Jul 20, 2012

Review: Unbroken: A WWII Story of Survival, Resiliance, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (Audio)

Like many people, I saw this book making it's rounds in the blogging world and I saw the high praise it was garnering but I didn't think it would be a book I would enjoy reading. I kind of put it on the back burner of my mind until one weekend I was watching CBS Sunday Morning ( One of my favorite shows). They were interviewing a WWII POW by the name of Louis Zamperini and as it went on, things were becoming familiar to me. Finally, I said, 'Wait a minute! I know who that is!' I realized then that Louis Zamperini was the man from UNBROKEN. After watching that amazing interview with both he and the author, Laura Hillenbrand, I got right up, went to Audible.com and downloaded the audio right then. There was no way I was going to miss his story.

In UNBROKEN: A WWII Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, Hillenbrand chronicles the incredible life of US Air Force Lieutenant Louis Zamperini. In 1943, as a bombardier aboard a B24 on a rescue mission, Zamperini and the rest of the men on board, were shot down over the Pacific Ocean.  Only three would initially survive the initial crash and were left adrift, clinging to a life raft. For over 40 days they drifted with no food except for the fish and birds they could catch and only occasional rain water to drink. Ultimately, just two would make it off that raft alive, only to be captured by the Japanese and held prisoner for nearly four years.

Hillenbrand also tells about the family members of these POW's and how they coped with the news that their loved ones were 'lost at sea' and presumed dead. Some accepted the news, others refused to believe until absolute proof was shown. The title is perfect. It most definitely is a story of survival, resilience and redemption.

My Thoughts:

Typically, this isn't the type of book that I would read, but it is a book that I'm so glad I did. We've all learned about WWII in school, but after reading, or in my case, listening to this book, I feel like what I learned in the classroom was simply insufficient. Regarding this audiobook, the first thing I recognized was the commanding, authoritative voice of Alex Jennings, the narrator. I recognised his voice immediately.  Jennings is an accomplished actor with a voice that is tailor-made for this type of audio. It makes you want to sit up straight and listen intently.

Although there were a few parts that were simply too painful to listen to, I thoroughly enjoyed the trip back in history that is this book. I learned things that I probably did learn while in class, but didn't retain for whatever reason. I suppose that as an adult, history comes across a lot different than when you are a teenager in high school. Even more now, I can appreciate the sacrifices of all of the POW's and their family's in a way that I don't believe I did before this book. It is an extroridinary book.The statistics given in the book alone are staggering and eye-opening to say the least.

An interesting side note is that since Laura Hillenbrand suffers from Agoraphobia, the fear of leaving your house, she wrote this book without meeting Louis in person once - their only conversations taking place over the phone. Only after the book was published did they actually meet. In fact, Zamperini presented her with his medal from the war saying, he was only held prisoner for a few years, while Hillenbrand has suffered her entire life with this disorder. What an incredible gesture form an incredible American.

I would definitely recommend this book, especially to readers who enjoy history. For me, the audio was the way to go. I think I enjoyed the audio version more than I would have the printed version, but either way, I'm really glad I read it.

UNBROKEN: A WORLD WAR II Story of Survival, Resiliance, and Redemption
Author:  Laura Hillenbrand
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: November 2010
Length: 14 Hours
Source: Purchased from Audible.com
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Recommend? Yes, especially the audio version


  1. I felt it was a bit slow with the raft moments being the most riveting. But, I am glad I read it.

  2. Serena bought me this book for Christmas, and I really need to make time to read it. Sounds like he's a great guy; I didn't know about the author's condition, but that's a great gesture on his part.


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