27, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great discussion and varying points of view from everyone - even a more "spread" as to the liking of this book.

    September 27, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    I've only just begun the book (I consider procrastination a true art form), but if I remember correctly, this story was the subject of an episode of Shark Week last month. If anyone is interested, it should be easy to find and it was interesting to watch (and the scene from the prelude with the fighter planes is well-imagined in the episode!). Looking forward to discussing this book tomorrow evening.

    September 25, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Almost finished and I have found it so hard to put down. I have felt happy, sad, angry and shocked by this book so far. All the personal narratives that make up this book are true testements to the best and the worst of humanty.

    September 24, 2012

    • A former member
      A former member

      Hi Vern - I am feeling the same way about this book. I am astonished by the inhumanity of POW treatment.

      September 24, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    I read this book about two years ago, and found it hard to put down. I can't imagine the ordeals of Zamperini in the aftermath of the crash and in the prison camps.

    August 15, 2012

  • Judy

    Just finished this a few weeks ago. Extraordinary!!!

    June 27, 2012

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