August 25, 2011
Unbroken - by Laura Hillenbrand
I haven't posted a book in a while, because I try to include only the ones I would recommend to my friends. Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, is definitely one of these. The book is the astonishing true story of Louie Zamperini. It tells the story of his life, starting at his home in Torrance, California, where he was a deviant kid causing all sorts of trouble until he began running. He became an Olympic runner, running in the 1936 Olympics. He was training for the 1940 Olympics when he joined the war, becoming a bombardier. His plane was shot down over the Pacific, and only he and two other crewmen survived the crash. They floated adrift for 47 days, surviving an ordeal that none of us can even imagine, only to be picked up by the Japanese when they eventually did reach land. He was taken to a POW camp, where he spent the rest of the war enduring torture, disease, and near starvation. The story takes us all the way through his return from Japan, and it makes me happy to know that this 93-year-old man is still alive.
His story is absolutely remarkable, and Laura Hillenbrand does an excellent job telling it. As she did with Seabiscuit, she writes a real history with the detail and pacing of fiction. It is gripping, and I was completely hooked. I decided I had to finish it before the trip, so I read the entire thing in only a few days. It wasn't hard to do, because I really didn't want to put it down.
Here's a link to the NY Times book review.