Those are the words used on the cover of a best-selling biography to summarize the trials and triumphs of an amazing American.
Louis Zamperini, one of the World War II veterans who are quickly leaving us, has lived an extraordinary life since his birth in Olean, N.Y., in 1917.
That life is detailed in a tremendous book, "Unbroken," written by Laura Hillenbrand, author of another New York Times best-seller concerning a completely different "person," the racing legend "Seabiscuit."
"Seabiscuit" was developed into an Academy Award-winning motion picture. There certainly is a cinematic quality to "Unbroken" that would lend itself to a similar course.
There are dramatic life stories to be told -- and then there is this one, which stands as a sentinel among the many in the "Greatest Generation."
Zamperini's family moved to Torrance, Calif., when he was a very young child and he grew up there as, shall we say, a precocious young man. If there was trouble to get into, he found it -- nothing of the severe delinquent variety, but enough to make him at least known to the cops on the beat.
It was though his older brother Pete that Louis (known by everyone as Louie), developed an early interest in running. Designated by his townspeople as the "Torrance Tornado," he earned an unlikely spot as a 19-year-old in the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936. He finished eighth in the 5,000-meter run, but ran an amazing 56-second final lap. That led to his notice by Adolf Hitler, who summoned the young man to his box at the conclusion of the race. In typical Louie-form, he later stole a Nazi flag and was briefly detained by the Gestapo before being released to return home.
Zamperini's goal was to compete in the 1,500-meter race in the 1940 Olympics in Tokyo, but World War II exploded and the games were canceled.
He volunteered for the Army Air Force and soon was flying combat missions on a B-24 in the Pacific.
It was at that point the story becomes one of legend. His plane went down on a rescue mission and he and two other airmen were the only ones to survive the crash. Thus began an odyssey in which the three struggled to overcome all odds in a pair of small rubber rafts in the vast Pacific. The details of that amazing ordeal are detailed brilliantly by the author.
They eventually found land, but unfortunately it was inhabited by the Japanese Army. Thus began a lengthy POW internment that stretched Zamperini and the other Allied forces in captivity to the limit of their endurance (and, of course, many didn't make it).
Thus the earlier reference to the survival of Louie Zamperini and his remarkable tale of resilience and courage. The latter stages of the book detail his problems after arriving back home and, finally, the personal and Christian redemption that freed him from the nightmares of his past.
While virtually all of his friends and family are gone, Louie still survives today at age 94, a remarkable man who packed into one life a story for the ages.