Book Review: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

January 7, 2011

“Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand (Website | Facebook) is the amazing non-fiction story of Louis Zamperini (Website| Wikipedia) an American athlete, World War II Air Corp bombardier who survived a crash and interment in a Japanese POW camp.

  • 473 pages
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781400064168


Book Review: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
My rating for Unbroken – 5
Buy Unbroken from*
More Books by Lauran Hillenbrand*

“Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand is a gripping, well written and diligently researched book.  It is hard to decide what’s more amazing, Louis Zamperini’s story or Ms. Hillenbrand’s telling of it.
OK, Mr. Zamperini wins – but by a small margin.

The story is amazing, but the prose is brilliant.  Ms. Hillenbrand uses a straightforward narrative without testing the reader’s knowledge of the English language.  Each sentence is plain, clear and understandable, which to me only shows that it was labored on rigorously.  The account is so descriptive one can almost feel themselves floating in the shark infest waters for a 1,000 miles with Zamperini and his friends.

But “Unbroken” is not only the story of Zamperini, but also of World War II from the vantage point a POW who was uncertain when the sun rose, whether he’ll get to see it set again.  The confusi0n which the men felt during their time as POWs only expatiated after the war, when they realized the political games being played by the world’s leader at their expense.

The book is divided into five parts:
Part I – where we meet the juvenile delinquent Louis Zamperini and his family. Always getting in trouble for breaking & entering, fighting and stealing, Louis finally finds his calling on the track and becomes a prodigy in short distance running.

Part II – After a commanding performance in the Berlin Olympics, Louis’ dreams of a medal get tarnished with the events leading to World War II. The athlete becomes an airman. Louis’ crew mates and buddies train for bombing missions on their B-24 and even have several successful runs. Feeling lucky to be alive they rejoice everyday until they are forced to go on a rescue mission (the plane they were given was not air worthy) and crash into the Pacific.

Part III – Adrift at sea Louie’, Phil and Mac survive and astounding 47 fighting sharks, hunger, thirst, heat and cold. They drift 2,000 miles only to become POWs.

Part IV – The survives are sent to the dreadful island of Kwajalein, known as “Execution Island” and unexpectedly sent to Yokohama, a POW camp.  Louie meets his share of sadistic POW guards, disease, starvation and slave labor.  However the stubborn man lives through the ordeal to the end of the war, all the way home.

Part V – Louie’s home, but the war leaves its scars, both physical and emotional.

Epilogue – What happened to the those mentioned in the story.  A wrap up.

Acknowledgment– well worth reading. The author tells of her research, interviews and more.

Notes – Certainly worth a glance.

Buy Unbroken from*
More Books by Lauran Hillenbrand*

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I won this book in the Gratitude Giveaway from The Fiction Enthusiast (Website | Twitter)
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account


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  • SharonHenning January 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    I’ve read other reviews of this book and my mother is currently reading it. I am looking forward to reading it as well. Thanks for the review.

    • zohar January 7, 2011 at 4:18 pm

      You’re welcome, I’m sure you’re going to love it.

  • lisa :) January 7, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    I’ve always loved biographies and this one was exceptionally well done – Great story and great writing! Nice review!

    • zohar January 7, 2011 at 4:18 pm

      Thanks Lisa, I appreciate the kind words.

  • Sam January 7, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Well written biographies are a joy to read. I think I’ll look out for this one and give it a go.

    • zohar January 7, 2011 at 4:19 pm

      Go for it, come back and let me know what you thought (leave a link if you posted about it).

  • Kate {The Parchment Girl} January 7, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    This looks like a pretty epic story. Excellent review!

    • zohar January 7, 2011 at 4:44 pm

      Thank you very much 🙂

  • Noia January 8, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Hi 🙂 You’ve been awarded the Stylish Blogger Award (by me)

    Borough of Books

  • Melissa Mc January 9, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    I received this for Christmas…but haven’t started it yet. need to soon!

  • Karen and Gerard January 10, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Great review! Gerard read this too and liked it a lot. Here’s his review if you’re interested: He read Seabiscuit by her too and loved it!

  • Jennifer-Girls Gone Reading January 26, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    I could not agree with you more about her writing vs. his life. Both are amazing, and I had a great time reading this book!

  • Melissa Mc (Gerbera Daisy Diaries) June 30, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    I totally agree with your sentence…It is hard to decide what’s more amaz­ing, Louis Zamperini’s story or Ms. Hillenbrand’s telling of it. OK, Mr. Zam­perini wins — but by a small margin.

    It was a brilliant book.

  • jenclair July 28, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Haven’t quite finished, but have been riveted by the hardships Zamperini (and others) survived!

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