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

unbroken

* CONTAINS SPOILERS

Unbroken is about the incredible life of Louis Zamperini starting with a mischievous childhood in California and discovering in his teens an unrivaled talent for track running. After a short career as a U.S. Olympian, Louis joins the U.S. Army Air Forces and is deployed to the Pacific as a bombardier. On a fateful mission to find a missing plane, Louis and the crew he is travelling with are shot down by the Japanese. Only Louis and two other men resurface, and spend a harrowing number of days trapped together on a tiny lifeboat with no food or water. When the men finally reach land, they are immediately captured by the Japanese navy. Meanwhile, the Zamperini family have been waiting anxiously for word that he is still alive and can’t believe it when the Army declares that Louis is dead. As years go by, they try to move on with their lives, having no idea that Louis is a prisoner of war in Japan.

THE GOOD
Unbroken is an thrilling story about survival and finding hope, going through hell and coming back, more than once. I found it difficult to walk away from this (audio) book for too long. I really like how Unbroken spans the life of Louis up until publication (he died this year at age 97), so that the story feels as if it comes full circle.

THE BAD
The torture and mistreatment Louis and other POWs endure at the hands of their Japanese captors is completely dehumanizing, both heinous and heartbreaking, and I cried (as I always do) over how anyone could treat another human being with such depravity.

CONCLUSION
Unbroken captured my heart and mind with Louis Zamperini’s true story. I wondered why the movie adaptation is coming out at this time of year, but I believe now that it truly is an inspirational story with a message that complements the spirit of the holidays. The message that even in your darkest moments there can be a light that leads you back home to the ones you love, and Louis Zamperini embodies the inner strength inside us all.

4/5 Stars

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10 comments on “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

  1. WordsAndPeace
    December 5, 2014

    I loved this book so much, and when you know the conditions in which the author wrote it, it’s even more amazing

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      December 11, 2014

      Agreed! They seem so cliché, but stories about beating the odds still have a tremendous affect on me.

      Like

  2. Naomi
    December 5, 2014

    This was such an amazing story. But, it was torturous to read about the prisoners and how they were treated. I don’t know how they survived. The parts about the way the Japanese soldiers thought about the war and their honour was also interesting. Or, was that another book I read around the same time? I’m not sure if I will want to see this movie.
    It’s also amazing that he made it to 97 after everything he’s been through, during and after the war.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      December 11, 2014

      I can’t imagine what POWs lived through and can only guess the men were so broken down they were operating solely on instinct. I’m not sure if I will watch the movie because I’m sure the book is so much better, but it truly was amazing that Louis outlived everyone in the book.

      Like

  3. Brian Joseph
    December 6, 2014

    This sounds very good. I agree that spanning the entirety of a really long life often makes a very satisfactory story.

    I have read a couple of books about captives of the Japanese Empire in World War II. Indeed they can be difficult to take.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      December 11, 2014

      It was disturbing to read about the poor living conditions and torture the POWs endured, but I feel that the author tried not to be gratuitous with her descriptions of the violence.

      Like

  4. Cleo @ Classical Carousel
    December 6, 2014

    I’m really looking forward to reading this but I can’t seem to get it from the library for long enough to complete it —— everyone else wants it!

    I enjoyed reading your review!

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      December 11, 2014

      Thanks! I know your pain. I was on the hold list for months to the get this book and I managed to just squeeze it in before the due date. 🙂

      Like

  5. DoingDewey
    December 20, 2014

    I usually skip reviews with spoilers for books I haven’t read, but I’d heard about the torture in this one and I’ve decided I’m not up to reading it. Perhaps someday, but right now I still struggle to enjoy books with fictional violence and nonfiction always hits me harder.I’m glad that you ended up enjoying it, despite the difficult bits, and I enjoyed your review 🙂

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      December 21, 2014

      I understand your struggle and how hard it can be. I’m always haunted by the violence and suffering I’ve read about long after I’ve finished a book. For instance, I’m not sure I can read anymore about the Holocaust because it is beyond imagination and completely heartbreaking. But I haven’t figured out where, or if, I should draw a line with my reading.

      Like

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This entry was posted on December 5, 2014 by in Reviews and tagged , .

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