Hillenbrand balances thorough research with literary storytelling to bring Louie’s story to life. Her curiosity about and engagement with Louie’s life is evident in the way she presents information. One example of this is in her introduction to Jimmie Sasaki, Louie’s Japanese friend at USC. Later in the story, the reader learns more about Jimmie, but parts of him will remain mysterious. Hillenbrand hooks the reader's curiosity about Jimmie with techniques one might find in a mystery novel, like cliffhangers Hillenbrand’s book ultimately might make a reader question whether there are clear divisions between nonfiction and fiction, or even divisions within genres of stories. With this in mind, a reader should also be aware that Hillenbrand controls the story and can distort the reader’s perception of it.

Chapter Five continues to offer information about current events alongside Louie’s story, and to show how this book offers not only a personal story but also a historical narrative about WWII. War will show Louie a great deal about human cruelty, and the capacity of people to harm others. But even before the war, Louie has already learned this. The NCAA race, where fellow runners purposefully injured him, is an indicator of the dark side of humanity, and foreshadows the cruelty he will witness in the future. As with other parts of Louie’s story, Louie’s experience here will help him navigate his later experiences. The war starts to intervene in Louie’s running life with the cancellation of the Olympics. Hillenbrand uses the opportunity to present the intersecting narratives of Louie’s life and that of the larger world, which faces entry into a world war. With the obstacle of the cancelled Olympics, Louie has little choice but to reroute his life, eventually joining the military.