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

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
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's review
Dec 16, 11

bookshelves: americana, biography, book-club, history, wartime, wwii, world
Read from November 25 to December 15, 2011

Two stars doesn't seem like enough for a book so fascinating and educational. My knowledge of WWII POWs and the Pacific theater in general has grown exponentially. But two stars is all I can give because I really really did not enjoy reading Unbroken.

The tragedy and the violence were just too much for delicate little me. I had nightmares. I was crying nearly every time I picked up the book. The whole thing is brutally heartbreaking.

I couldn't help but be reminded of all the stories in the news the last few years about Americans torturing prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Cuba. Until those thoughts surfaced, I was able to leave the story in the 1940s and assure myself that it was over. But really, no.

And then came Billy Graham and I lost faith in anything Hillenbrand had to say. I don't believe for a second that PTSD can be cured by listening to two Billy Graham sermons. I absolutely do not believe it. Dismissing serious mental illness as curable through magic is disgusting and harmful. Yes, Zamperini got better, and yes, his religious practices and therapies may have had something to do with that. But he was not cured in an instant. Someone is lying, or exaggerating, or misremembering (and as a Christian motivational speaker and missionary, it's clear that he has a motive for exaggerating all religious claims).

The whole religion thing threw a wrench into how I believed the rest of the book. I started to question things that I'd taken to be true previously. For example, the conditions in the POW camps are horrific, absolutely horrific, I have no doubt on that. But the way they're described we're lead to imagine that maybe 1 in 10 prisoners could possibly survive. Then at the end the author reveals that 2/3 lived! Impossible. Either the conditions were exaggerated or the death rate is under reported.
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Reading Progress

11/30/2011 page 214
45.0% "I don't understand how anyone can come out of this unbroken. I honestly don't believe it's even possible. I'm just 1/2 done reading, from the comfort of my sofa, and the story has already broken me."
12/12/2011 page 330
70.0% "Have to return the book to the library before I'm finished. Haven't decided if I'll bother getting it again."

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