Monday, May 13, 2013

"Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand

I took AP US History in high school, but I don't remember much at all what I learned about WWII.  And what tidbits I do remember all evolve around the European side of it.  Sadly, most of what I know about America's involvement in the Pacific side of WWII comes from the 2001 movie "Pearl Harbor."  Yup, my familiarity with history is pretty sad.

After several recommendations, I finally decided to try "Unbroken."  I actually had it loaded on my iPod for months and months, but didn't start listening to it until a few weeks ago.  It was a wonderful reading by actor Edward Hermann (I recognized his voice, but looked over his filmography and the only movie of his I've seen is "Overboard"--funny I remember his voice from such an obscure and long-ago appearance).  

"Unbroken" is the life story of Louis Zamperini, a first-generation American born of Italian parents.  He was a hellion as a boy, causing his parents great amounts of angst and frustration.  As a young man, his older brother Pete trained him up as a runner, and he found state- and nation-wide recognition for his achievements on the track, ultimately forming him into an Olympic runner in the Berlin games of 1936.

With the onset of the war Louis was called up to serve as a bombardier and served several successful missions over the Pacific.  One sad day his plane was gunned down and he and two of his crewmen were stranded on a raft in the ocean for 47 days.  They were taken prisoners of war by the Japanese, and the following years of interrogation and POW camps where horrific and difficult to comprehend.  But the Japanese lost and Louis finally went home, believed dead by the military for years.  

His post-war recovery was gruesome, but he finally found hope in Jesus Christ through a tent revival by none other than Billy Graham.  He repaired his life and committed himself to helping troubled boys, much like his brother had helped him when he was young.

The strongest impression I got from this book was, "How much more can a man live through?"  I listened to the audio book, like I've mentioned, and it had a total of 214 tracks.  I kept watching as I progressed through the story as it got more and more incredible, stretching the imagination almost by the minute.  And then I'd see how many tracks were left in the story, my jaw dropping to see how much of the story was left to be told.  Again and again I wondered what else a man could endure and still survive.

I'm not prone to tears when I read, but "Unbroken" brought me close so many times.  The Bird.  That's all I will say.  This book will change the way you think about humanity.

Click here to read Micaela's review of "Unbroken."

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