Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption – Laura Hillenbrand (2010)


If I read a novel where the protagonist nearly dies several times, survived an airplane being shot through by dozens of bullets, a plane crash in the Pacific Ocean, 47 days adrift at sea without food or water, two and a half years at 3 POW camps, brutal torture, starvation, daily abuse at the hands of a sadistic guard, and survived, I would think that the author was crazy, and that the story was highly unbelievable. Yet, as the adage goes – the truth is stranger than fiction. Unbroken is the true story of Olympic Runner Louis Zamperini and his ordeal through WWII. Beginning as troublesome child, who smoked at age 5, and was consistently stealing through his youth, Zamperini followed his older brother into running, which set him on a path that helped him survive one of the many insane stories of the Second World War. Filled with facts, and interviews with both sides of the Pacific Theatre of WWII, Hillenbrand weaves a story that is more engaging than many fictional accounts. The reader cannot help but want to read what comes next. Well researched and suspenseful, Unbroken carries the reader through Zamperini’s long life, with specific focus on the pain he endured in WWII. As the book is focused on Zamperini, one feels that perhaps Hillenbrand engages in a touch of hero worship, settling her protagonist carefully into his role as survivor. It is difficult to fault the book for this, though, as one cannot help but be impressed by Zamperini. Readers who enjoy WWII epics, and/or memoirs will enjoy this book. (473 pages)

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