September 5, 2012 Edition

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Overloaded but not 'Unbroken'

John Bland
Publsiher

While attending the Arkansas Razorbacks' season football opener Saturday in Fayetteville, I was feeling my age. The trend is hardly new, but it felt like my senses were assaulted and overloaded by all the sights and sounds.

A little of the loud music played over the P.A. system goes a long way with me. There is also a visual barrage of live video, replays and information on the upgraded jumbo screen, located high above the North end zone, as well as the narrow screens that run across the skyboxes. All this action is in addition to the actual game on the field, as well as the bands, cheerleaders and pompom squad.

A friend said all these extras are necessary to appeal to the younger generation with shortened attention spans and to keep up with and meet the expectations of today's fans in big-time college football.

Some of these bells and whistles are enjoyable, such as the instant replays and being able to see close-ups of some of the happenings on field. It's also fun to watch people's faces, especially the exuberant fans and students, featured on the big screen. Without the big screen, some of the 70,000 plus fans couldn't see nearly as much from the upper sections.

However, I think the loud music on the P.A. speakers overshadows the school bands. Both the Razorback Marching Band and the band from Jacksonville State, Ala., were huge and impressive and didn't need a P.A. system to amplify their volume.

By the game's end, my one-track mind, that also has a short attention span, was spinning. I will admit that the game experience was fun and definitely exciting.

*********

I highly recommend the book, "Unbroken," written by Laura Hillenbrand, who is also the author of "Seabiscuit." The book, which came out in 2010, is the true story of Louis Zamperini, as well as his fellow airmen.

Louie, who is now age 95, is a former Olympic runner, competing in the Berlin Olympics in 1936. He served in the Army Air Force during World War II and was shot down over the Pacific Ocean. His story of survival is unbelievable.

The amount of research that Hillenbrand did in writing the book is staggering. Besides countless interviews with Louie, all done by phone, she rechecked his facts with other individual sources and read through countless documents and letters. Due to illness, she wrote the book while confined to her home and did not meet Louie until a meeting was arranged after the book was written.

I refer to Mr. Zamperini as Louie, because while reading the book, you come to regard Louie and his friends as your friends. Other readers felt the same way, as I learned while scanning reader comments to Mr. Zamperini on a website. One reader commented that "Louie bares his soul" in the book.

To think that Louie and his comrades could endure what they did leaves the reader astounded by the strength of the human spirit. If you like a true and inspirational story, "Unbroken" is both, and you do not have to be a fan of sports or war stories to appreciate it.

The author hints to the inspiration of this book in her simple dedication:

"For the wounded and the lost."

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