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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival. Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Believe the hype - this is a fantastic book!

Sometimes books, movies, or restaurants get a lot of hype and buzz but really are not what they are cracked up to be.  Unbroken is everywhere nowadays - bookstores, my local grocery store is selling it. I just saw online that there is a movie deal. 

Is it the real deal?


Laura Hillenbrand

Yes, Unbroken is an amazing biography, and it is most definitely the real deal. I plowed right through 450 pages of text in near-record time, devouring chunks of a story that continued to take new twists and turns and lead me to follow Louis Zamperini from the heights of athletic glory in the 1936 Berlin Olympics to the literal pits of despair in a digging out prison camp latrine with his bare hands in order to earn enough grains of rice to barely fuel his ravaged, starved body.


Louis Zamperini grew up as a juvenile deliquent in Torrance, California - a restless kid who, at the urging of his big brother, finally channelled his impressive running skills into something more acceptable than running away from the law. Louis used those skills to earn a spot on the 1936 U.S. Olympic team. He competed well, but expected to do better at the 1940 and 1944 games, which of course were later cancelled due to World War II.


Louis Zamperin looking through a
hole blasted through his B-24
on a mission.

Instead of running in the Olympics, Louis found himself training to be a bombardier on a B-24 and heading off to fight in the Pacific Theater.  On a search and rescue mission in 1943, his plane went down and only Louis and two crewmates survived. After floating at sea for 47 days (and losing a raftmate), Louis and his pilot Russell Phillips were picked up by Japanese soldiers and eventually transferred through a series of POW camps, each new one more horrific than the last until the end of the war, including one horrible guard nickamed The Bird.


Hillenbrand 's descriptions of the terrible torture of floating at sea, the humiliations he suffered in the POW camps, the incredible kindness showed by a precious few guards are exquisite. Her descriptions of his post-traumatic stress disorder and his difficulties in adjusting to civilian life after the war are painful but it is a joy to see him turn his life around, discard the justifiable and understandable anger and move on to make his life count in the best ways he knows how.

This is a fantastic book. I rate it 5 stars out of 5.

Reviewed February 1, 2011.

1 comment:

  1. This book was amazing! Thank you Laura Hillenbrand for your style of writing and interest you have shown to bring an accurate account. Look forward another book to come...

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