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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
4,5393201,056 (4.46)343
  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 343 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 317 (next | show all)
Awesome. Unbelievable how much a person can endure. ( )
  trinityM82 | Aug 15, 2014 |
I loved Laura Hillenbrand's bestseller Seabiscuit so much that I knew I would definitely read her next book. Fortunately the subject matter of Unbroken is something that draws my interest like a magnet. Many men in my small farming village in central Illinois enlisted and fought during World War II. My grandfather was one of them. While he was serving aboard an LST in the South Pacific, another man in town was a prisoner of war in a Japanese labor camp. As she did with Seabiscuit, Hillenbrand illuminates the life of Louis Zamperini, a man who grew from being an incorrigible troublemaker as a child to an Olympic caliber track and field star to a man who seemed to be able to survive anything that the war could throw at him.

As she did in her previous book, Hillenbrand draws readers in by her careful layering of facts. Starting with a framework of a specific decade for example, she builds her house, brick by brick, with historical data of how much things cost, what sorts of jobs were available to families like the Zamperinis, how other relatively unknown people were doing, all the way up to the roof with what the famous were accomplishing at the same time. By the time Hillenbrand has completed the house, the reader can open the door, walk in, and immediately feel at home because everything has been so meticulously crafted that we know how each piece fits into the whole. Hillenbrand has the gift of making readers feel like participants and not just observers.

Zamperini's life is absolutely fascinating. The way he behaved as a child makes it clear that this man was a survivor. He didn't like the word "no", and if someone told him he couldn't do something, he immediately set out to prove that person wrong. It's this attitude that turned him into an Olympic runner who competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and it's this attitude that helped him survive the crash of his bomber, being adrift on a life raft for weeks, and-- the ultimate test of all-- a Japanese POW camp.

The sections about his childhood and his competitive running are strong, as is the part about his early days in the Army Air Corps. Once his plane goes down, the story becomes riveting, and it's altogether too easy to forget that what you're reading is true. When Zamperini finally returns home, his nightmare is anything but finished, and some of what he experienced during this period is eerily similar to what my own grandfather went through.

More credit to Zamperini that he was eventually able to vanquish his demons, to be happy and to make those around him happy as well. He should be an inspiration to us all-- and Hillenbrand deserves thanks for sharing this man's life with the world. ( )
  cathyskye | Aug 9, 2014 |
Wow! What a workout! Louie Zamparini survives everything WW2 could throw at him, before and after. Hillenbrand displays her impressive research skills and crafts a story that I read in two days flat, hardly pausing for beer.
Interesting to read this so soon after Richard Flanagan's "The Narrow Road to the Deep North." Flanagan's book is a novel, whereas "Unbroken" is biography. Both deal with POW life under the Japanese. Both describe the horrors in excruciating, and sometimes nauseating, detail. Both move towards the redemption of their main character. Very different styles: equally effective. ( )
  PhilipJHunt | Aug 7, 2014 |
Gripping true tale of Louis Zambirini. As a young man he was a defiant, high-energy miscreant. He learned to focus his energy into running and quickly became the best Miler in the country. World War II intervened: Louie becomes a bombardier in the USAF. He survives several runs but then, in a faulty plane, crashes into the Pacific. He and two other men are adrift for 46 days. When they finally reach land, they are taken prisoner by the Japanese. Louie is then held in various POW camps where is beaten, starved and made to do slave labor. How he survives all this is the miraculous story of this book. Meticulously researched and footnoted, this is nonfiction at its best! ( )
  mjspear | Aug 1, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 317 (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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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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