Chrissie's Reviews > Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
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Aug 01, 12

bookshelves: bio, history, japan, usa, kirkus, text-checked, audible, bad-trip, islands, returned
Read from July 14 to 17, 2012

Too long ; needs better editing. For example, the time spent on the raft is just too long and drawn out.

I have a very hard time believing some of the events: (view spoiler) The sharks’ behavior seems unbelievable too…. The crews on the airplanes were given fleece clothing when they left for their first air assignment. Did there really exist fleece clothing back in the forties?! I just cannot believe many statements made in this book! Louis’ behavior as a child seems at least very much “exaggerated”.

Neither does the religious message professed in this book work for me. That Louis falls under the spell of Billy Graham put me off.

I much preferred The Forgotten Highlander: My Incredible Story Of Survival During The War In The Far East. And my husband concurs; he too has read both books. Obviously my husband and I are in the minority, since so many others have loved this book!
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Comments (showing 1-42 of 42) (42 new)

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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan I'm following this review so I will catch what you think of this. It's definitely on my to-read shelf.


Chrissie I will listen to it in the car with Per. Off to Sweden. he was laughing at Farewell to Arms, when he had a chance to listen. AND he guessed the end correctly. I had no idea what would happen in the end of that one! It blew me over. No spoiler here, if you change your mind and try it. You don't have to. ;0) I accept your hating Hemingway. I agree, The Old Man and the Sea was so boring!!!!!!


message 3: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan Yes, TOMATS is one of my few 1 star rated books here. I just finished a 2 star book, though I considered giving it only 1 star.


Chrissie Lisa, Unbroken starts very well. The writing pulls you in immediately. Swift, interesting. It seems to be plot oriented. I will not have any internet or atlases or such in the car, but I have my private encyclopedia - Per!


message 5: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan Well, yay for Per then. I'll be interested in what you think of this once you've finished. I hope you enjoy it. And/or that you have other books to read too.


Charlene Intriago I see you are listening to "Unbroken". I read it and thought it was amazing story.


Barbara It seems that there have been mixed reviews of this book, but I was thoroughly intrigued.


Chrissie I personally felt there was way too much that was way beyond belief! Clearly, not a favorite with me.

Gaeta, popular books often disappoint. Keep away from The Snow Child.

I didn't have time to write a more thorough review.....and it didn't really seem worth the effort.


Carol Perhaps this is a story that whether or not all is true, we just want to believe. It's the proverbial story of the underdog.

I'll have to read "The Forgotten Highlander".


Chrissie Carol, I question so much of what I read. When I run into things that seem wrong, inaccurate or clearly exaggerated, I get upset. I am a stickler of all the truth and nothing but the truth - particularly in a book of nonfiction. Then again, one could think this is Louis' view of the events......but couldn't Hillenbrand have questioned some of the facts?! I found bits so unbelievable; once I took that road I wasn't sure I believed anything anymore.


message 11: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan Chrissie, I so appreciate this review. I think I'm taking the book off my list. Some of what you didn't like I'd dislike even more, I think.


message 12: by Barbara (last edited Aug 03, 2012 04:25PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Barbara Chrissie, I appreciate your very good review and I certainly appreciate your opinion. I found the story compelling. Yes, perhaps some of the story was exaggerated, but I did like the tension. Prior to reading this book, I listened to a very lengthy interview on our Public Broadcasting System with Hillenbrand. She spent many years researching and writing this book. Many people have attested to the facts that she presented.So it was not merely a work of fiction.
I do agree with you on the Billy Graham situation, but I have seen so many people who seem to be hypnotized by such things.
By the way, there was fleece in the 40's. Pilots and crew had jackets and caps lined with it.

As I said at the outset, I do appreciate your analysis. We have agreed that we don't expect everyone to experience books the same way. You and I have certainly shared many good reading moments in the past.


message 13: by Chrissie (last edited Aug 03, 2012 09:07PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Chrissie Barbara, I am comforted to know that fleece did exist at this date!

Lisa, maybe people like you and I are TOO skeptical. :0)

It is now possible to return audiobooks to Audible. i did this with this one, my reason being simply that I disliked it.


message 14: by Jeannette (new) - added it

Jeannette You're up very early, talking about fleece! I am guessing the fleece we have now was different from the fleece in the 1940s, which I think was more like lamb's wool. Now fleece jackets are synthetic.


message 15: by Lance (new)

Lance Greenfield Pilots did get sheepskin jackets back in WWII. In the late eighties, my daughter worked in one of the factories which made them, although they were now for commercial selling to the general public at very high prices. The new ones are very stiff and need wearing in. Aircrew have jump suits made of much more sophisticated material these days, maybe they would prefer sheepskin!

Anyway, I digress. Great review once more.


Chrissie Gaeta, but fleece is made of plastic. Were they really doing that then in the 40s? OR is it that they called the lining fleece but it really is not what we would call fleece today? As Jeanette suggests?!

The episode on the raft, just went on and on and on and the unbelievable placement of those bullets - well, they required that I suspend belief. And the repair of the boat while they were still in it. I could go on and on - just way too much for me to believe. Then came Billy Graham......

Gaeta, that is funny about your usage of the jumpsuit.

Tone is perhaps hard to put in words, but it is very important. It is the words that make or break a book.

I appreciate the support you guys give me. I feel, well, the odd ball out with this book. I should be very use to this by now.


Diane D. I read Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption last year and I had to put it aside for about 2 months. I found much of the details while Louie was captured too gory, too detailed, too gruesome; while I understand the horrors of how the men were treated, I think a point can be made without all of that.


message 18: by Lance (new)

Lance Greenfield Fleece is sheepskin including wool. What you think of as fleece is synthetic plastic sheepskin!


message 19: by Diane D. (last edited Aug 04, 2012 07:15AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane D. Chrissie wrote: "I will listen to it in the car with Per. Off to Sweden. he was laughing at Farewell to Arms, when he had a chance to listen. AND he guessed the end correctly. I had no idea what would happen in the..."

Chrissie the end of FTA blew me away too! (view spoiler)


message 20: by Chrissie (last edited Aug 04, 2012 08:58AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Chrissie Diane, re A Farewell to Arms. I was totally blown over by the ending. I had no idea that would happen. In fact when my husband suggested it, before it happened, I said he couldn't be right. Well, he was right and I was wrong. I didn't mind the ending, although it surprised me.

Gaeta and Lance, I know that sheep's wool can be called fleece, but fleece clothing I always thought was the synthetic stuff made from plastic. I do see your point. I think I am just more use to thinking of today's common usage of the word. My mistake.


message 21: by Lance (new)

Lance Greenfield Trust me. I was a farmer. The origins of the word fleece in English, from vlies in German or Dutch, meant the woolly covering of a sheep or goat. It was used, inside out, for warm clothing. The wool on the inside and the leather on the outside. That goes back hundreds, or even thousands of years.

Incidentally, that is why the flying jackets were do stiff when they were new.

It is only relatively recently, in the past century that synthetic fleece clothing has been manufactured. The real stuff is wool!


message 22: by Jeannette (new) - added it

Jeannette Mary had a little lamb, it's fleece was white as snow.... :)


message 23: by Lance (new)

Lance Greenfield You took the words right out of my mouth!

Perhaps it was made of plastic?!


Chrissie Now you have me laughing. Point taken.


message 25: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan I've always thought of fleece as lamb's/sheep's wool, and now sometimes synthetic.

Don't know what to think of whether or not I'd be interested in this book. Until your review, Chrissie, I was. The religious stuff wouldn't particularly appeal to me, but it's been part of many other books I've loved.


message 26: by Kim (new)

Kim Don't forget the story of Jason and the Argonauts, from Greek mythology. They were sent on a quest to find the Golden Fleece. Everything to do with a sheep (well, a ram) and nothing to do with plastic!


Chrissie Lisa, We are stuck here on the discussion of fleece, but there is so much about this book that is off for me. The religious undertone, the melodramatic story presentation and my disbelief in the facts are aspects that make me not recommend this book. I cannot get around this. Conversely, many others adore this book. I am the exception, but I think once everyone starts praising a book many keep their mouthes shut if something seems wrong.


message 28: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan Chrissie, Although this book seemed very appealing to me I'm now thinking I'd be more likely to have the same issues with it you do. Of course, I can't know that unless I read it, but given how overbooked I already am, reading it is looking less likely for me, at least for the medium term future.


Diane D. Chrissie wrote: "Lisa, We are stuck here on the discussion of fleece, but there is so much about this book that is off for me. The religious undertone, the melodramatic story presentation and my disbelief in the fa..."

Chrissie, I agree with the last sentence in your message 32, and sometimes I am guilty of that myself.


message 30: by Lance (new)

Lance Greenfield Diane, Chrissie - I agree too. You ought to see the slatings that I received for daring to post a negative review of the supposedly wonderful The Magic Mountain!


message 31: by Chrissie (last edited Aug 04, 2012 11:31PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Chrissie It is kind of weird that people think their own views are so important. I am willing to voice opposite views for at least two reasons: 1. I know my views are inconsequential, very unimportant. 2. What is important is that everyone voices their own honest views so that all sides are reflected. I feel this very strongly; the value of GR is that every single one of us has a platform where we can voice our opinions - hopefully this will result in a more accurate evaluation of books. For this to work we must clarify our views AND be polite to each other. I find it very hard sometimes to pinpoint what it is exactly that I like or dislike about a book. I often know how I am reacting but I really have to think to figure out my emotional response. I award stars by my gut response; the review is an attempt to figure out the reasons behind the emotional response.

Diane, sometimes it just feels pointless to fuss, AND the bottom line is we question our own reactions. At least I often do! Few have such self assurance to feel they have all the answers! Actually it is such people who are the most difficult to talk with. Yet, there cannot be one correct answer.


message 32: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan Yes, especially with old favorites of mine, when I see GR members giving them less than 5 stars I have questioned my memories/opinions, but I'm doing that less and less often. GR is so great because we can see a variety of opinions.


message 33: by Hayes (last edited Aug 05, 2012 12:37AM) (new)

Hayes Great review, as always, Chrissie.

Lance Greenfield wrote: "... You ought to see the slatings that I received for daring to post a negative review of the supposedly wonderful The Magic Mountain!"

Just read through that, Lance. I enjoyed your review tremendously, and agree, even without reading the book, that it would not be one for me. Thank you.

And the slating was singular, however, in all senses of the word. I felt like saying to the slater: "It's okay, sweetie. Now come down from that pedestal before you hurt yourself!"


Chrissie Lance, I didn't comment on Magic Mountain since you have brought that to my attention previously. As I have said before, what is so good is that your reviews explains your opinions. However negative comments are to be expected if you open your mouth. One has to be brave. :0) make that a crooked smile. It is so nice that there are several of us who dare to oppose. It is not our glee to fight, but the need to bring all views out in the open.

Thank you, Hayes. You have me laughing about that one up on the pedestal.


message 35: by Barbara (last edited Oct 10, 2012 04:04PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Barbara Bibliophile,I'm glad that you clarified this further for others.I also mentioned this in my comment #15. The use of sheepskin linings (also in gloves) extended well beyond WW II. In fact, I would not be surprised if some people actually have garments with this today.


Diane D. Hi friends! Yes, Hayes, that pedastal remark had me laughing out loud as well! I do prefer when folks can just 'agree to disagree' on a book, or anything for that matter. As for GR, we are supposed to be having fun, aren't we? Lance, we don't 'slate' :)


message 37: by Bibliophile (new)

Bibliophile Barbara wrote: "Bibliophile,I'm glad that you clarified this further for others.I also mentioned this in my comment #15. The use of sheepskin linings (also in gloves) extended well beyond WW II. In fact, I would n..."

Actually a company called Searle makes BEAUTIFUL coats that they call "shearling" which are essentially a sueded version of the original fleece. (And UGG boots - the originals anyway - are also fleece-lined, with actual sheep fleeces.) I ended up deleting that comment because I felt like so many people had covered the ovine origins of fleece :P


message 38: by Jeannette (new) - added it

Jeannette Bibliophile wrote: "I ended up deleting that comment because I felt like so many people had covered the ovine origins of fleece :P"

I'm glad you posted about deleting your post, because I got an email notification, and Barabra replied to your post, but I couldn't see it!


message 39: by Chrissie (last edited Oct 11, 2012 03:18AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Chrissie Funny that these two different products, modern day fleece and the older one made of sheepskins, have exactly the same name. They are so different. My head fastened onto the modern one and totally forgot the older one...... You can laugh at me! I DO make lots of mistakes. Bibliophile, no deletion was necessary. Repetition makes thing fasten better in my head. ;0)


message 40: by Lance (new)

Lance Greenfield All - Get a real fleece and stay warm this winter!
;-)


message 41: by Bibliophile (new)

Bibliophile Hee! No worries - we're so conditioned to think "fleece" is the polyester thing these days (because the real sheepskin is expensive if properly treated or smelly if not properly treated!)

I actually haven't read the book yet, just picked it up from the "free books" shelf in my building's lobby, so I was checking out your review.


message 42: by Chrissie (last edited Oct 11, 2012 09:02AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Chrissie Bibliophile wrote: "Hee! No worries - we're so conditioned to think "fleece" is the polyester thing these days (because the real sheepskin is expensive if properly treated or smelly if not properly treated!)

I actua..."


I wouldn't mind a "free bookshelf".... May appreciate this book, but I didn't. Yet if one can borrow it free and if one has the time, why not?


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