Tuesday, December 28, 2010

167 - Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption; Laura Hillenbrand

















Louie Zamperini was a juvenile delinquent who grew up in Torrence, California. He broke into houses, eluded the police, rode the rails, and, then he learned boxing as a way of defending himself.  A bit later he channeled his excess energy, by becoming a runner. He was so good that he even participated in the 1936 Berlin games.  A short time after (1940) , it was wartime and Louie was drafted. He had become an Air Corp man, assigned to a B-24 bomber that was prone to crashes. Crash it did on May 27, 1943, and for nearly 47 days, Zamperini and his pilot drifted nearly 2,000 miles on an ill-equipped raft in the shark filled waters of the Pacific ocean. The were eventually captured by Japanese sailors when they were spotted as they reached the Marshall Islands.

If that experience wasn't horrible enough, he and others who were captured by the Japanese, spent the next two years facing horrific tortures while housed at various POW camps. But, Louie Zamperini's was a survivor,  despite the torture, beatings, humiliation, starvation, and disease.  The guards were sadistic and relentless, and seemed to take pleasure in the torture they inflicted on the POWs. When they were finally released at the end of the war, he returned home to a family who was told he was dead.

For years following his release, Zamperini suffered nightmares and flashbacks. He used alcohol to excess to try and forget the past, and with the help of his wife Cynthia, and the Rev. Billy Graham, Louie, in 1949, eventually came to terms with what he was forced to endure.  It appears that Zamperini's early life experiences may have actually prepared him to survive what he was forced to endure, and to remain "unbroken".  Much of his post war years has been spent as an inspirational speaker with troubled youth. He is now 93 years old.

The author, Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit, did an amazing job with this 500 pp book.  The pages just about turned themselves, as once I started reading, I was hooked. The stories of what transpired at the POW camps were very disturbing, but they needed to be told. Read as an eBook, I found the photos a pleasant treat.  A memorable tribute to a man who heroic man, who endured despite the odds. RECOMMENDATION: READ this BOOK.
RATING - 5/5 stars
(review copy and eBook)

32 comments:

  1. I am always amazed how the human spirit can survive despite all odds thrown at him. This is another tale like that. An indomitable spirit can never be crushed completely.

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  2. This is the next book on my reading list..I have heard amazing things about it. To know that it was based on a true story makes it that much more intriguing.

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  3. Wow!! I want to read about this person. After enduring so much, he is still living a normal life, that is truly amazing.

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  4. Diane, I'm so glad to read your thumbs up review! I bought the ebook for my husband on Christmas (had it sent to his iPad as a little surprise). He's been reading it for a couple of days and says it's really good. I'll show him your review when he finishes.

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  5. I'm in the middle of this one myself. It is a good read - and an amazing story.

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  6. I saw this book and this one is definitely on my list to read.. Human spirit is something else!.

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  7. Oh my gosh, this sounds like such a harrowing story, but also one that would really intrigue me. I can imagine that all that he went through would have really scarred him. Thanks for the great review. I am going to be grabbing this book!

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  8. Wow, this sounds good. It is amazing what humans can endure and come out the other side of.

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  9. WOW, 5/5, that's pretty impressive. Survivors are the best!

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  10. Wonderful review. This individual sounds like such an inspiration...glad to know that the book lived up to its buzz.

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  11. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I'm currently researching similar stories and the bravery and stoicism of that wartime generation really is inspirational.

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  12. This sounds really good! I don't have time for a 500 pg book right now, but it's on my list for later!

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  13. Oh wow he sounds like such an amazing man! The tortures that many POWs suffered in the wars is so inhumane. That he remained unbroken is a tribute to his spirit and those who comforted and loved him afterward. Such a wonderful review!

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  14. I have only heard positive things about this book. I am definitely interested. So glad to see that you loved it.

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  15. What an incredible story ... this has been on my wishlist, I'll be adding it to my shelves soon. Thanks for the compelling review and advice to READ THIS BOOK!

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  16. I gave this to Tom for his birthday, and I hope to read it, too. Great review. One hundred and sixty seven books. I can't believe it.

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  17. What a turn of events for him right? I'm not much of a reader of war stories but this does sound fascinating.

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  18. This sounds like an amazing story. I've heard such good things about this and the authors writing style. I'm glad that you gave it a thumbs up.

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  19. It was due back at the library before I had a chance to read it, I think I may just end up purchasing it. Great review.

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  20. It sounds great, but wow, also intense!

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  21. I loaded this on my kindle this morning, thanks for the review.

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  22. This sounds so good! Adding it to my wish list now...

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  23. Wow..I just finished The Lotus Eaters and there were things in that I found disturbing but like you said we need to know what really happened. This is one book that I will read in 2011. Thanks for a powerful and insightful review of Unbroken!

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  24. Wow..I just finished The Lotus Eaters and there were things in that I found disturbing but like you said we need to know what really happened. This is one book that I will read in 2011. Thanks for a powerful and insightful review of Unbroken!

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  25. I'm really looking forward to reading this book once I'm back from vacation! I read the first few chapters once and loved it!

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  26. I've read so many positive reviews of this one. I will definitely be adding it to my list. I was interested to learn that the author doesn't leave her house and does all of her interviews via phone?

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  27. I've been on the fence about this one, but you might have just pushed me over the edge. It sounds riveting and I hope to read more nonfiction in the near future!

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  28. I just got this book out of the library. It will be either my first or second book of 2011. I can't wait to read it.

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  29. This was definitely the big seller this holiday at the bookstore. Fascinating story I didn't really know much about.

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  30. Happy New Year Diane. Just finished All Clear by Connie Willis. You would like it but read Blackout first and have All Clear ready at hand otherwise you will forget what happened. A Little confusing but a great read.

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  31. Sounds fascinating. I've added it to my to-read list. I've linked to your review on War Through the Generations.

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