Thursday, December 30, 2010

UNBROKEN by Laura Hillenbrand

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

I don't read a lot of nonfiction. I sometimes find it difficult to get lost in a nonfiction book the way that I do with a fiction book. In the case of Laura Hillenbrand's latest book, UNBROKEN, this wasn't a problem.  UNBROKEN follows the story of Olympian and WWII Pacific POW Louie Zamperini.  Really, this book could be broken into four distinct stories and each one would be compelling by itself. 


The book begins with Louie's life as a troubled difficult youth who found purpose in running. This newfound purpose brought him all the way to the Olympics.  Story #2 would follow Louie's entry into the military, the challenges facing him and the rest of our airmen during WWII and the subsequent plane crash that left him and fellow crewmates adrift in the Pacific for weeks.  Story #3 would be Louie's "rescue" from the ocean and his horrific days as a Japanese POW.  Story #4 follows Louie's life upon returning from the war as he struggled with his demons including alcoholism before finding renewed purpose in the work of Billy Graham.


Even though this book is a bit of a chunkster, I couldn't put it down. I had to know what would happen next.  It is a truly unbelievable story and opened my eyes to so many things about WWII and the fight in the Pacific arena that I never realized before. Hillenbrand has a real gift in identifying key individuals to interview who stories help to develop a well-rounded picture of events.  It's a  really wonderful and compelling work.

BOTTOM LINE: HIGHLY recommended. One of my favorites this year.  Great for history buffs but also for people who love a good human story about the triumph of the human spirit and the importance of maintaining one's dignity and humanity.

No comments: