Friday, April 26, 2013

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

April Book Club: 

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

I almost don't know how to start a review of this fabulous book.  It was great for so many reasons.  For me the best part of this story was that it was true! Absolutely amazing.  The author, Laura Hillenbrand, did a fabulous job with the research, dedicating 7 years of her life to study to build her understanding of the events and families involved.  I learned so much!

This is the story of the rebellious and stubborn Louis Zamperini.  Louis was a troubled youth always in trouble and even known for being a thief.  Despite his gruff tendencies he was adored by his sisters and loving brother.  It was this brother, Pete, who would train him to become a famous athlete.  After only a short career in running, Louis would become an Olympian sprinter and was quickly closing in on the 4 minute mile.

But the timing was all wrong.  Instead of participating in the next Olympic games 4 years later, Louis found himself as a Lieutenant in the Army Air Forces.  He served as a bombardier aboard the infamous B-24.  1943 would change his life forever.

His plane would crash leaving him and only 2 other members of his crew alive in a life raft with severely limited supplies.  Amazingly he survived thousands of miles across the ocean on the raft in facing dehydration, lack of food, sunburn, shark attacks, and attacks by Japanese gunners.  He survived, but only to become a Prisoner Of War when he finally came to shore.  He would later wish to be back on the raft instead of facing the horror's that awaited him every day in camp.  The POW's were humiliated, starved, beaten, ravaged by preventable illnesses, and worked almost to death.  That stubborn and rebellious Louis Zamperini refused to give in.  He endured every trial that was placed before him, sometimes with hope, humor, rebellion, or even with ruthlessness; he triumphed by sheer force of will.

Louis is an inspiration.  He endured a staggering amount of challenges in his life and used them to become an instrument for good in the world.  If we would all take a page out of Louis's book and overcome our personal weaknesses, leave the past behind us and move forward better because of it, we would live in a different kind of world.  

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