by Laura Hilenbrand

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Optimism is necessary to overcome obstacles.

Louie Zamperini was able to survive because of his ability to say optimistic. When one of the plane crash survivors, Mac, ate the only food they had, Louie stayed calm and forgave him. He realized that yelling at Mac wouldn't change the fact that they had no food and decided to just think about other ways to get food. Also, after the crash, Mac believed that all three of the survivors would die but Louie kept reassuring them that they would be rescued soon. Phil and Louie finally caught some fish and were inspired but Mac still wasn't convinced they would survive. Mac's negative attitude towards the situation eventually led to his death. He thought he was going to die so his body began to shut down. Louie and Phil's ability to stay positive helped keep them alive on the rafts and in he POW camps.

The army is not always as it seems.

War is a major topic in this book. This book reveals many common misconceptions about the army and how soliders are treated. Many people are led to believe that the army equips soldiers and ensures their safety. In this book, it reveals many of the faults in the system. Louie and his crew were sent on a plane that officials knew were not safe. Also, when the plane crashed, they were not nearly sufficiently equipped to survive. If it weren't for Louie, Mac, and Phil's determination and creativity, they most likely would not have survived that long. The lifeboats were not equipped with many basic essentials like food and water. This book sheds light on many of the problems with the army.

Connection to History

This book has a close connection to the concentration camps that were run by Nazis. In concentration camps, the Nazis treated Jews, and others that they viewed inferior, similar to the way the Japanese treated their POWs. Both camps treated their prisoners brutally and shed away their humanity during WWII.
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  1. Louie's character is revealed when he defies what his coach told him about never belonging in a foot race by qualifying for the Olympics.
  2. Louie is sent into the army during WWII.
  3. Louie completes successful missions in the plane "Superman" with his crew.
  4. He is sent on a mission in "The Green Hornet" and it crashes in the ocean.
  5. Louie and two others from his crew survive and live on lifeboats for months.
  6. The lifeboat drifts to Japanese occupied land and Louie is taken as a prisoner.
  7. He is sent from prison camp to prison camp and is treated horribly in inhumane conditions but never loses hope.
  8. The war ends and Louie is rescued but experiences many difficult years to come as he experiences many mental heath issues as a result of the awful treatment in the camps.
  9. Louie finds revival through religion and goes to Japan and faces some of his officers from the camps and finds forgiveness and is able to move on.

Important Quotes

"A lifetime of glory is worth a moment of pain."

-Pete Zamperini

"If I knew I had to go through these experiences again... I'd kill myself."

-Louis Zamperini

Maddie Lane and Laura Broderick