Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Published in 2010, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand has been on the New York Times Bestseller’s List nearly 150 times, has over 3.5 million copies in print, and is the basis for the movie directed by Angelina Jolie which is scheduled for release Christmas 2014. Laura Hillenbrand also wrote Seabiscuit: An American Legend, the story of a famous racehorse that became an American hero during the Great Depression. Louie Zamperini joked that he would be an easier subject than the horse because he could talk (399), and his interviews with the author showed his remarkable memory. For seven years Laura Hillenbrand “traced Louie’s path through history” (402) through these interviews along with diaries, letters, telegrams, military documents, war-crime trial records, National Archives, and interviews with family, friends, fellow soldiers and others who were part of his story.
Louis Zamperini was an athlete who ran in the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin where he met Adolf Hitler who called him “the boy with the fast finish” (35). Louie was one of the world’s greatest runners before he enlisted in the Army Air Corp at the beginning of World War II. He was a B-24 Liberator bombardier who served for two years before a crash landing in the ocean. He drifted for 47 days and over 2,000 miles of ocean and he survived starvation, dehydration, sharks, enemy fire, and a typhoon. When Louie was finally rescued by the Japanese he was made a prisoner of war in some of the worst POW Japanese camps where he faced slave labor, sickness, and physical, emotional, and psychological torture at the hands of psychopathic, sadistic camp officials for two years until the end of World War II.
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption is the ultimate survival story of man against nature, man against man, and man against self. Louie Zamperini survived not only seven weeks adrift on the Pacific Ocean with little hope of rescue but he stayed alive for two years in brutal prison camps. He learned to move on both mentally and physically, and he went on to carry the 1998 Winter Games Olympic torch through Naoetsu, the Japanese village where he had once been imprisoned. For this reason, I’ve recommended this book to students, teachers, and others. In my opinion this is one of the best books I’ve read because it’s inspiring to read about what a man can go through and not be broken.