Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Unbroken- The Story of A Man More Awesome Than You

Courtesy of Goodreads.com

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption is a non-fiction book by Laura Hillenbrand, published in 2010. It is going to be a movie directed by Angelina Jolie, to be released on Christmas 2014. It's an incredible book, spending 180 weeks on the NY Times Bestseller list. It is about a man who has done more and survived more than most of us could even dream of achieving. His life should make all of us aspire to be more.  The book is gripping, suspenseful, romantic, heroic, and inspiring; I read it in three days, calling into work sick so I could finish it. The movie is already generating Oscar Award buzz, even though it hasn't officially been released; the trailer alone made me cry. Why haven't you read it yet? I'm not sure.

Louis Zamperini overcame QUITE a bit to become the very embodiment of the idea of a 'true' American. An small-town boy, who became a Hitler-dissing track star in the 1936 Olympics, Zamperini joined the military in World War 2, was shot down in his plane, floated adrift in the Pacific for 47 days, only to be rescued by the Japanese forces and then spent more than two and a half years in a POW camp. Surely this must end in tragedy, with this hero dying horribly? He did die... July 2, 2014, at 97.  Zamperini was everything the "Greatest Generation" epitomizes: courage, faith, hard work, and an undying love for country and for family. The book is about Zamperini's journey to sports greatness, to military defeat and torture, accumulating in a self-realization and salvation that played a huge role in improving American and Japanese relations after the war.  

Is this a tear-jerker? You bet! Hillenbrand, her first success being the underdog story of Seabiscuit, is in perfect form in Unbroken.  Known for her meticulous research, Hillenbrand uses military archives, news archives, and personal stories from Zamperini, his family, and his friends to weave a tale that leaves the reader breathless and terrified, yet hopeful.  Although clearly a non-fiction work, Unbroken reads almost like a fiction; the story is almost unbelievable and the outcome is incredible. Hillenbrand has a real talent for drawing the reader completely into the story and relaying emotions to where the reader can vividly feel them. No detail is left unexplored, no emotion left untouched. She takes you on the journey of Zamperini's life, from the angst of teenagehood fistfights to the unbending belief that he would survive his time in the POW camp. Hillenbrand, who became close friends with Zamperini while researching the book, wrote in her eulogy to him, "If anything defined Louie, it was that. What made his life transcendent, what made it resonate in millions of hearts, was not the hardship he encountered, but the way in which he greeted it, how he turned it to joy, and what that told the rest of us about the potential that sleeps within ourselves."

Why should you read this? Well, it almost seems unpatriotic to NOT read about an ultimate American patriot.  He served his country as an Olympian, a soldier, a veteran, and a good citizen; all of this, and he never gave up.  If that isn't the true American spirit, I don't know what is.  And the book is an intense, but utterly gratifying read.  You will never be the same after reading this.  

Besides, you need to read the book before you see the movie!!



Quote taken from http://www.dailybreeze.com/general-news/20140731/laura-hillenbrands-eulogy-to-louis-zamperini

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