Monday, March 27, 2017

Unbroken/Laura Hillenbrand/400 pgs

This might be the only non-fiction review you see from me all year as I tend to stick to fiction. Unbroken is a biography of Louis Zamperini, an irreverent and high-spirited Italian-American who was on his way to what looked like a spectacular Olympic career as a miler when World War II broke out. Louis became a bombardier in the Pacific theater after the United States entered the war. On a mission to search for a downed plane, Zamperini's own plane crashed into the ocean. He, Russell Phillips, and a third young man named Mac were the only survivors. While Mac died at some point, Zamperini and Phillips managed to stay alive for over 40 days adrift on the vast ocean, only to be "rescued" by the Japanese and taken as POWs. Their time as starved and beaten prisoners/slaves was just as horrific as their time lost at sea. But both survived.

This is an intense story, full of graphic scenes about the horrifying experience of these young men. I appreciated that this story wasn't just about Zamperini, the more famous of the two, but included the heroics and fortitude of Phillips as well. As mentioned, this is certainly not an easy read but a worthwhile one to learn about the "unbroken" spirit of ordinary young men who went off to fight in World War II.

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