In the event that you have been living under a rock (like me!) and haven’t heard about this book, I’m super excited to introduce it to you. Unbroken is an historical account of one WWII POW that is simultaneously enthralling, appalling, inspiring, and staggering.
On a May afternoon in 1943, the crash of lieutenant Louis Zamperini’s B-24 Bomber (I think that’s the number…I don’t know how anyone keeps the numbers of planes straight) into the Pacific began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.
But his story did not begin there. Louie’s story (and his character) began as all stories do, in childhood. As a child, Louie was given the nickname “Terror of Torrance,” (his California hometown). He was full of mischief and cunning. He was an incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and running away from home. It was this fortitude, creativity and indomitable attitude that contributed to his survival.
As a teenager, Louie channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that took him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.
But when the United States entered the Second World War, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and an atrocious experience in a Japanese concentration camp.
Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. Louie is the perfect example of a person who could find Silver Linings in the deepest and darkest places.
In Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand did an elegant and eloquent job of reminding me that surviving POW camps required a combination of willpower, subterfuge and sabotage, and occasional fortuitous intervention. I am grateful for this new perspective on the POW experience.
The word Unbroken in and of itself has given me a great deal of personal perspective as well. While I certainly feel a little cracked around the edges, I certainly do not…and will not be broken. I will remain Unbroken (Silver Lining).
I can’t recommend this book highly enough!