Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit, is the true story of the life of Louis Zamperini, a famous athlete and World War II hero that I had never heard of prior to my reading. Laura Hillenbrand made sure that Zamperini was a name that I would never forget.
The story began with little Louie, the town terror of Torrance, California, in the early '20s. He wreaked havoc upon the town with ingenious pranks, theft, and some violence. In an attempt to turn Louie's energy into a positive activity, Pete, Louie's brother, convinced their school principal to allow Louie to join a school sport.
Pete began training a reluctant Louie to run track. Once he began to find success in running, Louie threw everything he had into it. He began setting school records, and eventually, national high school records. He soon became the town hero.
In 1936, Louie went to the Berlin Olympics, and though he did not win, he became a sensation.
War came, and Louie joined the military; he became a bomber. On a mission in the Pacific, Louie's plane went down, and he and two other men found themselves stranded on two life rafts. For forty six days, the men evaded sharks, Japanese gunners, and starvation.
They were picked up by Japanese sailors, and treated kindly for a few days, but were soon taken to a POW camp where they received the worst of treatment.
The story that follows deals with Louie's years in POW camps and his eventual return to civilian life, his seeming return to normalcy.
Unbroken is a brilliant work, and the most fascinating biography I have ever read. It was gripping from the beginning. It does, however, at times, deal with intense, graphic, and mature subject matter, especially in the events that occurred in the POW camps, but Hillenbrand writes in such a way that the reader understands these events without being traumatized or violated.
It is a moving story throughout, but especially poignant within the last three or so chapters. Though not for the faint of heart, Unbroken is truly the "story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption" that it claims to be on the front cover.
I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for free for this review.
Note: This book deals with mature themes and material. It is a book for adult readers.