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Review: "Unbroken," by Laura Hillenbrand


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This remarkable tale of survival through war has been written about extensively since it was published. Through the heights of Olympic fame to 44 days on a raft in the Pacific to the final, crushing years as a P.O.W. in a Japanese camp it is an amazing tale of attitude, courage, brutality and existence. There is almost little to be said that probably has not been written better and more completely.

Not the best book I've ever read, by far, not even close, but it is a historical biography that perhaps should be read by everyone to get a true sense of one man's life and also a more complete, and personal, vision of what World War II was like. Statistical fact, combined with the interviews and first person accounts makes for an incredibly moving story. I enjoyed Seabiscuit more by the same author. The details were engrossing and it is with some hesitancy that I followed the day-by-day recounting of details, wondering whether time, memory and the suffering involved might have dimmed some of the recollections. I assume that within the P.O.W. camp there are probably enough living survivors and guards to provide a verifiable account. The same would be true of the hero, Louie Zamperini's, early life in California. But I do wonder a bit about the days at sea on the raft with only one other living person, especially since there starvation and deprivation might lead to incorrect or misperceived memory.

Regardless, the book is an amazing account of survival, courage, and resilience on the positive side, and a recollection of horrible cruelty and hardship on the other. It will be remembered for a very long time. One final aside, as we well know the generation that fought and served in World War II is passing away very quickly. Each month, I believe, several thousand die. It is incredibly important in my estimation, that these types of stories be recorded, remembered, and passed on since within a generation, there will be very living survivors.