Reader reviews and comments on Unbroken, plus links to write your own review.

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A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

by Laura Hillenbrand

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  • First Published:
    Nov 2010, 496 pages
    Jul 2014, 528 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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There are currently 13 reader reviews for Unbroken
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Joyce D (04/07/15)

A contrived rendering of a dramatic history
I read books that cover the history of just about anything, and I love this genre. I'm delighted that there are new titles, about seemingly innocuous subjects, like Cod, that cover a vast span of history linking the main topic to the vast world in a significant way. Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken is a history of the Second World War in the Eastern theater told in conjunction with the story of Louis Zamparini. We follow him from birth to publication, which is near the end of his long life. The book, therefore, covers one Italian family's experiences in the history of the USA during that period. Growing up was hard to do. Running and military service gave Mr. Zamparini focus and direction in life, taking him away from some destructive behaviors he'd fallen into.
Ms. Hillenbrand does a remarkable job of describing the nitty-gritty of situations and experiences that Zamparini encounters. In fact, I'm convinced that the book becomes historical fiction when descriptions speak of the way a man parted his hair (I really don't care), or which side of the table she sat on (really?), or which tree the car was parked under when she cried her eyes out at 3:00 (oh, brother!). These details are the reasons why I will get to the first page of a book on, say, Queen Victoria, and toss it aside: it's clear there will be much conjecture woven into the plot. I'm just looking for facts, and facts that are important to the story. I don't really like it when an author gets into such detail about how many men hit him and how hard before the other guys were made to eat their own feces.
I realize that sensationalism sells in our society. Also, telling a story with vivid details is a strong incentive to read it, keeping the reader involved on an organic level. But, to me, these are traits best left to fiction writers, which Ms. Hillenbrand definitely does not consider herself. Therein lies my problem with her story telling: it contrives details, it plays on readers' emotions, and it relies on the grace of her audience to claim that the story is history rather than historical fiction. I, for one, can't make that claim, though I realize there is a basis of fact behind the story.
Bil (07/11/14)

I guess I read a different book than most, given the great reviews this pulp fiction gets.
Surviving a major plane crash, beating hell out sharks, living on candy and apparently air for countless days at sea, getting beat to a pulp. Wow, Superman would be a crybaby compared to this guy.
Either the author or the main character in this book is making up more stuff than a 4 year old caught in the cookie jar. I can't tell. But what hooey.
" be happy in your work"? Give me a break. Right out of a movie I've seen more than a few times.
And don't get me going about the writing. Lame and contrived.
Margaret Dropek (02/24/12)

The book gave me a better understanding what my husband went through in the 8th A.F. serving on a B-24 in the E.T.O. in 1943 as S.Sgt. and Chief Eng. and top turret gunner. It was a wonderfully discriptive and interesting.
Gladys (01/20/12)

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Our lIbrary chose Unbroken for us to read in our Book group.
I thought I would not be alble to read this book because my father went to WW2 & to the Korean war & I did not want to re-visit what happened during that war. I was glad that I decided to read it & could not wait to finish & see where it went on each page. It showed & taught me & hopefully our group how difficult these great men went through in WW2 & how they suffered & were treated during their captivity. How strong their spirit & hope were that they would be rescued & how they stood up to their captors.
Would recomment this book to friends & Family.
Power Reviewer Louise J (01/03/12)

Incredible Story!
This isn’t normally the type of book I would choose to read but something about the synopsis on the cover propelled me into buying it and I’m glad I did. This is the incredible and true story of Louis Zamperini’s survival, and redemption and the resilience of his mind, body, and spirit.
JW (12/22/11)

Power of the human spirit
This is an absolutely amazing story of human courage and strength as well as human perversity and cruelty. It is a war story but so much more. To read what these men went through is torture in itself. It seemed like the horror, from the moment the plane went down, could not get any worse - but it did.
This story also shows how far our countries (United States and Japan) have come from those horrible years. It is a lesson in forgiveness and understanding. It is a warning for current and future generations about the inhumanity of war.
Abbey Rheinhartt (03/08/11)

An Important Historical Piece with Mass Appeal
Once again, Lauren Hillenbrand, who brought us Seabiscuit, has brought us a perfectly researched and perfectly written book. Although it is about World War II, it should be read by all, and perhaps become required reading in high school.
Cathy H. (02/15/11)

Enlightening and inspiring
This well-researched book should be widely read. At the very least, it puts to rest any lingering doubts over the necessity to drop the big bombs to end the Pacific War. The sacrifices made by Louie, and every other man who served in WWII, as well as the civilians at home, cannot be overstated. After reading this I think they just might have been the Greatest Generation. Excellent book.
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  Japanese Prisoners of War

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