Tag Archive: World War II

I’m all about heroes this month, what with The Avengers hitting theaters and all.  But that’s fantasy … in real life, heroes are people who struggle, battle uphill, overcome, have staying power, give others a hand to climb up in their path, and do their best to keep promises. Here’s to real heroes, and a big thank-you to my client, author David Seagraves, who came to me for interior layout and formatting of his book about just such a real hero.

David Seagraves has just published (via Prana Press) the book Uncommon Hero: The John Seagraves Story, an inspirational and historical account of his father’s life. If you enjoy history, WWII U.S. Navy stories, biographies of fascinating people, or motivating accounts of underdogs overcoming the odds, this is a book for you!  Here is the official book description:

“In Uncommon Hero: The John Seagraves Story, author David Seagraves chronicles the life of his father from John’s upbringing as a poor Southern youngster, through his exploits in the Navy during WWII, to a successful entrepreneur and present day world traveler still quite active in his mid-80s. Courage overcame his lack of education, social barriers, and lowly expectations opening doors to opportunities which helped shape and characterize him throughout his life. John served on Battleship USS North Carolina, the most successful and highly decorated battleship in U.S. Navy history. Over and above their individual duties, he and his gun crew volunteered to defend the ship with complete disregard for their own safety. On April 14, 1945, the 18-year-old sailor and his gun crew defended the ship from an attack which caught everyone else by surprise. Being the first gun group to spot and target a kamikaze plane headed directly toward them, John fired upon the deadly plane, downing the aircraft just 30 feet from the battleship. This isolated act saved untold lives and the ship’s legacy under the most severe circumstances. In a collision of American, African American and Navy history, John holds center stage having impacted the lives of many people before, during and after the war. The family man, with a tireless work ethic and drive to succeed, faced obstacles in the South and during WWII with enthusiasm, relocated and started a family in the North after the war, and found prosperity sharing his passion with the world. He continues to live a vibrant life as a restaurant owner with his wife Mildred. Uncommon Hero has been authored as a cathartic tribute, first, commemorating the man who came from nothing with an unknown past and whose powerful will created the life he wanted, second, offering insight into the core values that still inspire David. The book reveals traits, honed during wartime, which made his father a strong leader. While John’s story drives the book, the lessons underlying his actions provide a blueprint for a path to wealth for younger generations.”

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4 1/2 stars.

Laura Hillenbrand (author of Seabiscuit) tells the spellbinding story of the life of Louis Zamperini, from his days as a feral, street-wise youth, to his success as an Olympic runner, to his harrowing experiences in the Pacific Theater during World War II, and finally to his coping in the aftermath of returning home.

I typically read fiction for pleasure, and much nonfiction feels stilted and unmoving to me. But there were times in this incredible story when I was on the edge of my seat. Hillenbrand did a commendable job of conveying the epic adventure of Zamperini’s life along with an amazing array of facts, statistics, and little-know tidbits about the period.

The reason I did not give the book a full five stars is a small complaint that I’ve read from other reviewers: Some of the amazing revelations are glossed over a bit. A few nearly unbelievable facts are not really explained or expounded on to the level they seem to deserve. Some might say that this is due to the author not wanting to intercede in offering merely what happened, and not why or what it’s significance was. But this isn’t the case; she explains many things throughout the book for readers’ greater understanding, but then leaves others hanging in midair.

Despite this one nagging little issue, the book is overwhelmingly worth reading. In fact, everyone should read it (or another book like it); it brings home to the heart what some have had to suffer, makes one think hard and long about what we take for granted and how we treat others, and provides a shining example of mind-over-matter attitude — in the end, Zamperini and others around him survived their ordeals due to their deep senses of self-worth, optimism, and dignity. And, Louis would add, the grace of God. It’s a true-life lesson for EVERYONE!

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