Sunday, February 8, 2015


8664353On 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.


Laura Hillenbrand shares the amazing life of an Olympic runner and his survival through the horror of WWII with her novel, Unbroken. A truly awe inspiring book, readers will bear witness to the epic journey from California to Hawaii, Texas, and Japanese POW camps. 

Though many exemplary men are discussed in the book, Louis Zamperini claims the role of main character. Beginning as a rambunctious young man, Louis grows into a world class runner, aiming for an Olympic medal. His dedication and strength is astounding. Too stubborn to give up though many obstacles stood in his way, Louis fought for glory in the athletic scene. That stubbornness and perseverance aided him during war time as his aim for glory shifted to survival. Readers will bond with Louis as they experience his life through Hillenbrand's factual writing style and attention to detail. Louis was not only brave and courageous, but a hero to his fellow service members whom he shared his darkest days with. The photographs in the novel will bring readers closer to the people they learn about, solidifying connections to an unbreakable status. 

The plot follows Louis from birth to the mid 1990s, through his school days, his enlistment, training, missions, his journey while lost at sea, and into the POW camps. It's more than a miracle that he survived. Compiled from interviews conducted by the author, letters, war documents, diaries, and other sources, Hillenbrand gives readers a 360 degree view of the life of Louis Zamperini. Not a usual reader of military history, Unbroken left me spellbound, unable to stop reading until the book was finished. I'm sure it has touched many, if not all, who have read it. The novel supplied just enough distance for me to connect with the characters without worrying that I wouldn't be able to finish the book because of becoming emotionally overwhelmed. I'm so glad I took the chance at reading this book, simply amazing. 

Rating: 4.5/5 Cups

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