Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

by on March 21st, 2012
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand Cover Image

I love Historical Fiction novels but rarely read Nonfiction.  Recently I read a review about Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand that made me decide to take a chance and put a hold on the eBook version.  WOW! What a compelling story! I was immediately hooked on the story and rarely put my Kindle down until I had finished the book.  Although it’s not a new book (published November 2010), I decided to blog about it because I really enjoyed it.

Louis Zamperini grew up in a large Italian family in Torrance, California.  He was a defiant and incorrigible (but lovable) boy who enjoyed pushing limits.  School didn’t interest him and he often channeled his energy into petty crime, fighting and riding the rails. Eventually he discovered running and focused his energy into becoming an Olympic runner with the goal of being the first runner to run a 4-minute mile.  He competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, earning an 8th place finish in the Men’s 5,000 meter race.

Louis Zamperini enlisted in the US Army Air Forces in 1941 and trained as a bombardier on a fighter plane.  He was stationed in the South Pacific and when his crew’s plane, Super Man, was damaged in a war battle, the crew was assigned to a new airplane, The Green Hornet.  Mechanical issues caused The Green Hornet to crash into the South Pacific, killing 8 of the 11 crew members.  Louis Zamperini and two others (Russel Phillips and Francis McNamara) survived the crash and ended up in two plastic life boats in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  With little to eat and no fresh water the men told stories to one-another to pass the time and keep their minds off thirst, starvation, and the odds of being rescued.  Francis McNamara died after 33 days at sea.  On the 47th day, Louis Zamperini and Russel Phillips reached the Marshall Islands but were soon captured by the Japanese soldiers stationed there.  Both men were held in prisoner of war camps and were beaten and tortured. Louis Zamperini was never officially registered as a prisoner of war, and the knowledge that his family did not know he was alive weighed on him each day of captivity. Unfortunately Louis Zamperini was the target of extra torture in the POW camps because of his Olympic fame.

I am happy to report the book has a happy ending, although Louis Zamperini struggled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after his return from the War. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it for readers who enjoy Historical Fiction.  By chance, I just discovered Bobbie Ann Mason’s new book, The Girl in the Blue Beret, which is a fictional story about a WWII fighter pilot who is shot down over Occupied Europe. I love the “Advanced Search” option in OverDrive that helps me find Historical Fiction eBooks for my Kindle!!


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