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

by Laura Hillenbrand

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
11,079570528 (4.44)500
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)
  1. 50
    Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II's Greatest Rescue Mission 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 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.
  3. 30
    The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Sławomir Rawicz (clif_hiker)
  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. 20
    Flyboys: A True Story of Courage by James Bradley (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: both examine prisoners of the Pacific islands
  6. 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)
  7. 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.
  8. 10
    Devil at My Heels by Louis Zamperini (Stbalbach)
    Stbalbach: Louis Zamperini's autobiography published in 2003, with intro by John McCain.
  9. 10
    We Die Alone: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance by David Howarth (srdr)
    srdr: Jan Baalsrud's incredible survival and escape from Nazi-occupied arctic Norway.
  10. 11
    So Close to Home: A True Story of an American Family's Fight for Survival During World War II by Michael J. Tougias (Othemts)
  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
    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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
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» See also 500 mentions

English (569)  Indonesian (1)  All languages (570)
Showing 1-5 of 569 (next | show all)
Very much enjoyed most of the book I found I was pretty well engaged throughout most of the book but once the war was over and I listened for several more hours about the aftermath - particularly the Billy Graham portions - I found my interest nearly non-existent. 
 
Truly what these men went through was harrowing and it would have been impossible for any of them to have even a glimmer of a peaceful recovery. 
 
The writing was good, as one would expect from this author, but there were many things that were repeated and, after a while, I felt like the book was overly long. 
 
Overall, I'm happy I read it and my interest in all things WWII has been rekindled. 

I'd go 3.5 ( )
  amcheri | Jan 5, 2023 |
Detailed story about a man with an amazing life. Not my kind of book, and I wouldn't have read it if it hadn't been for my book club, but I'm glad to have finished it. Can't believe how some people can overcome anything put in their path. ( )
  steve02476 | Jan 3, 2023 |
Not a book I'd normally be drawn to (war, POW stories are not my thing), but this was an incredible book about a truly amazing man who endured more than most people could ever imagine. Highly recommend. ( )
  eringill | Dec 25, 2022 |
Great story of Olympic athlete,Louis Zamperini, who survived over a month at sea after his B-24 crashed in the Pacific during WWII and then survived horrific POW experiences on an island and in Japan up until the war ended. Best part is toward the end where he gets forgiveness in his heart through a Christian conversion, which the movie totally skips. I read the same basic story in a biography two or three years ago (Devil at My Heels), but this one's better. ( )
  kslade | Dec 8, 2022 |
What an astonishing book Laura Hillenbrand has written, about the experiences of a world-class American runner who winds up in a Japanese POW camp during World War II. Louie Zamperini was a wild boy growing up in early 20th-century California until he discovered his talent for running. He channeled his energies into reaching ever-higher athletic goals, including competing (though not winning) at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Louie is training for the 1940 Olympics when World War II breaks out; he joins the Army Air Corps and eventually is sent to the Pacific theater after Pearl Harbor. He survives a number of harrowing close calls, but when his bomber crashes into the Pacific with only himself and two other men surviving on a life raft, it seems his luck has finally run out. What follows is an unbelievable story of survival — survival for weeks at sea, survival in a series of Japanese POW camps, and survival over the demons that haunt him even after he returns home. An unforgettable story about an unforgettable man. ( )
  rosalita | Nov 8, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 569 (next | show all)
"Anyone who enjoyed Hillenbrand's previous book, Seabiscuit, will know that she has a fine line in compelling narrative. Unbroken is no different: meticulously researched and powerful. The reader, unlike the airmen, would rather the days adrift went on longer. They end, however, in grim style. Zamperini and fellow survivor are in sight of land when they are captured by Japanese forces. The Red Cross, however, is never informed and the two are declared dead."
 
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.

 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hillenbrand, Lauraprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Herrmann, EdwardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Panodal, Jean-FrançoisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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"
Dedication
For the wounded and the lost.
First words
[Preface] All he could see, in every direction, was water. It was June 22, 1943. Somewhere on the Pacific Ocean, American military airman and Olympic runner Louie Zamperini lay on a small raft, drifting.
In the predawn darkness of August 26, 1929, in the back bedroom of a small house in Torrance, California, a twelve-year-old boy sat up in bed, listening.
[Epilogue] On a June day in 1952, just off a winding road in California's San Gabriel Mountains, a mess of boys tumbled out of a truck and stood blinking in the sunshine.
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Disambiguation notice
Do not combine with Unbroken (The Young Adult Adaptation): An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive.
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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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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.

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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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