Thursday, February 16, 2012
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Unbroken is the story of Louie Zamperini, a runner who made it to the 1936 Olympics despite himself. Louie was a bit of a wild child growing up, and even once he dedicated himself to his running, he had to work to keep his effervescence in check. At uncertain odds after the Olympics, Louie joins the Army Air Force, washes out, and then finds himself back aboard when World War II calls. He is stationed in Hawaii where he sees combat, often losing friends and colleagues to the reality of war. But it is once his own plane goes down over the Pacific that the real story begins: Louie and two other men find themselves adrift on the ocean in nothing but a life raft with almost no resources. Their experiences are something out of a horror movie, and it is only just beginning to get bad when the men are captured by the Japanese after nearly 6 weeks. The stories of Louie's and the other POW's inhumane treatment as captives of the Japanese are too horrible to imagine, with many not making it out alive. So why Louie? Why should he survive the carnage, the brutality, the deprivation?
There is so, so much more that could be said about this unbelievable story, and I am convinced that others have stated its worth much more eloquently than I could. Looking at this book from a writing standpoint, I don't think the story could have been told in a more compelling way; Ms. Hillenbrand did her research and brings the life of Louie Zamperini alive with her words. I found myself thinking about this book all the time while reading it, asking others if they had read it and sharing how profoundly it has affected me with anyone who will listen. The incredible journey Louie faced, not just through his POW years but beyond, has left me reeling with the ability of a human spirit to recover from unimaginable evil. I will treasure this book and continue to refer to it, especially when my own life takes its trivial downturns. I just cannot recommend it highly enough. Read it; savor it; give it to everyone you know. And then do it again.