Read: June 2020
Publisher:Random House (2010)
Pages: 563 (paperback edition)
Louis Zamperini, a one time Olympic running competitor and childhood rebel rouser, joined the Army Air Corps during WWII. In spring of 1943, his plane crashed into the Pacific ocean and thus his 3 year odyssey of survival began. Enduring weeks of open water and the sadism of Japanese POW war camps, Zamperini and his comrades do what they need to do in order to survive.
What I Think:
Biographies on soldiers and military life are often mixed. Though their stories are important and need to be told, oftentimes they come across as dry and very boring.
This wasn’t the case with Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. In Unbroken, we learn about Louis Zamperini, a man who would be called by many a deviant in childhood, who turns himself into an Olympic runner, only to be broken down as a POW in Japan, returning home with nightmares and alcoholism. The book flowed easily from one part of his life to another.
Hillenbrand could have easily bogged the story down with needless details about the war at large and how opposing countries felt at certain points in the war, but not her. She keeps the book strictly on her focus and the people immediately around him, occasionally adding familial details in order to make the agony of wanting Zamperini to come home safely that much more real.
This is the kind of book that that makes me wish there was more details about certain points in his life. It seems like Hillenbrand gave a lot of detail to the beginning and middle of Zamperini’s life, but little of his life afterwards. Of course, one can speculate about what happened with everything that you do read about, but I wish I knew more about him returning to Japan to carry the Olympic torch and about his nonprofit organization. Minus the longing for more, I find the book engaging and well worth the read.