Unbroken : a World War II story of survival, resilience, and redemption

unbrokenIt has been a month since I posted and I have been so isolated that it feels like I have been floating on a raft in the middle of the ocean.

Wait, no it doesn’t.  Because after reading Laura Hillenbrand’s book Unbroken:A World War II story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption I now know what it feels like to float on the ocean for a month or more because at one point the hero of the book, Louis Zamperini, floats on a raft for 47 days after his plane is shot down.

For those readers who are inclined to pay attention to subtitles, the idea that this is going to be a marathon of woe should not come as a surprise.  I could recount all the adventures that befell Louis but is not that the book’s job?  I will reveal this:  the good stuff pretty much ends at the point where after much trial and tribulation, the young Louis has improved his outlook on life and raised his athletic ability to the point where he could be a Olympic representative for his country.

Then WWII comes along and things do not go so well for Louis from that point on.

The challenge to an author like Hillenbrand is to recount this tale of woe without it becoming an unbelievable tale of sorrow.  That does not happen here because the author is a good writer and because her subject is a cross between God’s Job and Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke.

Perhaps the real test of the work is whether the reading audience believes in Louis and his attempts to redeem his life.  In order to not make that decision all by yourself in the middle of an ocean, I would suggest it is time to put this one on the narrative non-fiction book discussion list.





About the Author:

Gary Niebuhr is the author of Make Mine a Mystery (2003), Caught up in Crime (2009), and other readers' guides to mystery and detective fiction. He was a Booklist contributor from 2008-2014.

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