Unbroken is the biography of Louis Zamperini, Olympic distance runner turned WWII bombardier who flew in B-24’s against the Japanese in the Pacific theater.
The tagline on the book reads, “A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption,” and it is just that. Through her rich narrative, Hillenbrand who also wrote Seabiscuit, presents seven years of research in such a way you just can’t put the book down — and it’s a thick one. She so vividly tells the story of a man who seems untouchable in his youth, but a man who comes to experience physical, emotional and mental trauma beyond anything most of us can comprehend. A crash. Sharks. Prison camp. Starvation. Torture. The list goes on.
But the story of Louis Zamperini is not just one of tragedy. Out of the tragedy comes redemption — beautiful redemption and freedom from the demons of his past. I’ll leave it at that — you’ve just got to read it. It’s that good.
Here are a couple of my favorite lines.
“Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food, and oxygen. The stubborn retention of it, even in the face of extreme physical hardship, can hold a man’s soul in his body long past the point at which the body should have surrendered it.”
“When he thought of his history, what resonated with him now was not all that he had suffered but the divine love that he believed had intervened to save him.”