Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption Unbroken discussion


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Unbroken Review

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Ramon Remires Excellent review


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The main characters in this book are Pete, Phil, Watanabe, and the protagonist Louie. Louie the protagonist was a delinquent that the town scorned and shunned, but he later won the hearts of his town. Pete is Louie’s brother, described as “handsome, popular, impeccably groomed, polite to elders and avuncular to juniors, silky smooth with girls, and blessed with such sound judgment that even when he was a child, his parents consulted him on difficult decisions” (Hillenbrand 7). Phil was introduce as one of Louie’s crewmates and is the only one that survived from his entourage, and is shown as a religious man and a devoted lover. The antagonist in this novel is Watanabe also known as “Bird”. Watanabe tormented Louie in the novel which left a lasting scar in the protagonist’s mind as not even Louie’s 47 day journey across the ocean was as painful as when Watanabe tortured him: “Of all the violent and vile abuses that the Bird had inflicted upon Louie, none had horrified and demoralized him as this. If anything is going to shatter me, Louie thought, this is it” as the torture from Watanabe destroyed Louie’s sanity and spirit (Hillenbrand 291). After getting stranded in the ocean for 47 days a Japanese ship captured Louie and Phil. Upon getting captured, Louie and Phil were tormented emotionally and physically. They were thrown into a camp in Kwajalein where they lived separately in a “wooden cell, about the length of a man and not much wider than his shoulders… The floor was strewn with gravel, dirt, and wiggling maggots, and the room hummed with flies and mosquitoes…The air hung hot and still, oppressive with the stench of human waste.” (181) Later on Louie and Phil were taken into different camps. Louie then ended up in Omori POW camp which was far worse on the count of it was where he met “Bird.” As a result, Louie lost a substantial amount of weight, gotten ill, and became traumatized. Furthermore, Louie is forced to stop running even with his passion for it due to his injury. After dedicating his whole life for running, Louie finally made it it to the olympics. To get to the olympics Louie trained on a cruise trip, ran in intense heat, and endured feet pain. Once he made it to the olympics, he joined the army as a bombardier and almost lost his life. However, that didn't stop him as he went on another mission, and had a plane crash which startanded him in the ocean for 47 days with his two of his crewmen: Phil and Mac. Mac unfortunately didn’t last the 47 days. This novel was filled with stomach churning moments such as the rough beating and the grotesque “foods” they had to eat for survival such as “lungs and intestines, assorted dog parts, something the POWs called “elephant semen,” and… horse’s vagina,” (Hillenbrand 241) but in those hard times there was a light. Even though Yukichi Kano was their enemy, he was humane towards them giving them candy, friendship, and more. For example, “Late one night, when Louie was walking back from the benjo, he saw the camp interpreter, Yukichi Kano, kneeling beside Mansfield, draping a blanket over him” (Hillenbrand 274). Every moment Kano was mentioned in was really heartwarming. Even though the vivid description of their food and living quarter is grotesque, I thought it was a nice touch to give the readers a glimpse of what Louie might have felt. If there was anything to criticize, I would’ve liked more information to what have happened to the runners that slashed Louie’s legs during his race, “He told Louie that some of his rival coaches were ordering their runners to sharpen their spikes and slash him. Louie dismissed the warning...he was wrong...Suddenly, the man beside him swerved in and stomped on his foot, impaling Louie’s toe with his spike...The crowd gasped.”(Hillenbrand 43-44). I would recommend this novel to others especially people who wants to give non-fiction a try. This book in my opinion is a gateway for non-nonfiction readers to give nonfiction a try due to how unreal Louie’s life seems, considering the reason why most people prefer fiction.


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