Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) “On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War. The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenageer, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, 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.”
Wow. What a story! And I complain when I have a headache. This story helps you see perspective in your life. I had no idea what our troops went through as Japanese POW’s. I had no idea that many POW’s were even taken during the war. What they went through sickened me. The brutality of the captors was unimaginable. I compare this with a book I read a little while ago called “A Woman’s Place.” In that book there are a few POW’s that work in a ship-building factory with the women in the book, and they are treated so kindly compared to what our men went through.
This book is nonfiction, but is very well written. It does take a little longer to read than a good fiction book, but it is worth it. Mr. Zamperini is definitely a hero and an example of bravery, courage, and patriotism that we should all learn from. The things he and the other POW’s went through were horrible. It is a privelege to be able to hear his story and learn from it. I am so thankful to all our service men and women for serving our country.
This book, although a really good book, is filled with many things that are extremely difficult to read. There is language, torture, rape, fights, beatings, war atrocities, deaths, and a lot of physical and mental anguish. I know, it sounds depressing. And a lot of it is. However, there is also so much to take away from this book. There is so much to learn from these men and their bravery, determination, and courage, that it is definitely worth reading. I’m not one to search out books with the above characteristics, but I came away from this book with so much.
Rating: R (Language, torture, rape, fights, beatings, war atrocities, deaths, physical and mental anguish, and “physical intimacy.”)
Recommendation: College and up. This is way too much for younger readers. It’s a great teaching tool for WWII, but more for a college history course.