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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
4,6003231,042 (4.47)344
Recently added bycalebsw, MisterDJ, private library, jstoll43, colic, kokonomie, ssschultz, lbmonteros, emabbott, jewortsman
  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. 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.
  3. 10
    Flyboys: A True Story of Courage by James Bradley (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: both examine prisoners of the Pacific islands
  4. 10
    The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Slavomir Rawicz (clif_hiker)
  5. 10
    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.
  6. 00
    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.
  7. 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.
  8. 00
    We die alone by David Howarth (srdr)
    srdr: Jan Baalsrud's incredible survival and escape from Nazi-occupied arctic Norway.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 00
    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)
  12. 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.
  13. 00
    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.

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» See also 344 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 323 (next | show all)
Zamporini survives 47 days at see on a raft, and years in a Japanese POW camp. Very powerful. ( )
  jewortsman | Sep 16, 2014 |
Amazingly-told story of an amazing life. Courage, perseverance, redemption, love, and forgiveness. The world is richer for having this book and the story it tells. ( )
  Joe24 | Sep 15, 2014 |
This story of soldiers facing the unthinkable held your interest from beginning to end. I found some areas of the book rather long and tedious and felt that the book could have been shorter. The central figure in the story comes across as a bit of a screw up as a young man, a tough man in capture,and a screw up again after his years in service and finally is redeemed in later years. ( )
  joannemonck | Sep 5, 2014 |
Spoiler Alert)
A compelling story that is hard to put down and then stays in your head long afterwards. Louie Zamperini had a difficult time growing up until his brother stepped in and took charge of his life. As a petty thief, Louie sure could run. His brother, using this natural talent, got him interested in running. Louie broke records in high school and college (USC) and finally qualified for the U.S. Olympic team to participate in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany. He competed against world renown runners in his events, not winning, but surely, a tough competitor who was quickly recognized by the world - Adolph Hitler even shook his hand after the event.

The 1940 Olympics were canceled because of World War II and Louie's hopes of winning events that year vanished. He served in the Army as a bombardier on a B-24 bomber in the Pacific War Theater. Louie witnessed the death of crew mates and friends during air battles and miraculously makes it back to base - shocking others because the plane was in such bad shape and flying on fumes. Later, Louie and crew are ordered on a search mission, which is flown in a rickety back-up B-24, the plane falls apart after two hours into the flight and crashes into the Pacific, Only Louie and two others survive from a crew of nine. The survivors spend the next 47 terrifying days floating on the Pacific - guided by the current - circled by large sharks - unseen by those overhead who are searching for them.

They are eventually rescued from their floating prison by the Japanese and moved to prison camps; where they are forced into slavery, beaten, starved and tortured, The author points out that POW's on the Atlantic front suffered roughly 1% of the prisoners dying during captivity...in the Pacific theater, 37% died or were outright murdered during captivity. It was a time filled with terror and no hope...afterwards making it difficult for one to understand how anyone survived these horrendous conditions.

After the war, Louie and the vast majority of other POW's turned to booze to help fight the nightly demons which visited them daily in nightmares. His celebrity status pursues him during peace time, awards are bestowed, speaking engagements schedules - lines are long, citizens who want to hear of his exploits during the war. However, the booze eventually ruins everything for him, including his marriage. Suffice to say, his wife begs him to visit San Francisco to listen to Billy Graham one day, On the seccond visit, Louie finds God again and turns his life around.

I can't say enough good things about "Unbroken,,," It is truly a story of survival, Resilience, and Redemption - demonstrating that where there is a will - there is a way! Kudos to Ms. Hillenbrand for bringing this hero's story to life. I, too, can't wait for the movie at the end of this year. As for Mr. Zamperini - I call to attention and slowly execute a hand salute to you sir. May you rest in peace!

John Podlaski, author
Cherries - A Vietnam War Novel ( )
  JPodlaski | Sep 3, 2014 |
Growing up, Louis Zamperini constantly got into trouble. In his teens, with the help of his brother Pete, he was coached to become an Olympmic level runner. When World War II broke out, Louis went into the Army and faced combat, then an airplane crash into the Pacific, a harrowing experience on a raft, capture by the Japanese, beatings, near-starvation and sickness. He survived it all.

This was another excellent book by Hillenbrand (I previously read Seabiscuit). This is very well-written, reading like a novel but sprinkled with many facts about the war. The story was compelling, suspenseful at times and emotional. I really enjoyed it. ( )
  gaylebutz | Aug 26, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 323 (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
Laura Hillenbrandprimary 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.
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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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