Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption By Lauren Hillenbrand Random House, Inc 496 pages. $27.00
If you’ve been following my reading resolutions, you know “Unbroken” by Laruen Hillenbrand was my February pick. Once I knew I wasn’t going to finish it in February, I promised I’d finish by the end of March, and I’m happy to say I have, and I’m sure my husband is happy I’m finished too.
“Unbroken” is the true story of Louis Zamperini, a one time Olympic runner, who after surviving a B-24 crash in the Pacific Ocean spent 47 days at sea only to be captured by the Japanese. He was held in several POW camps, each one worse than the previous, from 1943 to the war’s end in 1945.
The book follows Louie from his precarious childhood, through his record breaking running career, through his horrific war experience, through his Post-Traumatic Stress battles, and finally ends with his redemption at a Rev. Billy Graham convention.
Hillenbrand has an engaging writing style, but the book is heavy in fact. By the middle, I felt like I had read double the pages I had and was intimidated by the two hundred and some more left to go. However, the more I read the more I wanted to read. I’d say I liked it, but that doesn’t seem appropriate since most of the book describes men being tortured.
And though much of what happened to Louie was horrible, the story isn’t told as dark as it could have been, in fact there’s a certain light to it. From page one I felt Louie’s extraordinary character shine through. His will to live and his ability to forgive made this harrowing tale turn into one of hope.
For much of the book I read a section, put it down, declared “This book is awful,” and then told my husband all about what had just happened. I’d share with him the many facts of the war I was unaware of and facts about the planes I had no clue about, but of course this wasn’t new to my husband who reads and watches a lot of WWII books and documentaries.
By the end, I found myself wishing I could meet this man. I have a new appreciation for all the boring documentaries my husband made me watch in the past. I also wonder about how much history is glossed over, skipped over or simply forgotten.
This book was an enlightening read that brought me to tears on more than one occasion, and I think that tells you more about it than me saying whether or not I liked it.
For history and non-history buffs alike, I highly recommend this book.