Reading guide for Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

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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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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Book Club Discussion Questions for Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

  1. Did you like the book?  Would you add it to your permanent book collection?  What do you like or not like about this book?  The story is told from the standpoint of a narrator. Why did the author choose this style to tell this story?
  2.  Laura Hillenbrand also wrote the book: Seabiscuit: An American LegendThis book told a very different type of story.  Were you surprised at how different they are? 

  3. When Louie was young he was famous for stealing things.  He mostly took things to eat. Do you think he was hungry or was he doing it for the fun of it?  He was well known and thought of as a nuisance by the local police.  Would a kid like that in today’s society be in more or less trouble with the law?

  4. The Notre Dame coach warned Louis that the other runners planned to hurt him during the race.  What could he have done to protect himself?  Do you think this is just “part of the game” in most sports? 

  5. What was unique about the setting of the book and how did it enhance or take away from the story?  Do you think the Germans and the Italians treated WW II American POWs differently?  Do you think American POWs were treated any better or worse during Korea, Vietnam, the Civil War, Desert Storm, or any other Wars or military actions?  In your opinion, in what war did they receive the worst treatment?

  6. Even after they were pronounced dead by the Army, the families held on to the belief that their loved ones were still alive.  What about the family members of the Other men in the crew who went down with the plane; do you think they held to similar beliefs?

  7. CiCi remained loyal to her man and when he returned they were married.  Many marriages took place shortly after the war. This led to the Baby boom generation.  Are you a boomer? Do similar surges in birth rates take place after every conflict? A lot of "Dear John" letters were written during WW II. Are such letters more common in more recent conflicts?

  8. Do the characters seem real and believable?  Can you imagine yourself in their place?  How were the characters changed by the events in the story?

  9. Louie turned his life around after attending a Billy Graham revival.  Do you know others who changed their life because of a religious experience?  At the same time Louie’s wife was planning on leaving him for good.  Which event do you think influenced his turn around the most?

  10. Louie eventually went back to Japan and confronted his tormenter.  Would you have been able to forgive the way Louie did?  Is forgiveness a part of the religious experience Louie had at the revival? 

  11. Talk about the parts of the book that made you feel uncomfortable? What were some of the ”feel good“ moments in this story?

Discussion questions by Kenneth Mason Reiss Jr.

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Random House. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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