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

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
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's review
Dec 02, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: non-fiction, asia, war
Read in April, 2011

I quickly reserved this apparently intriguing book after listening to a beautifully detailed review presented on NPR. I am eager to learn more about this man, Louis Zamperini, who rose from a juvenile offender to an Olympic racer, to an Air Force pilot in WW II. His amazing story includes the harrowing stranding in the Pacific Ocean after his plane crashed, followed by imprisonment by the Japanese.


Unbroken is a weighty book from many viewpoints. It is large,
filled with facts, footnotes and references. Despite this, the story is compelling and does not read like a text, but as a suspenseful tale. Although I am very familiar with particulars of WW II, both in Europe and the Pacific, Hillenbrand has meticulously related aspects which have deepened my awareness. In fact, it took her seven years to compile this work, including seventy-five interviews with Louis Zamperini,many, many more with his family, friends and colleagues. In addition she amassed an huge collection of photos, letters and other documents to attest to the authenticity of her information.

Much is known beforehand about Zamperini's earthshaking experiences during the war, but I was literally shaken and mesmerized by Hillenbrand's powerful narrative. To lie adrift in a liferaft in the vast Pacific for an amazing record amount of time, starving and parched, surrounded by sharks is clearly evoked. The experiences of abuse, starvation and other inhumane treatment in POW camps for years were chilling. It is difficult to expect anyone to survive the many harrowing events that Louis Zamperini did. But what was the cost to him and his family? Hillenbrand skillfully tells this stirring story.

I generally reserve a 5 star rating for very few books, but this author certainly deserves much credit for her intense,fascinating storytelling and for her careful, prolonged research.

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Reading Progress

01/04 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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message 1: by K.D. (new)

K.D. Absolutely My kind of book! If I can only borrow from your library ha ha!

Barbara I wish that you could too!

message 3: by Susan (last edited Apr 18, 2011 09:02PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Susan You're the third person, whose taste in reading I trust, who has raved about this book. I will read it (eventually).

Barbara It started slowly and built in intensity. I was quite moved by it.

message 5: by Maria (new)

Maria My father drifted in the Pacific, twice. I'll read this too.

Susan I've downloaded it on my Kindle, but I won't get to it for a while.

Barbara Maria wrote: "My father drifted in the Pacific, twice. I'll read this too."

Om'gosh! Was that during WW II?

My husband is reading this now.

message 8: by Maria (new)

Maria Yes. What stories the survivors had to tell!

Barbara You will have to tell me more about this!

Cynthia Looks like you did better with this book than I did.

Cynthia Maria wrote: "My father drifted in the Pacific, twice. I'll read this too."

OMG! I hope it wasn't nearly as harrowing as Zamperini's experience though just be adrift would be traumatic enough.

Barbara C, I think that everyone views books from different perspectives. Yet we seem to respect these variabilities.

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