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

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Like her previous non-fiction book “Seabiscuit”, the story of “Unbroken” is so amazing, so beautiful that if it wasn’t absolutely true, you would never be able to read it. 

The story of Louis Zamperini and his friends surviving a plane crash and a Japanese P.O.W. camp is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read (well, in this case, I listened to the audiobook, masterfully narrated by Edward Herrmann). 

The thing I enjoy the most about Hillenbrand is that she manages to pick stories that go beyond just one person or event.  Yes, at it’s core, this is a biography of Olympic athlete and World War II Veteran Louis Zamperini.  But these 500 pages are more than just one man’s trials.  It is a story of growing up in American before World War II.  It is the coming-of-age story of a boy who found a way to turn the skill that made him the best trouble maker in town into a world famous sprinter.  It is a story of family, of all the mother’s waiting for their sons to return from war.  It is the horror story of the P.O.W. camps, of a cruel Japanese man who abused more than just Louis, but many men. 

It is a side of World War II that we don’t talk about in history class, perhaps because it’s so much easier to focus on the evil Nazis, who were evil, but the Japanese were not exactly handing out free hugs.  For me, the Pacific front was never covered beyond ending the war with the bomb on Hiroshima.  And there was barely any mention of the men taken as prisoners of war.  The abuse, the disregard for human life, and, at the same time, the amazing willpower these men had to overcome and survive. 

As I said, if this wasn’t true, the ending would be too perfect.  But the fact that Louis’ life comes full circle makes the ending that much more touching. 

Put “Unbroken” on your list now.

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