Christian Biography Featured on Air Force Reading List

The Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Norton Schwartz, recently published his 2012 reading list, part of the CSAF Professional Reading Program.

In the first quarter, one of the featured books is the biography of a Christian, Unbroken.

As noted in a separate review (here), Unbroken is the biography of Louis Zamperini, a World War II B-24 bombardier who also wrote an autobiography entitled Devil at My Heels (reviewed here). Unbroken focused on “survival and resilience,” leaving the “redemption” part of its subtitle to just the last few pages.  Redemption, of course, came in the form of Zamperini accepting Christ at a Billy Graham crusade in 1949, his forgiveness of his former captors, and going on to a life of speaking his story and the gospel.

Unbroken is a well-told biography in its own right, and those who are inspired by the story may likewise be inspired by the introduction to the gospel as it closes.  Given the somewhat abrupt ending of Unbroken, they may even be moved to pick up Zamperini’s autobiography and hear a more explicit testimony.

Obviously, being chosen for the CSAF reading list is not an instant endorsement of every aspect of either the books or those whose lives the books chronicle.  Alongside Unbroken is Paradise Beneath her Feet, about “feminism and Islam,” as well as the more benign Airpower for Strategic Effect.  (Last year, Robin Olds’ Fighter Pilot made the list, detailing the very flawed life of one of the most respected leaders in the US Air Force.)  General Schwartz said he hoped the list would be a

multi-disciplinary educational experience that facilitates discussions on key issues that face us as a Nation and as a service

That Louis Zamperini served in the B-24 in World War II, when thousands died just in training flights, is engaging.  That he survived on the open, shark-infested ocean and in Japanese prisoner of war camps, when those next to him perished and some lost hope, is moving.  That he would ultimately find closure in the ability to forgive and live through faith in Jesus Christ, a challenge for man in any war, is inspiring.

The US military has had difficulties trying to help returning combat veterans struggling to reintegrate with their families and society.  Maybe the example of one man who found Jesus Christ and finally triumphed over similar challenges in a book recommended by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force will “facilitate discussions” and inspire others to victory.