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.
Where do I even start? How can I review this incredible book? With Amazon having almost 5,000 reviews at a five star rating… what or how could I possibly add to it, except that this is probably one of the best creative non-fiction books I have read in a long time.
A pastor friend of mine recommended that I read Unbroken a year ago. I just picked it up recently and finished it over the weekend. I couldn’t put it down.
This book stretched me as a reader, because it’s not the kind of book I gravitate to. I’m not into books about war. So I’m guilty of judging this book on that premise alone.
I admit, I had to put the book down a few times because I was struggling. At the same token, I kept picking it back up because I needed to find out what was going to happen next. I am glad I persevered and finished it because the ending is unbelievable.
There were times I thought, did this really happen? The story seems surreal, it completely boggles the mind.
If I summarize this book; it was about humanity (the good, the bad and the ugly), the will to live and the resilience of the human spirit.
Unbroken will surprise, refresh and give you hope. It’s a beautiful biography of an American war hero, Louis Zamperini. Someone I never heard of before, but now one of my heroes.
Laura Hillenbrand is a brilliant writer, Unbroken is amazing and I can’t recommend it enough.
Laura Hillenbrand is an American author of books and magazine articles. Born in Fairfax, Virginia, Hillenbrand spent much of her childhood riding bareback “screaming over the hills” of her father’s Sharpsburg, Maryland, farm. A favorite of hers was Come On Seabiscuit, a 1963 kiddie book. “I read it to death, my little paperback copy,” she says. She studied at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, but was forced to leave before graduation when she contracted Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, with which she has struggled ever since. She now lives in Washington, D.C, and rarely leaves her house because of the condition. Hillenbrand married Borden Flanagan, a professor of Government at American University and her college sweetheart, in 2008. She described the onset and early years of her illness in an award-winning essay, A Sudden Illness.