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Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival,…

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (2010)

by Laura Hillenbrand

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,031445691 (4.46)421
  1. 50
    Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides (phm)
    phm: Nonfiction but reads like fiction and tells of a heroic plot by US Rangers to rescue Allied soldiers from a Japanese POW camp.
  2. 30
    The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Slavomir Rawicz (clif_hiker)
  3. 20
    The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown (terran)
    terran: Both books deal with participants in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin and with personal stories of individuals growing up in that time period. Both are incredible true stories that read like fiction.
  4. 20
    Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath by Michael Norman (TooBusyReading)
    TooBusyReading: Another remarkable story about survival during WWII, about what humans can do to one another.
  5. 10
    A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France by Caroline Moorehead (srdr)
    srdr: A well-told story with similar themes…WW II survival, friendship under difficult conditions.
  6. 10
    We die alone by David Howarth (srdr)
    srdr: Jan Baalsrud's incredible survival and escape from Nazi-occupied arctic Norway.
  7. 10
    The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II by Gregory A. Freeman (HistoryNutToo)
  8. 10
    Flyboys: A True Story of Courage by James Bradley (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: both examine prisoners of the Pacific islands
  9. 10
    Devil at My Heels: A Heroic Olympian's Astonishing Story of Survival as a Japanese POW in World War II by Louis Zamperini (Stbalbach)
    Stbalbach: Louis Zamperini's autobiography published in 2003, with intro by John McCain.
  10. 00
    What It Is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes (TooBusyReading)
    TooBusyReading: Based on the author's experiences, starting with the Vietnam war. Gave me lots of insight into war and warriors.
  11. 00
    Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff (srdr)
    srdr: A gripping, non-fiction story of a WW II airplane crash on Greenland.
  12. 00
    Once Upon a Town by Bob Greene (cransell)
    cransell: An uplifting true story about World War II. Perhaps a good read after the harsh experiences in Unbroken.
  13. 00
    Road to Valor: A True Story of WWII Italy, the Nazis, and the Cyclist Who Inspired a Nation by Aili McConnon (sboyte)
    sboyte: Athletes and their experiences in the second World War.

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» See also 421 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 436 (next | show all)
I will read anything Laura Hillenbrand writes. She is brilliant. Louie's tale was riveting. ( )
  lkarr | Feb 6, 2016 |
This book opens with bombardier, Louis Zamperini, lying on a raft in the Pacific on June 23, 1943. He and three other survivors of a plane crash are starving skeletons after 27 days at sea. Sharks are circling their leaking raft. Suddenly, a plane is spotted. They fire off a flare, only to discover the plane is a Japanese bomber, which begins a strafing run. While reading the first two pages it's impossible to believe this is a true story. Leaving us in stunned suspense, the author takes us back to the beginnings of Louis' life.

When we first meet young Louis he seems to be headed in the wrong direction. He spends his early days burglarizing homes, stealing cars, and jumping onto railroad boxcars. While speedily evading the cops, his brother tells him he should join the track team, which eventually leads him to the 1936 Berlin Olympics as the man most likely to break the four minute mile. After Pearl Harbor, Louis joins the Army Air Force, trains as an air bombardier, and flies 37 successful combat missions in a B-24 bomber in the Pacific War against Japan. Then he gets unlucky. Shot down by a Japanese Zero, Louis and his two surviving aircrew ditch amid thousands of miles of empty ocean.

Taken to a Japanese POW camp Louis is beaten and humiliated with appalling regularity by one particular guard, Mitsuhiro Watanabe, nicknamed "the Bird" by the prisoners. As sport he was made to race against Japanese runners. If he won, he was bludgeoned into unconsciousness. A constant round of beatings, abuse, starvation and torture reduces Louis and his companions to skeletal zombies. You will shudder as you read the details of the brutality these men endured. Upon release from the prison camp, Louis returns to home a broken man. His marriage falls apart and he becomes an alcoholic. He can't seem to cope with life, and who can blame him. One day he attends a revival conducted by Billy Graham and turns his life around. While the first and last parts were not as riveting as the POW sections, I am still giving this book 5 stars.

I listened to the audio book which was masterfully read by Edward Hermann. It wasn't an easy book to listen to. The beginning, especially the time stranded at sea, was quite dramatic and fascinating, but once the action switched to the prison camp I wished I had been able to skim over some of the more sadistic actions of the Japanese guards. But then I though that I owed it to Louis to keep listening. All I had to do was listen to his story, while he had to endure it for over two years. While incredibly painful, it's probably one of my very favorite non-fiction books. ( )
  Olivermagnus | Feb 6, 2016 |
I love history...especially with regard to WWII. This book is an incredible story of survival of a POW camp and redemption thorough God. Louie Zamperini an Olympic athlete is taken to the depths of dispare as his life spins out of control on his return home from the war. A good read. ( )
  david__clifford | Feb 3, 2016 |
What an incredible story. It's both awe-inspiring and terrible that human beings can survive so much. Terrible because no one should have to suffer as much as Zamperini and the other POWs did, and awe-inspiring that it's possible to overcome even the most unspeakable experiences and live a happy, peaceful life.

I loved Seabiscuit when I read it as a teenager, back when I wouldn't have been caught dead reading a nonfiction book outside of a school assignment, so I knew I was in for another riveting read when I stumbled across this book. Laura Hillenbrand was the right person to write it, and I would love to see more from her.

Note to self: Don't read WWII-era books before bed if you want to have pleasant dreams. ( )
  AngelClaw | Feb 2, 2016 |
The time and effort that went into the author's research must be lauded. What an amazing work. I believe that these are the kinds of books that should be read in history classes. Provide the background to a war- politics, economics, etc., then tell the stories through the true experiences of the combatants on all sides. War is fought by humans, not governments, and the generations that follow should learn the human price. ( )
  MaureenCean | Feb 2, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 436 (next | show all)
The ideal way to read “Unbroken” would be with absolutely no knowledge of how Mr. Zamperini’s life unfolded. Ms. Hillenbrand has written her book so breathlessly, and with such tight focus, that she makes it difficult to guess what will happen to him from one moment to the next, let alone how long he was able to survive under extreme duress...So “Unbroken” is a celebration of gargantuan fortitude, that of both Ms. Hillenbrand (whose prose shatters any hint of her debilitating fatigue) and Mr. Zamperini’s. It manages to be as exultant as “Seabiscuit” as it tells a much more harrowing, less heart-warming story.


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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hillenbrand, Lauraprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Herrmann, EdwardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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What stays with you latest and deepest? of curious panics,
Of hard-fought engagements or sieges tremendous what
deepest remains?

--Walt Whitman, "The Wound-Dresser"
For the wounded and the lost.
First words
All he could see, in every direction, was water.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
This book is an eye-opening and awe-inspiring tale told about the horror of war and the challenges that some of the men had to endure. Featuring Louis Zamperini, this book describes some of the terror he had to experience as a POW to the Japanese in WWII.
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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--Lt. Louis Zamperini. Captured by the Japanese and driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor.… (more)

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