by Laura Hillenbrand


It seems like everyone has read this book already, but it took a personal recommendation for me to pick it up, and I'm so glad that I did. Not because I enjoyed the story--this harrowing portrait of how people can treat each other was hard to read at times--but because I feel like I learned something, and have offered my respect by bearing witness. Most of my (limited) reading on World War II has concentrated on Europe, and much of it has been historical or speculative fiction. Unbroken introduced me to the war in the Pacific through the amazing story of Louie Zamperini. Hillenbrand's chronicle of Zamperini's life--as a rascal thief, a high school track star, an Olympic runner, and eventually as a bombardier for the USAAF (United States Army Air Force) based in Hawaii during World War II--made me feel like I really knew Louie--his family, friends, thoughts, and hopes. After much training and a few successful bombing runs, Louis, pilot Phil, and the rest of their crew were shot down over the Pacific. Only 3 men survived. They drifted and struggled for more than 40 days. And that's just the beginning--when they were found, it was by the Japanese army, and they were sent to increasingly harsh POW camps. The fact that Louie survived at all is amazing, that he did so while retaining humor and humanity is even more surprising. Well-researched, with hundreds of interviews, archival materials, transcripts, newspaper articles, court records, maps, letters, and photographs consulted, this is a portrait representing a time in history that everyone should know something about. Read this book to learn what the human spirit can stand against.


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