Laura Hillenbrand “Unbroken”

unbroken-coverLaura Hillenbrand is the remarkable author of Seabiscuit: An American Legend, and of course her previous work is also remarkable, but her own story will probably be a movie at some point in our lives. She wrote Unbroken as well as Seabiscuit after being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrom and suffering from such an acute case of vertigo that she wrote much of the manuscripts longhand while holding onto the bathtub and writing with her eyes closed. Remarkable.

That said, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption,  tells the story of Louis Zamperini, a Depression-era youth who is saddled with running track by a school principle and his older brother after repeated scrapes with the law. So Louis gets off easy, emerges as a star runner, participates in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and then becomes a WWII Army Air Corps B-24 bombardier. Then things turn the other way.

Louis and his B-24 crewmates ditch at sea after being shot from the sky. There are three survivors. Eventually, they are to endure weeks and weeks upon the ocean with no food, nestled into a tiny raft the size of a coffin. This is not the worst part. That comes later, in Japanese POW camps.

What is amazing, beyond the story, is the amount of work put into this book by the author. She does credit dozens of people for helping her with myriad details, but overall, this is a stunning work of nonfiction. It does not read quite as lively and free as Seabiscuit, but then again, the subject is much tougher.

Published by Random House, the book is 529 pages and a whopping 12610 KB. Originally published in November of 2010, the book has now been made into a motion picture. It’s not for kids.

As for the Kindle edition, it is $11.99, which is why I read the $9.89 paperback, sorry trees. On the readability side, it is long and very detailed, and certainly not lite fare. I could probably have done just fine with about 150-pages less. Still, you won’t go away unmoved by Louis Zamperini or the author.

FIVE STARS

 

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