On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the planes bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.Read more...
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On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the planes bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.
The lieutenants name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, hed been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.
Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.
In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit. Telling an unforgettable story of a mans journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.
- ISBN-13: 9781400064168
- ISBN-10: 1400064163
- Publisher: Random House
- Publish Date: November 2010
- Page Count: 473
- Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
Survival against all odds
Laura Hillenbrand first encountered Louis Zamperini while researching her 2003 bestseller Seabiscuit—and how lucky for us that she did. You may not know his name, but Zamperini was famous in his day, an Olympic runner who was secretly held in Japan for two brutal years during World War II after a plane crash left him stranded at sea, presumed dead. How he survived—and how his family never lost hope for his return—is the epic story at the heart of Unbroken.
Zamperini grew up a mischievous trouble magnet in Southern California. Steered toward competitive running by his brother, he earned a spot on the 1936 U.S. Olympic track team and competed in Berlin. He didn’t medal, but he was on his way to becoming a world-class athlete. Many thought he would be the first man to run a four-minute mile.
Then Germany invaded Poland, and everything changed. Drafted into the Army Air Corps, Zamperini was stationed in Oahu as a bombardier. When his B-24 crashed into the Pacific during a rescue mission, he spent 47 days huddled in a raft, battling sharks and the equatorial sun, before being captured by Japanese forces.
Most Pacific POWs were held with little regard for the protections of the Geneva Convention. Zamperini’s hellish experiences came at the hands of Mutsuhiro Watanabe, a sadistic man who mercilessly and systematically beat, starved and degraded POWs. At his lowest, a battered Zamperini found himself forced to clean a pig pen with his bare hands: “If anything is going to shatter me, Louie thought, this is it. Sickened and starving, his will a fraying wire, Louie had only the faint hope of the war’s end, and rescue, to keep him going.”
Hillenbrand is undoubtedly a terrific reporter and storyteller, with an eye for details that make each page sing. But her truest gift may be her innate respect for her subjects. Hillenbrand never deifies Zamperini, who returned from war a broken man prone to flashbacks and barroom brawls before a chance encounter with evangelist Billy Graham turned his life around. Unbroken is a spellbinding celebration of resilience, forgiveness and the human capacity for finding beauty in the unlikeliest places.