Book Review: Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In ~Louis Zamperini and David Rensin (Unbroken)

Book Summary: The award winning book and motion picture, Unbroken, is the incredible biography of one of the nation’s most well-known war heroes, Louis Zamperinini. Zamperini, a former Olympic medal winner in track (1936 Berlin Olympics), entered the military during World War II and after surviving a plane crash became lost at sea with two other soldiers. After spending 47 days of fighting off sharks, battling starvation, creatively resisting extreme sun burn and nearly losing their minds, they tragically found land on the shores of Japan. Unbroken continues on to tell the reader about the devastating and tragic two years that Louis spent as the most infamous prisoner and the focus of the most hated prison guard at the camp, who is referred to as “The Bird”. Unbroken unfolds how he was able to overcome unthinkably difficult and extreme situations and survive to impact the lives of others.

Counter to the book Unbroken, Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In, is a first person account of the strategies that Louis used to survive and how it impacted his life after the war. After promising his life to Christ if he survived the war, Louis came back, eventually married and spent a lifetime giving back to others in the name of Christ. Don’t Give Up and Don’t Give in is an inspiring story and gives a unique perspective on life that with great insight into the mindset and attitude of a relentless man that never gave up and never gave in.

Coaching Takeaways:

  1. Louis was a mischievous kid that got into a lot of trouble with the law. For rebellious players on your team it can help you to understand why they might be misbehaving and what they are seeking from that misbehavior. After Louis survived the war he began to work with troubled kids and realized that most of them are expressing an issue that is obstructing the success in their life and they need help. Louis also shares his personal testimony as a non law abiding adolescent who didn’t know how to respect himself. He suggests that if a young person is battling discipline because self-esteem issues they don’t have self-respect. To combat that you have to help them find peace in accomplishing something that makes them proud and shows themselves that they are competent.

    “My self-esteem was affected by my anxiety over what others thought of me. That weakened my natural confidence. And made me angry. Positive self-esteem must be preceded by self-respect. To get self-respect you have to do something good. Causing mischief wasn’t good.”

  1. Teaching forgiveness for yourself or among your players. Louis eventually made a trip back to Japan (much later on in his life) and made an effort to find all of the men that had a hand in torturing him during his imprisonment. If he can grow enough and find the strength to forgive those atrocities your players can forgive one another for the usual team issues. As well, if you have a player that is holding onto an anger or frustration with a person or situation, Louis’s perspective and story can possibly help them to find the strength to forgive and allow them to move on.

“The hardest thing in life is to forgive. But hate is self-destructive. If you hate somebody you’re not hurting the person you hate, you’re hurting yourself. Forgiveness is healing.”


  1. Pushing past your limits. There is an old saying that your mind will quit way before your body ever does and Louis’s story is a testament to how we can push ourselves much further than most of us ever care to. The book shares advice on keeping a mindset to help you overcome difficult circumstances, discipline yourself and find ways to continually serve others in an effort to improve their lives. As well it shares an incredible testament to his dedication to serve others in the name of Christ and how he believed in letting his life be an example of the Lords mercy and divine plan.

    “Louis was miraculous. He didn’t perform miracles to demonstrate his power before men, but miracles happened to him to demonstrate the power of God in his life. “

  2. “A smooth sea never made for a good sailor” (see entire quote below). We often have this perfect ideal of success in that rough waters shouldn’t ever hit if we are living, playing, coaching and preparing as we should. Rough waters are a guarantee. What determines your success is your response to the waters and whether or not you have a relentless pursuit to overcome them.

Other Quotes from the Book:

“What I hope you’ll discover is that I’m just an ordinary man with faults, who when confronted with extraordinary circumstances—- in sports, in war, in life, and in faith— resolved to not give up and not give in, to keep looking for answers, and to make my life count right up to the last minute.”

“That’s the way it should be. If you give something and you lose, so what? It’s not going to put you in your grave. I walked away knowing I could handle defeat gracefully, and I had more self-esteem from that (losing his first race) than from winning the race.”

“Survival, in any situation, from the outdoors to the office, depends on education, preparation, and anticipation. You’ve got to think ahead.”

“When I counseled troubled kids I found that they had lots of serious hate: for their situations, sometimes their families, society, the rules, and often themselves. I knew from my own experience that there is a twisted kind of satisfaction that comes from hating. You hate and hate, and think you’re getting even by hating. But it’s a ruse. It’s a cover-up. Hate destroys— but not the object of your hatred. It destroys you.”

“The bible warns that a smooth sea never made a good sailor. I’m sure all faiths express their own version of this tenet. Nothing happens overnight. The picture painted by the well-meaning overenthusiastic is that often after a conversion God gives the new believer a steady diet of happiness and nothing can go wrong. That’s not true. On the contrary, like every other sincere person who is striving to believe in a new way of life— however they get there– in spite having so long lived another way, with a mind conditioned to cynicism, I had to go through a period of despondency, doubt, and painful self-examination. Deep meanings aren’t immediately revealed because, frankly, like trying to teach calculus to a second-grader, you’re not able to handle it.”

“It’s tough to have a conversation if only one person is paying attention and the other individual has already made up their mind about what’s what. You need to break the stalemate by shifting their perspective.”

“I would never tell a boy that he was bad, or compare him to another boy and ask why he couldn’t be more like him. That’s not helpful. I might offer a little direction, but I never made decisions for my boys. The idea was to reach a point where they said, “Yeah this is what I should do. Then I’d try to help them do it.”

“One way to deal with stress is to stay as active as you can and burn off the burnout”

” I now know that the measure of a man is based on how he lives his life each day, and what he contributes rather than takes from society.”


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