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Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival,…

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

by Laura Hillenbrand

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9,267530572 (4.44)490
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)
Title:Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Authors:Laura Hillenbrand
Info:Random House, Kindle Edition, 497 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

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

  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 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. 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: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance 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 by Louis Zamperini (Stbalbach)
    Stbalbach: Louis Zamperini's autobiography published in 2003, with intro by John McCain.
  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
    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.
  12. 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.
  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
    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 490 mentions

English (529)  Indonesian (1)  All languages (530)
Showing 1-5 of 529 (next | show all)
If this book had been a fiction story, I would have put it down - cliches! There is no way anyone could have lived through what our protagonist experienced! But the way Hillenbrand documented and retold Louie's story had me spellbound. The chapters on the raft were some of the most gripping storytelling I have ever read and the cruelty of the Japanese to the WWII POWs was stunning and unsettling to say the least. ( )
  Mona07452 | Oct 23, 2020 |
Just started, will certainly continue for a bit, but immediately not so impressed with the writing and mish-mash of people around the world seeing the zeppelin fly over. Not so tiny detail, certainly off-putting, flying east, one doesn't fly first over Nuremberg, Germany, and then Frankfurt.
-- Well. Nevermind the above. This first section of the book, Louie Zamperini's youth, sports, etc., utterly pales against the remainder: his wartime experiences, lost at sea, years as a POW in Japanese camps, post war troubles and alcoholism, etc. This is simply one of the most powerful, completely unbelievable stories ever. As riveting as it is, it is also too much, almost entirely too painful to read. I am, seriously, left traumatized. Hugely recommended for many, many reasons; just so that you know it's hard going. ( )
  tmph | Sep 13, 2020 |
I registered this book at BookCrossing.com!
http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/12549013 An extraordinary story, written with great care.

Born in Torrance, California, in 1917, Louis Zamperini led a remarkable life, enhanced by his own fierce determination. On more than one challenging occasion he might have slid into a normal reaction or even given up but that wasn't who he was.

As a child, Louis seemed incorrigible: his pranks, his thefts, his vandalism were the talk of the town and the despair of his parents. Later, his brother helped channel that energy into running, and Louis discovered a remarkable talent that took him to the 1936 Olympics. His feats in the Army Air Force in WWII, though, were the stuff of legend.

After a crash into the ocean, his determination saved his life, but then his obstinacy made life in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp worse for him. No matter. He could take whatever they dished out. Admittedly, he was often a thin thread away from death, and only a bit of luck kept him on this side.

When Louis finally came home as a hero, he threw himself into speaking about his adventures and for a while this worked. But life in an after-war world was harder than most soldiers thought it would be. He slipped into alcoholism, despair, depression, all enhanced by PTSD. He was propped up by his wife for a long time, but ultimately had to find his own way out.

Zamparini is fortunate in having his story written by a person with a penchant for accuracy and detail. Nothing is told that hasn't been thoroughly researched, and the author has taken a back seat to Louis in that she does not overlay her own impressions on his or on anyone else's.
She lets the times and the people speak for themselves, and the stories are powerful because of that.

Another gift Hillenbrand gives us is a close look at the war in the Pacific. Most of us are more familiar with the European front than the Pacific. She also reveals the extreme cost in lives that the American airmen paid in WWII. I was shocked to read about the condition of the planes, the risks the crews took, the toll in lives given in non-combat circumstances. It is hard not to think that the armed forces leaders were far too casual in their use of men. I don't know what choices they had, of course, so don't take that opinion to the bank.

***sort of spoiler alert***

Toward the end, Louis has something of an epiphany, brought on by religious experiences. Ultimately he thanks a higher power for his successes in life. The detail in this part of the book is the result of Hillenbrand's detailed research, as is the rest of the book, and not a promotion of religion. While I recognized this I was still disturbed by the God theme. It's obviously part of who Louis is, though, so this is my problem.

( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
Well that settles it: I'll officially read anything Laura Hillenbrand ever writes. It doesn't hurt that she writes about horses and WWII, so that goes double. ( )
  beautifulshell | Aug 27, 2020 |
9/10 ( )
  mark_read | Aug 13, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 529 (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.


» 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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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
[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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.
Canonical DDC/MDS
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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