Published by Random House on November 6, 2010
On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.
The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.
Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.
In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit. Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.
Louie Zamperini led (good or bad) an incredible life. I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone to contradict that. It feels strange to say you are “fond of” a person being in a POW camp, going through the unimaginable, but Louie has grit and overcomes it, remaining “Unbroken”. Not only was the subject matter provoking but Hillenbrand’s writing is excellent and through her meticulous research gave a grand view of the 1936 Olympics and weeks aboard a raft.
Not Fond of:
He finds God. Not just God, Billy Graham. This is not a knock at religion, I was happy that he was able to come to peace with his experience but I get a little annoyed/tired of stories, fiction or non that conclude with the finding of Him. It just felt a little “Chicken Soup for the Soul.”
It was a riveting story and is one of the few books that lives up to the hype. But I think because my Dad, who recommended Unbroken, talked it up so much that my expectations were a bit high. Overall, Unbroken was a little difficult to read at times because it was such an intense subject matter but Louie Zamberini’s story is worth the time.