Monday, February 27, 2012

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand has been perched on the New York Times bestseller list for over a year with good reason.  It is the remarkable story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner, a World War II veteran, a crash survivor, a survivor of the brutal Japanese prisoner camps and a fearless man.  Laura Hillenbrand's previous work, Seabiscuit, was a highly successful 2002 work.  This work was recently optioned for a movie.

Louis Zamperini grew up in California and was a rambunctious teenager.  With his brother's guidance, he became a runner, nearly breaking the four minute mile.  He competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics turning in an extraordinary performance in an event he had no real experience in.  His training for the 1940 Olympics was cut off by the war.  As part of an air force bomber crew, Zamperini flew regularly over the Pacific.  In May 1943, his plane went down.  Miraculously, Zamperini and two other crew members barely survived.  They spent 47 days drifting at sea in a tiny raft with essentially no provisions.  The three men survived daily shark attacks and a vicious attack by a Japanese bomber.  Picked up by the Japanese, Zamperini was interned in a POW camp.  He was brutally beaten and barely survived his two-year ordeal.  The US government had declared Zamperini as dead.  His return home at the end of the war was nothing short of a miracle.  Today, Zamperini is in his 90s.

With this work, Hillenbrand turned in a magnificent performance.  The book is meticulously researched.  It is loaded with corroborating facts.  Hillenbrand does a masterful job of telling this modern Odyssey story.  Some reviewers have noted their disbelief at parts of Zamperini's story.  While many parts of the story defy reality, what many soldiers and Holocaust survivors endured (and how they did it) defies comprehension.  Hillenbrand's reputation and work deserves deference. The book reads as well as any fiction work.  It is a page turner and will give you a deep respect for the unbroken spirit of Mr. Zamperini.  He truly is an American hero.

1 comment:

  1. I loved your review! It totally captured me. I haven't read the book because my son is a recent Marine, and I'm extra sensitive to war stories, but I so admire their courage and perseverance; qualities that help us all.

    Must see Noblesville Roofing