Saturday, May 14, 2011

Book Review: Unbroken

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

This sort of book is not typically my cup of tea: lengthy (400 pages of text, 75 pages of notes), detailed and graphically horrifying biography of a WWII war hero. But I heard an interview with the author, perhaps on Fresh Air, and clicked over to and ordered a used copy from an associate seller.  I was not disappointed.
The story is of Louie Zamperini, a southern California juvenile delinquent turned track star that participated in the Berlin Olympics in 1936. He was then later a member of the US air force in WWII, and subsequently shot down over the Pacific. He then survived adrift for over a month with a couple buddies in a rubber raft (complete with shark attacks) until he was caught by the Japanese forces and held as a POW.  After surviving more than two years of severe brutality in several POW camps Japan surrendered and Zamperini was freed.
Zamperini returns to California for the next chapter of his life, trying to emerge from the psychological wreckage created by his war experience.  He embarks on a long and heartbreaking journey to the bottom of the proverbial barrel, but then has a life changing experience that helps him climb back out.
Remarkably, later in life he manages to forgive his captors, including the one Japanese official who relentlessly targeted him with unspeakable and inhuman brutality.
Zamperini’s life, experiences, endurance, resilience and heroism is almost too incredible to be believed. This is a tale unlike most others.  It is well written and enthralling.
I will add it to my list of books at the Expat Lending Library online.  If you would like to check it out, just let me know.


Kay said...

This was the best book... and Happy birthday to you!

Jim said...

Thanks for the birthday wishes. It seems we keep coming up with similar interests. Nice. Right now I am reading "Sing Me Home" by Jodi Picoult. Too early for comment...

Fiona said...

That sounds like a great book. Being in Germany, I constantly think about WWII. I just got back from visiting Dresden, which was totally annhialated (sp?) during the war, and in the last several years has been rebuilt to almost identical what it used to be, even using some of the old bricks!
Every time I see an old person, I wonder about what they've lived through. I also wonder about generations of people absent of fathers.