Friday, January 31, 2014


by Laura Hillenbrand
398 pgs

Reading Unbroken now and writing about it makes me feel a little like a person who decides to show up at a party after everyone else has left and the host has already cleaned up and gone to bed--I know I'm little late. Nevertheless, people have been telling me to read it for quite some time, including a coworker, who talked about the book frequently and would describe it in great detail whenever he did. I finally decided I needed to read it now before he ruined the whole book for me.
It's both an inspiring and gut-wrenching account of Louie Zamperini's ordeals surviving World War II. Louie, grew up in Torrence, California and made a name for himself nationally as a runner, qualifying for the 1936 Berlin Olympics. By all accounts, if the war hadn't altered the course of his life, he likely would have been the first man to break the 4-minute mile. 
He was assigned to be a bombardier on a B-24 in the Pacific during the war and survived when his plane went down while on a routine search mission in May of 1943. Louie, along with two other survivors of the crash spent a record 47 days drifting west in a life raft, with little to no provisions and the constant threat of circling sharks.
Louie and one of the other two survived long enough to be found by Japanese forces after drifting about 2,000 miles into Japanese-controlled waters, and was interred in POW camps until the war ended. The book describes the horrors he and others survived there at the hands of his guards.
I won't go into details on what he endured. Suffice it to say, he experienced physical and mental abuses at levels that very few men could have survived. His story gives an insight into the depths of cruelty mankind can inflict on itself as well as the levels of endurance and resiliency it's capable of possessing.  
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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