Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Published by Random House on November 16, 2010
Genres: [Adult] Biography, Historical Nonfiction
5 Stars, Completed February 12, 2015
– SPOILER free –
Unbroken is a WWII biography of Olympic runner and American prisoner of war survivor, Louie Zamperini. Hillenbrand beautifully crafts this story by, suitably, splitting Louie’s life into parts. The first part explores Louie boyhood full of mischief, troublemaking, and rebellion to the beginnings of his track career (Olympics included). The second part delves into his time during his enlistment in the U.S. Army Air Corps and adjustment to life at war. The third goes in great detail about the B-26 bomber’s crash, the 47 days lost at sea, and his hardships as a POW at the Japanese prison camps. And in the fourth and final part, Hillenbrand gives the readers a glimpse of Louie’s struggle of adjusting to civilian life after the end of the war and how he finds an end to the psychological war his mind battles long after the Second World War.
Through the help of Hillenbrand’s writing style with a myriad of imagery, the story becomes so vivid and compelling to read even for readers that don’t usually pick up historical works. Through flipping the pages the readers easily are consumed by Louie’s struggles he endures in his life, so much that you sometimes find yourself screaming in frustration or want to strangle the Bird yourself (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve read it). Hillenbrand also strengthens her credibility through the many references, statistics, and footnotes to show her extensive research as an author. However, like any secondary source, some statistics and accounts are easily outdated from when it was researched (since details about history is always being changed or corrected) or interpreted wrong. Hillenbrand is a writer interested in history, but that doesn’t make her a historian making some of the researched details possibly inaccurate. I also read Hillenbrand’s acknowledgements and a lot of people were involved in the writing of this novel, but even with the collaborations it can’t make this work perfect. But unlike other reviewers that found this book to be flawed because of this aspect, I found that Hillenbrand made this as credible as she could, as a writer. And this is a biographical nonfiction novel, making some events possibly exaggerated in narration, but I could easily say this for almost any historical work not just this one in particular.
Despite this one small observation, no one can deny Louie Zamperini’s amazing life journey. In no aspect was this an easy read. It took me a good 3 weeks to soak in every detail of the Great Zamperini’s life (even though a lot must have been omitted). And through some tears, especially when moments of valor the men that served during the war arose and the times Louie had to endure such torture and brutality in the prison camps, I was able to finish this book. And even though I can’t vouch for how historically accurate some of the facts are since I’m no history buff, I still give this book 5 stars. It was too enjoyable of a read and it couldn’t have been executed any better than how Hillenbrand approached it. Despite whether readers of Unbroken liked it or not, I’m sure we all can agree that the Great Zamperini is one admirable man.