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Unbroken, A World War II Story

Updated on April 6, 2015

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

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand is the story of one man who went from Olympic athlete to World War II prisoner of war.

Louis Zamperini's plane was shot down over the Pacific Ocean in 1943, but that was just the start of his years-long ordeal that tested his life in all ways.

Photo Courtesy of Amazon: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

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

This powerful book is the true story of one man's endurance during horrible situations first in the Pacific Ocean then during his capture by Japanese soldiers. This is more than just a World War II story. It's a true story of survival.

Louis Zamperini

is a true hero showing

how tough the human

body and spirit can be.

Unbroken TV Spot

Louis Zamperini

Louis Zamperini was from Torrance, California.

Because of his speed at track, Louie was nicknamed

the "Torrance Tornado."

Your turn - Write a review, add a comment, or debate someone who disagrees with you.

What did you think?

Rate it, if you dare...

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An Adventure Begins

At the beginning of Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand superbly sets the stage for the story to come.

She takes the reader on a short worldwide voyage using the 1929 travels of the German dirigible Graf Zeppelin.

This vessel's travels touch on people who appear later in the book at their specific point in life, seemingly small players who make this book the epic adventure it is.

Laura Hillenbrand's official site - don't miss it!

Laura Hillenbrand also wrote the best-selling nonfiction book Seabiscuit. It was while researching it, that she came across the name Louis Zamperini. He was covered in the news in the 1930s along with Seabiscuit, the racehorse.

Laura suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and rarely leaves her home. She has low energy and a compromised immune system that limits her physical activities, but she has researched and written two nonfiction books that have been best sellers. This New York Times interview explores Laura's illness and writing life further.


"He was a very difficult animal. This was a horse who, if you pulled the right rein he'd go left."

~Laura Hillenbrand writing about Seabiscuit

"I identified in a very deep way with the individuals I was writing about because the theme that runs through this story is of extraordinary hardship and the will to overcome it."

~Laura Hillenbrand

More books by Laura Hillenbrand - Vote for your favorites, or add any I missed.

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

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 planeâs 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 lieutenantâs name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, heâd 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.Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.  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.In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit.  Telling an unforgettable story of a manâs journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.

 
Seabiscuit: An American Legend (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
Seabiscuit: An American Legend (Ballantine Reader's Circle)

Seabiscuit was one of the most electrifying and popular attractions in sports history and the single biggest newsmaker in the world in 1938, receiving more coverage than FDR, Hitler, or Mussolini. But his success was a surprise to the racing establishment, which had written off the crooked-legged racehorse with the sad tail. Three men changed Seabiscuitâs fortunes:Charles Howard was a onetime bicycle repairman who introduced the automobile to the western United States and became an overnight millionaire. When he needed a trainer for his new racehorses, he hired Tom Smith, a mysterious mustang breaker from the Colorado plains. Smith urged Howard to buy Seabiscuit for a bargain-basement price, then hired as his jockey Red Pollard, a failed boxer who was blind in one eye, half-crippled, and prone to quoting passages from Ralph Waldo Emerson. Over four years, these unlikely partners survived a phenomenal run of bad fortune, conspiracy, and severe injury to transform Seabiscuit from a neurotic, pathologically indolent also-ran into an American sports icon. Author Laura Hillenbrand brilliantly re-creates a universal underdog story, one that proves life is a horse race.From the Hardcover edition.

 
Seabiscuit: The True Story of Three Men and a Racehorse
Seabiscuit: The True Story of Three Men and a Racehorse

The true story of three men and their dreams for a racehorse -- Seabiscuit -- that symbolised a pivotal moment in American history, as the 20th-century's greatest nation found the courage to bet on itself to win against the odds. Now a major motion picture directed by Gary Ross and starring Toby Maguire and Jeff Daniels. In 1936 the habits of 19th-century America were finally consigned to history, just as Margaret Mitchell's "Gone with the Wind" was published. In their place, modern America was born. But what defined this new era? Nothing more than the story of Seabiscuit, a stunted colt with asymmetrical knees that had for two years been hacked around no-good race tracks leading to permanent leg damage. Yet by 1937 Seabiscuit could draw crowds of 60,000 and had more newspaper column inches devoted to him than Mussolini, Hitler or Roosevelt, his popularity peaking during his appearances at the Santa Anita Handicap. America had gone to the races for the first time since the Depression and fallen in love with a misshapen colt of great character. Now it wanted a winner. 'Seabiscuit' is also the story of three men: Tom Smith, a former Wild West showman was the trainer; Red Pollard, abandoned by his poverty-stricken family at a race track became the rider; and Charles Howard, a pioneer car manufacturer in San Francisco in the 1920s was the owner and financier. These three combined to create the legend of Seabiscuit and epitomise a dream for the emerging new America.

 

Update on Louis Zamperini

On April 23, 2013, Laura Hillenbrand reported

on her Facebook page that

Louie Zamperini shared with her that

he'd broken every rib during the crash in World War II.

He just found out about it recently

when his doctor took X-rays.

If you loved Unbroken, I'd recommend - these books too

I love Erik Larson's nonfiction books. He and Laura Hillenbrand write nonfiction as storytellers. If you didn't know better, you'd think their books were fiction. The language is descriptive, the story is compelling, and just enough background of the events of the time are provided to give perspective that puts the tale in history in a meaningful way.

If you loved Unbroken, I think you'll enjoy Larson's books too.

"Unbroken" has now been on the New York Times bestseller list for 100 consecutive weeks.

Thank you to all my readers, and thank you, Louie Zamperini!

~ Laura Hillenbrand, Facebook

Status Update October 17, 2012

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Amazon Affiliate Disclosure

Peggy Hazelwood is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Have you read Unbroken? What did you think of Louis Zamperini's story?

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    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 4 years ago from Land of Aloha

      Yes, it was sad in so many ways, but truly inspirational. What a person can do in desperate situations is beyond amazing. Makes me KNOW there is more out there.

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 5 years ago

      I haven't read it but I loved Sea Biscuit - that was a great read and a great horse.