Title of Book: Unbroken: Author: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Author: Laura Hillenbrand
Publisher: Random House
# of Pages: 528
Genre: Non-fiction, History, Biography/Memoir
Summary: In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943. When his Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, against all odds, Zamperini survived, adrift on a foundering life raft. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.
Review (some general summary included, and if you want to know nothing about this book or its general ending, do not read further):
I started listening to this book well before I even knew there was a movie going to be done based on it. See, my favorite book is The Hiding Place, which is about World War II. Naturally, Amazon recommended other WWII books, and one of them was Unbroken. I thought, why not? So, I purchased the audio version with a free credit and started listening. I will tell you now that I had no expectations whatsoever about it.
It started telling me about a boy and how he grew up as a troublemaker, until his brother got him into running. He was an incredible runner, and he ended up going to the Olympics for it. But, just at his peak, the War started. America needed young men to join the army ranks, and Louis went. He started flying a certain type of large plane and eventually crashed in the Pacific with a whole crew. Only he and two other men survived the crash and made it into a life raft. They had to face weather, lack of food, and sharks. As far as anyone knows, he holds the record for surviving in open ocean the longest (I think it was close to a year).
Then, one day, they saw land. They knew that it might be the enemy, according to the path of the current. And it was. They had landed on Japanese territory. Louis became a POW and the target for one guard in particular for a few years. He suffered terrible, embarrassing, excruciating things. Things that no one should ever have to go through. And then one day, the bombs landed and the prison camps fell in disarray. Food was dropped from planes and he made it back to his family.
Everything wasn’t back to normal though. He seemed fine for a bit, as long as he could fool himself in thinking that his tortures didn’t happen. He got married. Then, the PTSD began. Nightmares, reactions to noises around him, binge drinking… It got worse and worse. He had a kid. It still got worse.
Throughout this book, Louis had questioned the existence of God, and even asked for help during his imprisonment. He assumed God ignored him, so he ignored God. I assumed that that was all the book would say about religion, because Laura Hillenbrand is a big-time author, and because lots of people question God. End of story, right? Wrong.
Louis’ wife convinced him that a Billy Graham crusade would have booze. They went. He hated it. They went again, but didn’t for the altar call. They went again, and something snapped in Louis. A light clicked on. He turned his life to Jesus, just like that. And now he has lived an even more remarkable life as a servant of Christ, raising a godly family, seeking out his captors to forgive them, and going all over the world to speak about his experiences.
This ending is what I did not expect at all. I had no idea that it was going to have a Christian message, and it has quickly become one of my favorite books. Style-wise, it was very well-written, informative, though very violent. It does have cursing, but it also seeks the truth. Life is not always pretty, white-washed, or peaceful, and the book reflects that. Overall, I recommend it to any adult.
This post was written by Danielle Bergey