Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

I have always loved to read. When I was younger I was a voracious reader, I would read anything and everything that you put under my nose. Since I don't have nearly as much free time as I use to, my pleasure reading time has decreased, and my time spent reading text books has increased ten-fold.

Concurrently my time spent in my car as also increased ten-fold; commuting mostly, but I have also been traveling a great distance via car as well. This leaves me with a great deal of time alone, and without knowledge of local radio stations. On one of my trips to the library for a book I noticed that they had an unbelievable collection of audiobooks. Enter my fascination with listening to books in the car and my desire to let you know how wonderful some of them are.

Picking out an audio book isn't like picking our a normal book. There are no covers to judge by, minimalist descriptions, and even the way they are stacked doesn't lend itself to easy discovery. I was at the library maybe a month ago feeling a little frustrated. I couldn't find anything that I wanted to listen to before an impending 6 hour drive to Philadelphia. I grabbed a few off of the shelves, checked them out, and began to leave. As I was leaving one more caught my eye, it was part of a historical display, and it was titled,
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.
It was written by Laura Hillenbrand. I had loved her novel about Seabiscuit so I decided to take Unbroken out, too. Well, I am so glad I did. The novel surrounds a Louis Zamperini and his life story. Hillenbrand's writing is so unbelievably real and her prose is heart-wrenching. At times I felt so immersed in the story that it was hard to shake what was happening. Zamperini is a hero and what he went through had the ability to kill a lesser man.

One of my favorite aspects of the novel is that Hillenbrand does extensive follow though on Zamperini's life. This is a huge pet peeve of mine of other books that climax and then don't tell you what happens after. Edward Herman is also the narrator and he adds a whole other dimension to the story itself. I listened to this novel twice through, and afterwards I was so sad it was over. I highly, highly recommend this book to anyone with or without an interest in history.

I've included the summary of the book below for those interested. This is also going to be made into a move directed by Angelina Jolie in 2014!


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 plane’s 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 lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, he’d 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 man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.

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