Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"'s Reviews > Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
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A solid and resounding 3.5 stars
The promotional buzz for this book focuses on Louis Zamperini's survival at sea after a WWII plane crash, and his subsequent ordeal as a POW in Japan. If that's what piqued your interest in the book, I suggest beginning with Chapter 12,(or a few pages before, so you can get the part about the crash). For the first eleven chapters, it's as if Hillenbrand couldn't decide which story she wanted to tell. Instead, she tried to tell them all, and did so poorly. You can quickly scan those chapters for basic background (I did), but you won't be missing much if you just blow right past them. If you're old enough to remember the 1930s and early 1940s, you may enjoy these chapters for the sake of reminiscence.

Beginning with Chapter 12, the book becomes more strongly focused. Louie's story sweeps itself along, and the author's presence becomes less noticeable. I can't call the story "inspiring," because I honestly think death would have been preferable to what these men endured. Louie himself stated: "If I knew I had to go through those experiences again, I'd kill myself."
So, inspiring, no. But AMAZING, yes. Such ingenuity, persistence, and unwillingness to be broken by their captors is impressive and difficult to fathom. They continued to suffer upon return to the U.S., because the mind and body don't forget such traumas.

Final Analysis:
Astoundingly thorough research, serviceable writing, and, sorry to say, apparently no editorial oversight. From Chapter 12 to the end, it's a four-star offering well worth your time. Louie the man is ten-star material! Read it for sure, just know that my less-than-exceptional rating concerns a need to cut a great deal of material from the book.
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Comments (showing 1-7)

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Carolyn thank you. I might do that.

Sarah Jo I actually like the first part better than the second part - it explained so well the psyche of Louie and why he persevered in his stubbornness against the protagonist.

Natalie You'd miss out on a key part of the story if you skipped the early parts. Hillenbrand does a good job connecting the dots between his early life experiences and how he was able to survive later in the ware. Those seemingly unrelated events gave him the tools and the mindset to overcome all the events he faced later during the war and are important to explaining why not everyone's story had the same outcome as Louie's.

Kristin I also loved the first part of the book and had a hard time with it the near the end. My Grandfather was a POW in Nazi Germany (and born to Germany immigrants, said to have been treated worse) and I knew very little about the Pacific theater before reading this. Louis' long term and violent abuse was hard to read, and his near-self destruction at home after all he had overcome to get there made me even more appreciative of our veterans and their experiences.

Steve R Advising people to skip the first eleven chapters is terrible advice: readers who don't read those sections will not be able to understand the experiences that shaped Louie and what made it possible for him to survive those terrible experiences.

Tamara I wish I would have skipped the first 11 chapters. Yawn.

message 1: by Lolo (new) - rated it 1 star

Lolo Engelman I am having a little trouble with it and am waiting for it to get great.

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