Sunday, February 13, 2011

Unbroken, A Difficult Read

I just finished a difficult book.  Unbroken, A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption was written by Laura Hillenbrand, the author of Seabiscuit.

The book is the story of Louis Zamperini, a U.S. Olympian in 1936.  Zamperini was a favorite to go into the 1940 Olympics as one of the top running prospects for the U.S.  WWII changed all that.  Instead Zamperini enlisted in the Army Air Corps and became of bombardier in the Pacific theater.  His plane crashed between Hawaii and Palmyra Atoll.  Three people survived the crash by climbing into two inflatable rafts and drifting westward for nearly two months, fighting off sharks and starvation the entire time.

Two survived and were captured by the Japanese, taken first to Kwajalein and then on to Japan as prisoners of war. 

Great story, well written, but extremely difficult to read.  For me the author did too good a describing Zamperini's confinement, torture, abuse, starvation etc.  The majority of the book dwells on this, and there were times when the descriptions were so intense I had to walk away from the book for a day or two. It took two weeks to read the entire book.  In the end it was fascinating and uplifting, considering that Zamperini is still alive and living in southern California.  It was another reminder that humans are capable of some appalling behavior, not that I really needed another reminder.

I definitely recommend the book if one is able to tolerate the descriptions of torture.  If there is any thought of a movie from this book I'm not sure it could get past the censors.

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