By Laura Hillenbrand,

Book cover of Unbroken

Book description

From the author of the bestselling and much-loved Seabiscuit, an unforgettable story of one man's journey into extremity. 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.…

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Why read it?

14 authors picked Unbroken as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

If it’s possible to have lived multiple lives in a single lifetime, then Louis Zamperini did it.

I am a big fan of The Greatest Generation and Unbroken is the story of that generation, the deep beliefs they held, and the many sacrifices they made, not for themselves but for the generations that would follow them. You can’t miss the examples of selflessness, perseverance, and faith that jump out at you from the very first chapter.

As a journalist, I’m in awe of the meticulous reporting Hillenbrand did in this powerful book and the tremendous courage of the main character, Louis Zamperini.

World War II was such a pivotal time in world history and this story really makes it personal, which I think is the only way to have history make sense. On top of that, I deeply admire Hillenbrand for doing such fabulous work while battling chronic fatigue syndrome. Like her character, she has enormous personal courage and persistence.

Many readers are familiar with Laura Hillenbrand’s book, Seabiscuit. I had not heard of her book Unbroken, but when a houseguest left it behind recently, I picked it up. I was immediately captivated. 

This book pulls us into the real-life story of Louis Zamperini, a young man on his way to breaking the 4-minute mile as an Olympian when he is thrust into service during World War II. His tale on its own is interesting enough but the other story here, which is inextricably entwined with his—the United States’ entry into war with Japan—is horrifically gripping and enlightening. …

From Martha's list on the eclectic reader of nonfiction.

The bestselling novel turned motion picture about Louis Zamperini by Laura Hillenbrand. It’s truly a story about the strength of the human will to endure incredible hardship and cruelty. Louis is on a flight mission with several others, and his plane is struck down over the Pacific waters in a firefight. Him and several other survivors drift on a life raft for many days, until they are captured by the Japanese. They face many obstacles in their survival as they are repeatedly beaten and inhumanely starved. Once the war was over, Louis returns home to discover that the wounds of…

From James' list on surviving impossible odds.

I must say that non-fiction isn’t my favorite type of book. Since a friend highly recommended it, I read the book from the middle, thinking if it didn’t speak to me, I'd stop. I didn’t stop until the end!

As a Chinese-American, I’ve read a lot about WWII in China, so the Japanese brutality didn’t shock me. I was deeply touched, however, by the courage of the character, Louie Zamperini. An Olympic runner in the 1930s, Mr. Zamperini was a downed pilot in WWII who was adrift in the Pacific for over a month and then imprisoned by the Japanese.…

The book is much more comprehensive than the film. For me this is an exemplary story of finding redemption and forgiveness after the worst of human imposed torture and misery. Like so many veterans, WWII veteran Louis Zamperini kills the war demon with alcohol. His relationship with his wife and family suffer until Billy Graham helps save him. One of the messages is that hatred will lead you down a self-destructive path. Overcoming your demons and finding forgiveness and redemption will set you free. I raced through this book.

I choose Unbroken because it is the best example I have read of a triumph over adversity story in terms of overcoming physical and emotional suffering. American soldier, Louis Zamperini, was captured by enemy soldiers when his plane went down in the Pacific Ocean. Overcoming the shark-infested waters by surviving on a raft, only to be eventually captured, Zamperini's chances for survival were slim. Surviving on his ingenuity, will, and refusal to lose hope, Zamperini’s triumph over adversity is a mesmerizing tale of persistence despite all odds.

Laura Hillenbrand spent years writing a non-fiction tale that is packed with well-sourced facts, anecdotes, and grainy photos for delivery to a click-and-get world where thoughts can’t exceed 280 characters and effective communication is measured by how fast we get to the point. But that’s okay, because the tale of Louie Zamperini is too compelling to rush. Zamperini is an optimist and a survivor. He is resourceful, the kind of man who bends without breaking. These traits reappear time and again throughout an incredible wartime obstacle course that would have killed a lesser man. If this book doesn’t inspire you,…

This book is so edge-of-your-seat exciting that you would swear it was a well-crafted work of fiction. It’s not. It’s the story of Louis Zamperini whose plane is shot down in World War II. He is left adrift by himself, with thousands of miles of treacherous ocean to cross, just to reach enemy territory and have a chance at survival. Even then he faces captivity and abuse. The only resources he has are the resources he has within himself. He emerges unbroken! Have you ever wondered what you might have inside yourself to face extreme crisis? I have! In…

There is little left to say about this award-winning book-turned-movie. The story is so riveting it is nearly a one-sitting read. By the time Olympic runner-turned B-24 bombardier Louis Zamperini was delivered to a prison camp, he had already endured a horrific forty-seven days in a life raft with his best friend. Their stint of starvation was followed by a longer stint of more starvation and unfathomably cruel treatment. I married a marathoner and raised four champion distance runners. Our meal conversations about this story dwelled heavily on the lost potential. Due to an injury during captivity, Zamp was never…

From Nishi's list on Twentieth Century POWs.

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