Devil at My Heels: A World War II Hero's Epic Saga of Torment, Survival, and Forgiveness

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HarperCollins, Jan 21, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 304 pages
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The bestselling autobiography of the legendary Louis Zamperini, hero of the blockbuster Unbroken.

A modern classic by an American legend, Devil at My Heels is the riveting and deeply personal memoir by U.S. Olympian, World War II bombardier, and POW survivor Louis Zamperini. His inspiring story of courage, resilience, and faith has captivated readers and audiences of Unbroken, now a major motion picture directed by Angelina Jolie. In Devil at My Heels, his official autobiography (co-written with longtime collaborator David Rensin), Zamperini shares his own first-hand account of extraordinary journey—hailed as “one of the most incredible American lives of the past century” (People).

A youthful troublemaker, a world-class NCAA miler, a 1936 Olympian, a WWII bombardier: Louis Zamperini had a fuller life than most. But on May 27, 1943, it all changed in an instant when his B-24 crashed into the Pacific Ocean, leaving Louis and two other survivors drifting on a raft for forty-seven days and two thousand miles, waiting in vain to be rescued. And the worst was yet to come when they finally reached land, only to be captured by the Japanese. Louis spent the next two years as a prisoner of war—tortured and humiliated, routinely beaten, starved and forced into slave labor—while the Army Air Corps declared him dead and sent official condolences to his family. On his return home, memories of the war haunted him nearly destroyed his marriage until a spiritual rebirth transformed him and led him to dedicate the rest of his long and happy life to helping at-risk youth. 

Told in Zamperini’s own voice, Devil at My Heels is an unforgettable memoir from one of the greatest of the “Greatest Generation,” a living document about the brutality of war, the tenacity of the human spirit, and the power of faith.

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About the author (2003)

A son of Italian immigrants, Louis Zamperini (1917-2014) was a U.S. Olympic runner, World War II bombardier, and POW survivor. After the war, he returned to the United States to found the Victory Boys Camp for at-risk youth and became an inspirational speaker. Zamperini's story was told in his 2003 autobiography Devil at My Heels, as well as in Laura Hillenbrand's 2010 biography Unbroken.

David Rensin worked closely with Louis Zamperini for many years and cowrote Devil at My Heels, as well as fifteen other books, including five New York Times bestsellers.

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