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He began drinking one night when he was eight; he hid under the dinner table, snatched glasses of wine, drank them all dry, staggered outside, and fell into a rosebush. On one day, Louise discovered that Louie had impaled his leg on a bamboo beam; on another, she had to ask a neighbor to sew Louie's severed toe back on. When Louie came home drenched in oil after scaling an oil rig, diving into a sump well, and nearly drowning, it took a gallon of turpentine and a lot of scrubbing before Anthony recognized his son again.

Thrilled by the crashing of boundaries, Louie was untamable. As he grew into his uncommonly clever mind, mere feats of daring were no longer satisfying. In Torrance, a one-boy insurgency was born. If it was edible, Louie stole it. He skulked down alleys, a roll of lock-picking wire in his pocket. Housewives who stepped from their kitchens would return to find that their suppers had disappeared.

Residents looking out their back windows might catch a glimpse of a long-legged boy dashing down the alley, a whole cake balanced on his hands. When a local family left Louie off their dinner-party guest list, he broke into their house, bribed their Great Dane with a bone, and cleaned out their icebox. At another party,he absconded with an entire keg of beer. When he discovered that the cooling tables at Meinzer's Bakery stood within an arm's length of the back door, he began picking the lock, snatching pies, eating until he was full, and reserving the rest as ammunition for ambushes.

When rival thieves took up the racket, he suspended the stealing until the culprits were caught and the bakery owners dropped their guard. Then he ordered his friends to rob Meinzer's again. It is a testament to the content of Louie's childhood that his stories about it usually ended with " To minimize the evidence found on him when the police habitually came his way, he set up loot-stashing sites around town, including a three-seater cave that he dug in a nearby forest. Under the Torrance High bleachers, Pete once found a stolen wine jug that Louie had hidden there.

It was teeming with inebriated ants. In the lobby of the Torrance theater, Louie stopped up the pay telephone's coin slots with toilet paper. He returned regularly to feedwire behind the coins stacked up inside, hook the paper, and fill his palms with change. A metal dealer never guessed that the grinning Italian kid who often came by to sell him armfuls of copper scrap had stolen the same scrap from his lot the night before.

Discovering, while scuffling with an enemy at a circus, that adults would give quarters to fighting kids to pacify them, Louie declared a truce with the enemy and they cruised around staging brawls before strangers. To get even with a railcar conductor who wouldn't stop for him, Louie greased the rails. When a teacher made him stand in a corner for spitballing, he deflated her car tires with toothpicks. After setting a legitimate Boy Scout state record in friction-fire ignition, he broke his record by soaking his tinder in gasoline and mixing it with match heads, causing a small explosion.

He stole a neighbor's coffee percolator tube, set up a sniper's nest in a tree, crammed pepper-tree berries into his mouth, spat them through the tube, and sent the neighborhood girls running. His magnum opus became legend. Late one night, Louie climbed the steeple of a Baptist church, rigged the bell with piano wire, strung the wire into a nearby tree, and roused the police, the fire department, and all of Torrance with apparently spontaneous pealing. The more credulous townsfolk called it a sign from God. Only one thing scared him.

When Louie was in late boyhood, a pilot landed a plane near Torrance and took Louie up for a flight. One might have expected such an intrepid child to be ecstatic, but the speed and altitude frightened him. From that day on, he wanted nothing to do with airplanes. In a childhood of artful dodging, Louie made more than just mischief. He shaped who he would be in manhood. Confident that he was clever, resourceful, and bold enough to escape any predicament, he was almost incapable of discouragement.

When history carried him into war, this resilient optimism would define him. Louie was twenty months younger than his brother, who was everything he was not. Pete Zamperini was handsome, popular, impeccably groomed, polite to elders and avuncular to juniors, silky smooth with girls, and blessed with such sound judgment that even when he was a child, his parents consulted him on difficult decisions.

He ushered his mother into her seat at dinner, turned in at seven, and tucked his alarm clock under his pillow so as not to wake Louie, with whom he shared a bed. He rose at two-thirty to run a three-hour paper route, and deposited all his earnings in the bank, which would swallow every penny when the Depression hit. He had a lovely singing voice and a gallant habit of carrying pins in his pant cuffs, in case his dance partner's dress strap failed.

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He once saved a girl from drowning. Pete radiated a gentle but impressive authority that led everyone he met, even adults, to be swayed by his opinion. Even Louie, who made a religion out of heeding no one, did as Pete said. Louie idolized Pete, who watched over him and their younger sisters, Sylvia and Virginia, with paternal protectiveness.

WORLD WAR II AVIATION

But Louie was eclipsed, and he never heard the end of it. Sylvia would recall her mother tearfully telling Louie how she wished he could be more like Pete. What made it more galling was that Pete's reputation was part myth. Though Pete earned grades little better than Louie's failing ones, his principal assumed that he was a straight-A student.

On the night of Torrance's church bell miracle, a well-directed flashlight would have revealed Pete's legs dangling from the tree alongside Louie's. And Louie wasn't always the only Zamperini boy who could be seen sprinting down the alley with food that had lately belonged to the neighbors. But it never occurred to anyone to suspect Pete of anything. He was a puny boy, and in his first years in Torrance, his lungs were still compromised enough from the pneumonia that in picnic footraces, every girl in town could dust him. His features, which would later settle into pleasant collaboration, were growing at different rates, giving him a curious face that seemed designed by committee.

His ears leaned sidelong off his head like holstered pistols, and above them waved a calamity of black hair that mortified him. He attacked it with his aunt Margie's hot iron, hobbled it in a silk stocking every night, and slathered it with so much olive oil that flies trailed him to school. It did no good. And then there was his ethnicity.

In Torrance in the early s, Italians were held in such disdain that when the Zamperinis arrived, the neighbors petitioned the city council to keep them out.

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Louie, who knew only a smattering of English until he was in grade school, couldn't hide his pedigree. He survived kindergarten by keeping mum, but in first grade, when he blurted out "Brutte bastarde! They compounded his misery by holding him back a grade. He was a marked boy. Bullies, drawn by his oddity and hoping to goad him into uttering Italian curses, pelted him with rocks, taunted him, punched him, and kicked him. He tried buying their mercy with his lunch, but they pummeled him anyway, leaving him bloody.

He could have ended the beatings by running away or succumbing to tears, but he refused to do either. As Louie neared his teens, he took a hard turn. Aloof and bristling, he lurked around the edges of Torrance, his only friendships forged loosely with rough boys who followed his lead. He became so germophobic that he wouldn't tolerate anyone coming near his food. Though he could be a sweet boy, he was often short-tempered and obstreperous. He feigned toughness, but was secretly tormented.

Kids passing into parties would see him lingering outside, unable to work up the courage to walk in. Killing sharks with his bare hands Laura Hillenbrand has given us a new national treasure. He enjoyed a measure of fame in his youth—both during his running career and after surviving the POW camps—but was relatively unknown in the second half of the twentieth century. How did you first learn about Louie? When did you realize there was a book in his story? Laura Hillenbrand: My first book was about the Depression-era racehorse Seabiscuit.


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  2. Men Of Air: Doomed Youth of Bomber Command's War by Kevin Wilson.
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While working on it, I pored over s newspapers. One day I was reading a clipping about the horse when I happened to turn the paper over and find a profile of a young running phenomenon named Louie Zamperini. I started reading. Louie had not yet gone to war, but his story was already so interesting that I jotted his name down in my Seabiscuit research notebook.

I was very intrigued, and when I finished writing Seabiscuit: An American Legend, I did some searching, found an address for Louie, and wrote him a letter. He wrote back, I called him, and I found myself in the most fascinating conversation of my life. He told me his story, and I was captivated. He told of having experienced almost unimaginable abuse at the hands of his captors, yet spoke without self-pity or bitterness.

In fact, he was cheerful, speaking with perfect equanimity. When he finished his story, I had one question: How can you tell of being victimized by such monstrous men, yet not express rage? His response was simple: Because I forgave them. It was this, more than anything, that hooked me. How could this man forgive the unforgivable?

What, to you, is a good subject—what do you look for? Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jul 08, Peter Goodman rated it it was amazing Shelves: history , military-history , non-fiction. The British experience. Which is not nothing. But here Wilson, over almost pages, provides a gritty, detailed, well-written account of what the aircrews experienced, starting during the Battle of Berlin in January, , through to the end of the war.

He cites dozens of stories, from his own interviews, debriefings, official accounts, loads of other books. What emerges is almost numbing in its detailI could not keep track of the individual voicesand almost, but not quite, numbing in the horror it describes.

These young men,19, 20 most of themtook off night after night knowing that they were more likely to be killed than not. They went again and again and again. Their tours were extended. Because they were flying at night, what they saw was spectacularly deadly: flying tracers, falling flares, the growing flame as a plane was hit, or exploded, or fell tens of thousands of feet to become another torch on the ground.

And they saw that a lot: missions where 30, 40, 50, 60 planes were shot down. Or crashed on takeoff or landing. Or collided with each other. How phlegmatic these young men seem, rarely railing against the terror, just going about their jobs. Very British, indeed. My main difficulty with the book is that Wilson assumes a bit too much.

From what I gather, the squadrons took off and flew individually—not in formation. I get an image of a sky full of circling planes, fighting off German night-fighters, dodging flak, and waiting for the command to actually fly over and drop their bombs. That seems far more dangerous and nerve-wracking than flying in huge formations, supporting one another with their guns, dropping the bombs simultaneously on command, and then getting the hell out. One reason the British flew at night, said Harris, is that they were not well armed: light.

They could not defend themselves as well as the Bs and 24s. But they had a huge range, and regularly carried bombs of 4, pounds, and occasionally the ton Tallboys to smash through the thick cement rooves of the submarine pens. The American bombs were rarely more than pounds.

Men Of Air: Doomed Youth of Bomber Command's War

Wilson found some surviving Luftwaffe pilots, and dug into what they did. The Germans were able to track the bomber streams with fair accuracy, and vector swarms of Mes, s, s, and Focke-Wulfes right into the stream, where they harassed and tormented and destroyed the bombers. Some pilots shot down perhaps seven in a single mission. One deadly weapon they had was Shrage Musik shaky, off-tune music : cannon mounted facing upward, so that the fighter attacked from below.

The British planes did not have ventral guns, like the American ball turret, and they could not see what was happening. Often, the first they knew about it was when their plane began to burn.

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The British higher command told the crews that these were from ground fire. Wilson spends some time with Harris, who refused to waver from his course of airborne devastation, even when it did not produce the resultant end to the war he had predicted. He fought hard to prevents his planes being used to support D-Day.

He lost that fight, and Bomber Command was very effective in helping to destroy the French rail networks and sealing off the beachhead against reinforcement and resupply. He talks about the Great Escape, the travails of survivors trying to evade the Germans, the value of the Resistance in sheltering and helping the flyers to survive and escape capture. He describes how awestruck the flyers were when they saw the immense armada that carried the invaders.

I wish there were some diagrams of the planes themselves, and some better explanation of the tactics they used. Still and all, a very informative book. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Incredible story of bravey,and absolute endurance. Holzapfel's logbook and the unit's own award medal and the unique colour plates taken by Lt. There are 16 pages of color photography and pages of text and photographs. Most of these photographs were previously unpublished. It is done on the best quality paper, hardbound with color dust jacket.

It measures approximately 11" X 9". There are numerous first hand accounts of aerial combat by many of America's first Aces of the Second World War. This memoir of his years at war provides a carrier pilot's view of the conflict in the Pacific during the final months of the war when the atomic bombs were dropped and Japan capitulated. The author used company design and production information, flight and test evaluations, along with previously unexplored Flight Manuals and Consolidated-Vultee Erection and Maintenance Manuals.

From rare microfilm of original material and insights and personal narratives of the personnel involved, Wolf has gathered information on the pre-combat testing and all the combat missions of the bomber in the Pacific - Direct shipped in U. Thus marked the beginning of his eighteen-month incarceration in Stalag 17 b, the camp made famous in the Billy Wilder film and in the televison show Hogan's Heroes. During his confinement Carano secretly kept a journal in his Red Cross blank book, filling it with meticulously penned entries and illustrations. It takes the reader deep behind the notorious wire fence surrounding the prison and into the world where men clung to their humanity through humor, faith, camaraderie, daily rituals, and even art.

Bitzer, who survived the brutal "Death March" from northern Germany to liberation in April At times the journal reads like a thriller as he records air battles and escape attempts.

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Yet in their most gripping accounts, these POWs ruminate on psychological survival. The sense of community they formed was instrumental to their endurance. Each Lancaster was equipped with the revolutionary bouncing bomb designed by the inventor Barnes Wallis, creator of the Wellington bomber.

Designed to skip over the surface of the water, the bombs rotated at rpm. They had to be dropped at a speed of miles an hour and were set to explode while sinking to the base of the dam's retaining wall. It took five attempts to breach the Moehne Dam. The first section of the book is an intimate portrait of war. To provide a context of the B war against Japan, the second half of the text details how the 73rd Bomb Wing was engaged in the war against Japan.

Bs Over Berlin is a unique compilation of vivid personal tales of the legendary 95th, told by the surviving crewmen themselves and the English villagers who knew them. With pages of thrilling text and over photographs, this volume of the sensational Eagles Over the Pacific series will stand as the definitive history of the th. This exhaustively researched and definitive account of one of America's premier Army Air Force bombardment units follows the 22nd Bomb Group from its Stateside prewar formation and training through its deployment to Northern Australia during the earliest days of WW II, through the end of the conflict on the island of Okinawa.

Initially equipped with the B Marauder, the 22nd BG pioneered the Pacific island-hopping route to Australia, then was one of the first American combat units to strike back at the Japanese in the skies over Rabaul and New Guinea. Later the 22nd partially re-equipped with the B Mitchell, before becoming a B Liberator Heavy Bombardment Unit and fighting its way across the Southwest Pacific to the doorstep of Japan.

Revenge of the Red Raiders features over pages of text and is massively illustrated by more than color and black and white photos, 4 magnificent color paintings by renowned aviation artist Jack Fellows, 48 full-color aircraft profiles, by Steve W. Ferguson and 16 detailed maps, showing all bases, the location of every mission flown, and the site of each aircraft lost.

The chronological text is supplemented by definitive appendices of leaders, casualties, every combat aircraft flown, an encyclopedic history of the unit's aircraft and markings and insignias. Compiled from wartime records of the US, Japan and Australia, supplemented by the personal experiences of hundreds of the units veterans, this book stands as a landmark in aviation history.

A gunner on a B Flying Fortress, Korkuc was lost on a bombing mission over Germany, and his family believed that his body had never been recovered. But when they learned in that Tony was actually buried at Arlington National Cemetery, his nephew Bob Korkuc set out on a seven-year quest to learn the true fate of an uncle he never knew.

Finding a Fallen Hero is a compelling story that blends a wartime drama with a primer on specialized research. In the process, he also unraveled the mystery of what occurred over the skies of Germany half a century ago. On this day, the Eighth Air Force lost air superiority to the German Luftwaffe in a continuous air battle that lasted over three hours.

Many refer to it as the greatest one-day air battle of World War II. Record numbers of German fighters swarmed over the unescorted Bs and their crews. Compelling new evidence never before published indicates that mistakes and poor leadership by several air commanders within the 1st Division caused unnecessary losses for a number of bombers and their crews. This, together with major new revelations by crew members of the th who flew the mission, shed light on why the 1st Division lost 45 out of 60 Bs that day.

Information for this book comes from the National Archives, the US Air Force Historical Research Center, overseas sources, and 53 surviving th crew members who flew this mission. George C. He lives in Augusta, Georgia - Direct shipped in U. What he experienced instead was the worst of aerial combat in all its violence and danger. He served his country bravely but returned forever changed. Based on lengthy interviews with his father and the people who served with him and years of tireless research, acclaimed aviation author Dan McCaffery has pieced together his father's career as a tail gunner in Bomber Command.

Gunner McCaffery participated in many of the best-known and most controversial actions of the war, including the raid that created the firestorm that destroyed Dresden and killed tens of thousands of civilians. Unlike many of Canada's airmen in Bomber Command, McCaffery survived his tour of duty without ever firing his guns in combat.

This book is a compelling and emotionally honest look at the horrors of war, and the story of an inexperienced Canadian teenager struggling to cope with the conflict between his beliefs and what he is being asked to do in the name of duty. Dad's War is an exceptionally written view of the air war over Europe, told from a unique perspective. The book includes a history of the development of the plane. My war experience began with ferrying our Marauder to England, which included a Sahara Desert stretch from Dakar to Marrakesh.

Less than a third of the way there we lost the right engine but flew on safely on one engine, making an emergency landing at the oasis village of Tindouf, an old French Foreign Legion base. The Marauders were involved in the tragic, low-level mission over the E-boat pens in Holland where 60 percent of the officers and airmen and all ten aircraft were lost.

This mission resulted in a reconsideration of low level operations in Europe decision: move to medium altitude. My journal entries were created after each mission and offer details target, date, crew members, their emotions, action narrative of 50 combat missions Appendix A. Considerable background on the design and construction of the Marauder is included, as well as a description of the B reconstructed by the Confederate now: Commemorative Air Force. The book ends with a description of each of the crew members and their activity since the war if available.

Moore with William J. Robert C. Sage was a B pilot who flew twenty-nine missions out of Thurleigh, England, as a member of the 8th Air Force, th B. It is accompanied by four chapters describing his life before and after the war, as well as archival photographs, appendices, and extensive notes identifying the individuals and events mentioned in the diary April-September, , including D-Day missions.

This record has lain dormant for over sixty years and was recently uncovered. In contrast, those of their allies in the RAF and RCAF, especially the nocturnal bombers, are usually perceived as being sober and dull.