Mar 7, 2012


Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

My rating: 5 stars

Overview from goodreads: On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails.  As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.  But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.
Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion.  His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

Wow. This book, This is a true story. It's real, and raw, and overwhelmingly amazing. 

I read this on my kindle but I would actually recommend not reading it on an e-reader. There are photos throughout the story and because of how the pages were laid out I would see the picture then have the caption on the next screen, and have to go back to look at it once I read the information. Or I'd read the information and then see the picture on the next screen and go back because I'd forgotten who I was looking at. It would have been much easier to have been holding a physical book while reading this story.

Additionally, my kindle tells me the complete percentage of the book I've read. Well, little known to me, there was a huge index of reference material and notes at the end, so I had a skewed idea of how much I'd read the whole time. This might not sound like a big deal, but there were sections of the story that were horrible to read, and I just couldn't imagine how much more the men had to endure. At times seeing I was only 50% finished (when really it was more like 75%) was really disheartening, and by the time I was completely done, according to my kindle I was only at 83%. 

So. Don't read it on an e-reader.

That aside, this story is truly incredible. I bookmarked a lot of quotes, but looking at them now they're not great for a book review because they'll either spoil things, or be out of context and confusing. I kept thinking about my grandfather during this book because he flew planes during the war, (he flew "the hump" though, not in the South Pacific), and the statistics I read about planes going out and not coming back were heart breaking. 

This story also got me thinking about how soldiers deal with things after the war. PTSD is accepted more now, but these soldiers endured horrible things, then were dropped back into society - I have no idea how anyone functioned again normally.

I could go on and on about everything I learned from this story, but instead, I'll leave you with this quote:  

"Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food, and oxygen. The stubborn retention of it, even in the face of extreme physical hardship, can hold a man's soul in his body long past the point at which the body should have surrendered it. The loss of it can carry a man off as surely as thirst, hunger, exposure, and asphyxiation, and with greater cruelty." 

I highly recommend this book.

Have you read it? What did you think? Does not knowing how far your are in a book mess with your head like it messed with mine?


Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I read this on my nook, too, and would agree that it's better to read the physical book. I really enjoyed it as well and was shocked by the story and his will/ability to survive. I don't know if I am that strong of a person. He endured some crazy crazy things.

You know, my one complaint about e-readers is the inability to really assess how much of a book you have left. I never know if there are 30 pages at the end of author interviews and book club guides or another book sample or what have you. And I miss being able to see how many pages are left in a chapter. I know I could page ahead, but it's sort of a pain to then remember where to page back to. That said, I still love my e-reader, but those are some things that annoy me about it!

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

I have to agree with Lisa- particularly about not knowing how much I have left in the chapter- really bothers me!

Anyway, I also can relate to your issue reading this on a e-reader. I read the book The Invisible Bridge on my kindle, and I was saying the same thing to my husband- I really wanted to see how much more they had to endure because I could not imagine it (yes I realize it was not true but I get into my books!). I ended up figuring it out based on the dates and when I know World War II ended, but it was still a problem for me haha.

I think I'd like to read this book, thank you so much for the recommendation.

Amber @ A little pink in the cornfields said...

I really want to read this one! I've been meaning to suggest this for a book club for awhile now!

Penelope Sanchez said...

A tale of unbelievable endurance, hardship and heroism. A real page turner, extremely well written and readable.

Ketterman Rowland & Westlund

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