Unbroken is about the unimaginable story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner turned Bombardier who’s plane comes down in the Pacific, miles from anywhere. Louis find himself lost at sea with 2 other survivors for 47 days until the Japanese find their raft and take them as POW’s.
The book opens with the background of Louis covering his rough childhood, through to his love of running and becoming an Olympic Athlete. You follow him through this journey as the outbreak of war sees him drafted into the Air Force, to the fateful day his plane crashes. The majority of the book focuses his time in the POW camps where you can only start to begin to understand how it must have been. Through detail and repetition, Laura Hillenbrand crafts a story where you dread seeing the words ‘The Bird’ on the page. Chapter after chapter the sadistic POW Camp warden does his worst to break Louis, leaving me wincing throughout. This is made ever more relevant whilst I read the book in the comfort of my warm bed.
Just as important are the chapters that follow Louis’ life after the war where you see the impact his time in captivity had on him and his fellow prisoners. It highlights that the pain and suffering doesn’t just end once back in ‘safety’ but these experiences lay deep within all those involved through to the end.
Although the draw of this book for me was his survival at sea (I had just read In The Heart of the Sea) I was very much gripped by the whole events that surrounded Louis. Unbroken really is a book of survival and resilience to the nth degree. It leaves you wondering how anyone can physically and mentally deal with such trauma, as well as question how anyone can inflict such things on another person.
I did find the first quarter detailing his background from an early age, a little slow, but it certainly added context to the overall story. A truly humbling story, I highly recommend this for anyone interested in true stories of human survival as well as personal accounts of WWII.
The book has since been made into a film by Angelina Jolie of the same name, Unbroken.
We gave this 4 / 5 Trees