by Laura Hillenbrand

Gail Reid (05/21/13): When Louie Zamperini becomes an Olympic miler and turns his life around from a southern California hooligan, one can only applaud such accomplishment. But this feat is modest in comparison to his unimaginable endurance and tenacity during 40+ days on a raft in the Pacific during World War II. Louie is rescued but captured by the Japanese and imprisoned as a POW in unbelievable squalor, torture and humiliation.

This is a remarkable story of an even more remarkable hero. It is no surprise that the book has been on the bestseller's list for more than 2 years. Hillenbrand's research, which took some 7 years, is incredibly exhaustive.

It is for this reason that I found "Unbroken" to be a dry read. Although the story is captivating, the attention to small details and minutiae often bogged down the flow of the book for me. Parts of it dragged but it did not stop me from learning a great deal about history, World War II, and POWs in Japan.
Rating: ***

Judy Stanton (01/10/13): Laura Hillenbrand has done an outstanding job of thoroughly researching one soldier's experience during WWII, as attested to by 66 pages of bibliography: OMG, a college research paper on steroids...but eminently more readable.

While the story is factual, it is still, in parts, hard to believe....that someone could survive 40+ days at sea; years of what appeared to be daily emotional, physical and verbal abuse in a POW camp; and, most of all, that Louis Zamperini could, at the end, so totally forgive and accept those who had tortured him. He puts the reality "survivor" shows to shame. No doubt, he was an unusual individual and, certainly not a saint, but someone whose life experiences go above and beyond the norm. I admit to skimming over some sections in the POW camps, I had a hard time enduring just the reading of it, I can't imagine the actual living through it. I liked the Epilogue, the honest portrayal of soldiers who served with Louie, those who went back to war and disappeared, those who were not able to live with their past, and those who felt unappreciated. It seems to be the "American way" to fixate on one individual as the "star" who gets all the recognition for something that so many others also quietly endured. But, if ever a soldier were to be selected to demonstrate an unbelievable will to live and overcome obstacles, Louis Zamperini was certainly a great choice.
Rating: ****

Wanda Cohen (09/10/12): I just finished this book and as I sit here typing this review I feel almost unworthy of "grading" such an extensive, exhaustive collection of research that Laura turned into an amazing, readable book. Like any book that deals with tough subjects, I am reluctant to say that I enjoyed it but I did. It brings such depth and reality to a dark time in our world history. I will say that I was uninformed about many of the facts Laura weaved seamlessly into the telling of the life story of Louis Zamperini.

Louis exemplifies the meaning of Hero in so many ways and yet he is very human with faults and troubles along with his strength and determination. He lives his dreams and his nightmares within these pages and we live them with him. I applaud Louis for living this amazing life and Laura for sharing it. This should be required reading for any WWII history class.
Rating: ****

Linda Schulte (01/15/12): It was difficult to continue reading this book at times, and the recounting of Louis Zamperini's survival at sea and as a World War II POW brought me to tears and angered me so much that I almost gave up. Unbroken shows the reader the overwhelming power of the human mind and spirit. And then, it points out our ultimate dependence on the love and redemption of God.

This book isn't an easy read by any means, but you won't regret your emotional journey back to an important time in American history.
Rating: *****

Teresa Joel: This is an intimate tale of one brave man's story of his quest to survive despite all odds being against him. Louis Zamperini's story starts with his delinquent childhood, carries through his teenage and college years, which carry him to the 1936 Olympics and his quest to break the 4:00 mile. His formative years mold him into a headstrong and willful Air Force bombardier, and ultimately serve him to endure 40 days lost at sea and over two years in Japanese POW camps. This spellbinding true story is more gripping, inspirational, and heartbreaking than any fictional story 'Ive read.

The author, Laura Hillenbrand, penned the novel Seabiscuit, and wrote this story over seven years while suffering from debilitating chronic fatigue syndrome.
Rating: *****

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