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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.a
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.
"Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption" is the newest book from Laura Hillenbrand, author of "Seabiscuit." Let me start off by saying that "Unbroken" is amazing. The story it tells is awe-inspiring, and the writing which conveys it is beautiful.
From the very first chapter I knew I was in for a treat. Hillenbrand immediately takes the reader deep into the life of Louis Zamerini, the main character. Nearly every passage in this book is informed by the immense amount of research that Hillenbrand did, and that research shines through every page. Facts about Louis's track days are scattered through the first chapters, quotes from first-hand witnesses are inserted often, and photographs provided directly from the main players in the story and their families are littered throughout. The reader really gets to know Zamperini and all the supporting cast very intimately.
However, all this factual information would be nothing without beautiful writing to tie it all together, and Hillenbrand brings it in spades. Through all the climactic moments, and all the lulls, Hillenbrand's writing carries the reader through the story with grace - and what a story it is! I find it hard to think of anyone who would not enjoy this book. It is a story of human resilience and the strength to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles. It is also a wonderfully moving story of Christian faith. I am inspired by the stories of the men and women in this book and I think anyone who reads it will be too.
I give it 5 out of 5 stars. This is a clean read.
This book was reviewed by my husband, Addison.
I want to thank Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.