Julie Matthies, June 11, 2013 (view all comments by Julie Matthies)
I've owned this book for quite some time but put off reading it because I'm not a huge fan of war movies or books. I don't like seeing or reading about violence so I try to avoid it. But this book got so many good reviews and I own it so after bumping it to "next month" since the beginning of this year, I finally bit the bullet and read it. And I'm glad I did? I'm not sure. I think Louis' story is amazing and it is important not to forget our history. I know I'm in the minority when I say this, but I wasn't in love with this book. I enjoyed reading about his childhood and his time in the Olympics but then the author lost me. I felt Louis' story got bogged down with facts and statistics that didn't really add to his story. That section of the book was painful for me to get through. I almost thought I didn't want to continue. I was glad I did though, and then I wasn't.
The story really picked up when he crashed into the Pacific. But then, when he was captured, the story was filled with so much violence, I was back to not enjoying it at all. I enjoyed it again once he was back home and found how he overcame his emotional scars incredibly encouraging and uplifting. I ended up rating this book 4* but how I got there was a roller coaster of 1* to 5*s depending on which section I was reading. I do think the author did an amazing amount of research while writing this book and I do recommend it to anyone who particularly enjoys reading about war.
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dallard, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by dallard)
This is the best book I've ever read. Ms. Hillenbrand captures the events so well that I felt as though I was there with the most incredible man. He has set a standard of conquering my fears and dreams to an all time high. It's a must for people that want to read about true gut wrenching stories. I could not put the book down.
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damonp3, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by damonp3)
The true World War II story of Louis Zamperini should be an inspiration to every red-blooded American. A tough and sometimes troubled young man and a brilliant world-class athlete, Louis volunteered to fight for his country, became a bombardier in the difficult-to-fly B-24 Liberator, crashed at sea and became a prisoner of the cruel Japanese. The portrayal of his grit and courage by Laura Hillenbrand read like a novel and kept me glued to every page.
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Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
0 stars -
Random House -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"From the 1936 Olympics to WWII Japan's most brutal POW camps, Hillenbrand's heart-wrenching new book is thousands of miles and a world away from the racing circuit of her bestselling Seabiscuit. But it's just as much a page-turner, and its hero, Louie Zamperini, is just as loveable: a disciplined champion racer who ran in the Berlin Olympics, he's a wit, a prankster, and a reformed juvenile delinquent who put his thieving skills to good use in the POW camps, In other words, Louie is a total charmer, a lover of life--whose will to live is cruelly tested when he becomes an Army Air Corps bombardier in 1941. The young Italian-American from Torrance, Calif., was expected to be the first to run a four-minute mile. After an astonishing but losing race at the 1936 Olympics, Louie was hoping for gold in the 1940 games. But war ended those dreams forever. In May 1943 his B-24 crashed into the Pacific. After a record-breaking 47 days adrift on a shark-encircled life raft with his pal and pilot, Russell Allen 'Phil' Phillips, they were captured by the Japanese. In the 'theater of cruelty' that was the Japanese POW camp network, Louie landed in the cruelest theaters of all: Omori and Naoetsu, under the control of Corp. Mutsuhiro Watanabe, a pathologically brutal sadist (called the Bird by camp inmates) who never killed his victims outright--his pleasure came from their slow, unending torment. After one beating, as Watanabe left Louie's cell, Louie saw on his face a 'soft languor.... It was an expression of sexual rapture.' And Louie, with his defiant and unbreakable spirit, was Watanabe's victim of choice. By war's end, Louie was near death. When Naoetsu was liberated in mid-August 1945, a depleted Louie's only thought was 'I'm free! I'm free! I'm free!' But as Hillenbrand shows, Louie was not yet free. Even as, returning stateside, he impulsively married the beautiful Cynthia Applewhite and tried to build a life, Louie remained in the Bird's clutches, haunted in his dreams, drinking to forget, and obsessed with vengeance. In one of several sections where Hillenbrand steps back for a larger view, she writes movingly of the thousands of postwar Pacific PTSD sufferers. With no help for their as yet unrecognized illness, Hillenbrand says, 'there was no one right way to peace; each man had to find his own path....' The book's final section is the story of how, with Cynthia's help, Louie found his path. It is impossible to condense the rich, granular detail of Hillenbrand's narrative of the atrocities committed (one man was exhibited naked in a Tokyo zoo for the Japanese to 'gawk at his filthy, sore-encrusted body') against American POWs in Japan, and the courage of Louie and his fellow POWs, who made attempts on Watanabe's life, committed sabotage, and risked their own lives to save others. Hillenbrand's triumph is that in telling Louie's story (he's now in his 90s), she tells the stories of thousands whose suffering has been mostly forgotten. She restores to our collective memory this tale of heroism, cruelty, life, death, joy, suffering, remorselessness, and redemption. (Nov.) -Reviewed by Sarah F. Gold" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
by The Economist,
"It is hugely refreshing when [a book] as fine as this one comes along. The research is meticulous, the writing elegant and concise, so that every page transports you back to the period. . . . This is a remarkable tale well told."
In her long-awaited new book, Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit. Telling an unforgettable story of a young lieutenant's journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.
THE NEW YORK TIMES AND INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
December, 1943: A badly damaged American bomber struggles to fly over wartime Germany. At the controls is twenty-one-year-old Second Lieutenant Charlie Brown. Half his crew lay wounded or dead on this, their first mission. Suddenly, a Messerschmitt fighter pulls up on the bomberand#8217;s tail. The pilot is German ace Franz Stiglerand#151;and he can destroy the young American crew with the squeeze of a trigger...and#160;
What happened next would defy imagination and later be called and#147;the most incredible encounter between enemies in World War II.and#8221;
The U.S. 8th Air Force would later classify what happened between them as and#147;top secret.and#8221; It was an act that Franz could never mention for fear of facing a firing squad. It was the encounter that would haunt both Charlie and Franz for forty years until, as old men, they would search the world for each other, a last mission that could change their lives forever.
Laura Hillenbrandis the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Seabiscuit: An American Legend, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, won the Book Sense Book of the Year Award and the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, landed on more than fifteen best-of-the-year lists, and inspired the film Seabiscuit, which was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Hillenbrand’s New Yorker article, “A Sudden Illness,” won the 2004 National Magazine Award, and she is a two-time winner of the Eclipse Award, the highest journalistic honor in Thoroughbred racing. She and actor Gary Sinise are the co-founders of Operation International Children, a charity that provides school supplies to children through American troops. She lives in Washington, D.C.
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.