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The Story of Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Eight years ago, an old man told me a story that took my breath away. His name was Louie Zamperini, and from the day I first spoke to him, his almost incomprehensibly dramatic life was my obsession.
It was a horse--the subject of my first book, Seabiscuit: An American Legend--who led me to Louie. As I researched the Depression-era racehorse, I kept coming across stories about Louie, a 1930s track star who endured an amazing odyssey in World War II. I knew only a little about him then, but I couldn’t shake him from my mind. After I finished Seabiscuit, I tracked Louie down, called him and asked about his life. For the next hour, he had me transfixed.
Growing up in California in the 1920s, Louie was a hellraiser, stealing everything edible that he could carry, staging elaborate pranks, getting in fistfights, and bedeviling the local police. But as a teenager, he emerged as one of the greatest runners America had ever seen, competing at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where he put on a sensational performance, crossed paths with Hitler, and stole a German flag right off the Reich Chancellery. He was preparing for the 1940 Olympics, and closing in on the fabled four-minute mile, when World War II began. Louie joined the Army Air Corps, becoming a bombardier. Stationed on Oahu, he survived harrowing combat, including an epic air battle that ended when his plane crash-landed, some six hundred holes in its fuselage and half the crew seriously wounded.
On a May afternoon in 1943, Louie took off on a search mission for a lost plane. Somewhere over the Pacific, the engines on his bomber failed. The plane plummeted into the sea, leaving Louie and two other men stranded on a tiny raft. Drifting for weeks and thousands of miles, they endured starvation and desperate thirst, sharks that leapt aboard the raft, trying to drag them off, a machine-gun attack from a Japanese bomber, and a typhoon with waves some forty feet high. At last, they spotted an island. As they rowed toward it, unbeknownst to them, a Japanese military boat was lurking nearby. Louie’s journey had only just begun.
That first conversation with Louie was a pivot point in my life. Fascinated by his experiences, and the mystery of how a man could overcome so much, I began a seven-year journey through his story. I found it in diaries, letters and unpublished memoirs; in the memories of his family and friends, fellow Olympians, former American airmen and Japanese veterans; in forgotten papers in archives as far-flung as Oslo and Canberra. Along the way, there were staggering surprises, and Louie’s unlikely, inspiring story came alive for me. It is a tale of daring, defiance, persistence, ingenuity, and the ferocious will of a man who refused to be broken.
The culmination of my journey is my new book, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. I hope you are as spellbound by Louie’s life as I am.
This book should be in all schools. Also on prime time tv for all to see. Never before have I enjoyed a book like this as much as I did thidsPublished 2 hours ago by lisa s.
The story takes you to the horrors and the adverse events of world war 2 but is yet stunningly beautiful. Read morePublished 5 hours ago by Jisu Shin
You cannot read this book and walk away as you were before. God bless this man for all he went through and showing the truth of Christ's forgiveness and love.Published 7 hours ago by Ron Criss
Remarkable story. It should be required reading for a generation that knows very little about the price of freedom. History repeats itselfPublished 7 hours ago by Not Xmas
Very good Read. It's hard to imagine all that they went through time and time again . You won't want to miss reading this bookPublished 8 hours ago by john durst
What a tremendous story with a wonderful ending. Jesus is always available and asking one to trust Him. Please do it!Published 9 hours ago by Richie Power
This was a very good but sad story. It tells what our men went through so we can today enjoy our freedom. Our troops are still doing the same thing. God bless them.Published 9 hours ago by GB
This book consumed me night and day.I went to sleep thinking about it and I woke up thinking about it. Read morePublished 9 hours ago by Sophia Fequet