Thursday, 22 December 2016

Review: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails.  As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.  But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.  Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion.  His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

Kindle Edition, 497 pages
Published November 6th 2010 by Random House 
Genre: History/Nonfiction/Biography

Kristine's Thoughts:

This book has been reviewed hundreds of thousands of times plus was made into a movie so I will keep my thoughts relatively short. I have a fascination with WWI and WWII and have read hundreds of books both fiction and nonfiction about both. I knew nothing about Louis Zamperini and my knowledge of the role the Japanese played in the war was fairly limited to Pearl Harbor and the atomic bomb. I've also read a lot about the Japanese Americans that were sent to internment camps in the US. Most of my knowledge of WWII was around the Holocaust and I'm fairly well read on  Russia and the 900 day blockade in Leningrad. However, with all of the reading I've done you would think that I would be beyond capable of being shocked. WRONG...this book shocked me over and over and over again.

The things that Zamperini went through, endured, braved and challenged were beyond any words that I have. A strong person would be lucky to survive just one of the ordeals that he lived through. For him to be challenged so many times in so many ways was just short of unbelievable. In fact, I think unbelievable was the word that I kept uttering while turning the pages. Seriously, his war was fought on so many levels in so many ways that I don't know where he ever found the strength to keep going. That also goes for the rest of the POWs that he was with.

War is ugly and Louis' story is just one of millions from all sides of the battle that proved just how ugly it is. Strength and endurance was something that was a necessity in order to survive.

This book fed my thirst for knowledge even though the subject matter was tough to take at times. Now that I've finally cleared this book from my TBR pile I can also watch the movie.

About the Author
Laura Hillenbrand (born 1967) is the author of the acclaimed Seabiscuit: An American Legend, a non-fiction account of the career of the great racehorse Seabiscuit, for which she won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year in 2001. The book later became the basis of the 2003 movie Seabiscuit. Her essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Equus magazine, American Heritage, The Blood-Horse, Thoroughbred Times, The Backstretch, Turf and Sport Digest, and many other publications. Her 1998 American Heritage article on the horse Seabiscuit won the Eclipse Award for Magazine Writing.

Born in Fairfax, Virginia, Hillenbrand studied at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, but was forced to leave before graduation when she contracted chronic fatigue syndrome, which she has struggled with ever since. She now lives in Washington, D.C.

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