Once in a long long time comes an amazing story, an amazing life that practically writes itself. Louise Zamperrini’s is an extra-ordinary life. From a wild childhood to an Olympic runner to a man marooned at sea for the longest time ever to a POW in Japan subjected to unbearable cruelty to post-war ruin to a final resurgence – it is an exceptional life indeed. Like six lives lived in one. And Laura Hillenbrand does it full justice. One can only imagine the effort that must have gone into resurrecting that life on paper. The long section on Louis’ life as a POW makes for exceptionally fine reading and you wonder at the infinite capacity of human beings for cruelty. Hillenbrand combines sensitive narration and hard statistics beautifully to render a picture that is neither too clammy with sentiment nor dry facts. Alongside some of the all-time greats whose scenes have been burned in my memory (Midnight’s children, one hundred years of solitude, Roots), some of the POW scenes will stay. Clearly, one of the most engrossing non-fiction book in many years.
Recommendation: Must Read.