Friday, June 08, 2012

Louis Zamperini on the Tonight Show

Sadly, NBC took down its links to Mr. Zamperini's appearance on the Tonight Show and blocked others from displaying the now-historic interview. [Update 7/13/14]

However, here see a better, longer piece by CBS Sunday Morning (produced by a high school classmate of mine) May 27, 2012.

 Louis Zamperini, the subject of the best-selling book Unbroken, was interviewed by Jay Leno on the Tonight Show Thursday, June 7, 2012. Zamperini talks about how he was tortured and experimented upon by the Japanese on a Pacific island after he was captured having survived 47 days on a life raft. He was eventually shipped to Japan for further torture and ended up as a slave laborer for Japanese corporations. He survived the infamous Ofuna Naval Interogation Center in Kamakura and was then shipped to two of Japan's most horrific prison camps near Tokyo: Omori where he slaved for Nippon Express and then Naoetsu where he labored for Shin-Etsu Chemical and Nippon Stainless (NSSC). These multi-national companies still exist with their same names.

Unbroken will be translated into 23 languages worldwide. Japanese is not one of the languages as no publisher in Japan has shown an interest in this bestseller.

Unbroken will be released as a movie sometime in 2013 by Universal and directed by Francis Lawrence.

Later: Here Mr. Zamperini is interviewed back stage at the Tonight Show and adds a bit more about his 1936 Olympics roommate, Jesse Owens.


  1. As a girl growing up in the 60's anti-war scene, I curiously watched my father as an American Legionaire collecting poppy donations, organizing events for vets, etc. We attended VFW Memorial Day events, dressing up with white gloves and all to attend the full ceremonies.

    I did develop anti-war sentiment, and came to associate the military with the war industry. I wanted to give peace the bigger chance. I knew it was more complicated, and that there are evil-doers in the world, but I did not develop the level of respect and gratitude that my father tried to teach us.

    Not until I read Laura's book did I fully appreciate the level of sacrifice that so many of our vets have made for my own freedoms. The book made it palpable for me. It should have always been - each and every one of the sacrifices that you have made is as important as any other. Today I fly my flag with pride and appreciation. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you.
    Laura Quinn

  2. Laura, I am right there with you. I am a Baby Boomer who argued with my late WWII-disabled father over the Vietnam War. He supported it -- perhaps to honor his own service and assuage his own guilt over battlefield inadequacies (he ended up with "Battle Fatigue")during his time in the Army. I did not support the Vietnam War and maintained a general anti-war stance for many years -- until I got older. I have lost that smugness that comes with youth, and now thank every WWII veteran I meet because I truly understand about the unspeakable experiences such as those outlined in "Unbroken." My husband's uncle was a Wake Island enlisted pilot who ended up in Japanese PW camps for 4 years functioning (barely) as a slave. Apologies are owed and reparation is owed by each and everyone who committed war crimes against American prisoners. There is no statute of limitation. Mitsubishi, et al. If you feel you cannot comply, there is always seppuku. Be my guest.

  3. It's the war we should blame. Americans did the same level of tortures to other races. It's the war to blame...

    1. That is not true, Anonymous. I challenge you to find 10 instances of POW abuse during WW2. I suspect that for every American POW mistreated or abused in German or Japanese POW camps, you'll find thousands of Americans who were severely abused or even killed.

  4. Many of the German POW's actually requested to stay in the US after the war. Anonymous is so typical of the blame America first crowd. Experienced it when I was in the service right after Vietnam. Brian Scilzo

    1. WW2 was the result of German and Japanese aggression and fault fell with them completely. The Vietnam War was a result of American aggression and therefore that war fell on America to have guilt and ownership .


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