Customer Review

1,266 of 1,329 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic Biography, October 2, 2010
This review is from: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Louis Zamperini? Who is he? Laura Hillenbrand's near 500-page reply will answer the question not only once, but for all. He is the California boy who was a kleptomaniac. He is the running prodigy who competed at Hitler's Berlin Olympics, shook hands with the Fuhrer, and was almost shot by Nazi guards for stealing a Nazi souvenir. He is the American serviceman who entered the Pacific theater, crashed into the sea, and spent a harrowing forty-odd days floating on a disintegrating raft circled by aggressive sharks, scorched by a relentless sun, and gnawed to the bone by an inescapable hunger.

Who is Louis Zamperini? He is a man who overcame all THAT only to be "rescued" by the wrong side -- the Japanese. He is the man who went from being a prisoner of starvation and sharks that actually leaped up and tried to snatch him out of the foundering raft to being a prisoner of Japanese guards who were every bit as predatory as the great white of the seas. He is the man who was beaten every day by a particular Japanese corporal named Mutsuhiro Watanabe, a.k.a. "the Bird." He is, in short, the Unbroken One -- the man who kept getting up, coming back, rebounding, and holding on to the tenuous thread that connected him with life and hope, past any duration that any of us could possibly imagine. And, as YOU can imagine, his story is compelling. In fact, in the capable hands of Laura Hillenbrand, author of SEABISCUIT, it reads like a thriller, a page-turner, a fictional product of a keenly talented mind -- proving once again that truth can trump fiction when it comes to stories and mankind's love of hearing them.

When you reach the end of this man's incredible journey, you will be awed by the scope of Hillenbrand's writing. It is clear that she did a vast amount of research -- reading letters, telegrams, newspaper clippings, radio transcripts, etc., AND interviewing not only Zamperini himself, but his family members, friends, surviving fellow servicemen, and even Japanese captors. Woven in her biography are many statistics and facts from the history of World War II as well. You will learn about the science of survival -- why certain men live and certain men die -- and about the strengths and weaknesses of America's planes that carried servicemen over the vast distances of the Pacific Ocean. You will learn about the war strategy, the Japanese culture and its effects on treatment of POWs as well as on conducting (and refusing to surrender in) a war to the bitter end. And, sadly, you will learn about the aftermath of war in Japan.

It's all here, bigger than life, packed into the small frame of one man from Torrance, California -- a man that could, and did, live to tell about a page in history we hope never to repeat. Both a personal tale of redemption and resilience, UNBROKEN is destined to become a classic in the category of narrative nonfiction. Ordinarily I'm a fiction guy, but I was spellbound from the start. Honest. Give it a try. It's big, but reads small. I think, when you reach the end, you, too, will sing its (and Louie's) praises (at 93, Zamperini is still alive and still "Unbroken"!).
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Showing 1-10 of 21 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 4, 2010 7:33:51 AM PDT
Nancy Mc says:
Thanks for this review. I will definitely read this book.

Posted on Nov 5, 2010 11:14:52 AM PDT
M. Stephens says:
It's a pleasure to read a thorough, well-written, literate review that in a few paragraphs gives a clear idea of what the book's about. I'll definitely get hold of a copy.

Posted on Nov 15, 2010 3:03:09 PM PST
Steven James says:
What a thoughtful, well-written review. I have just ordered UBROKEN based upon your advice.

Posted on Nov 29, 2010 8:42:10 AM PST
Mrs. R. says:
Great review! Thanks!

Posted on Nov 29, 2010 9:29:19 PM PST
David M says:
Thanks for a insightful, detailed .. tell-it-like-it-is book. I've read many WWII historical accounts (i,e. Helmet for my Pillow etc) and just wasn't up to reading another one. But I think I will put this on my list - once I can get it at the library.
Thanks Ken!

Posted on Dec 2, 2010 4:30:19 PM PST
Sunshine says:
I just got this book for my father, Louis.. a WWII air force veteran himself of the Pacific, 89! I look forward to his review and enjoyed yours! :)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2011 3:10:38 AM PST
Ken C. says:
Thanks for the kind words, everyone. I hope you (or whomever you bought the book for) enjoy it as much as I did!

Posted on Jan 16, 2011 5:51:45 AM PST
Ken--a powerful review. Bravo. OK, already--you sold me! ;-->>>


Posted on Mar 20, 2011 3:36:39 PM PDT
R. Rogers says:
Well written review. I started to write one but yours said it all and said it perfectly!!! WELL DONE!!!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 26, 2011 12:40:32 PM PDT
Ken C. says:
Thank you, switterbug and R. Rogers, for taking the time to leave such positive notes!
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4.8 out of 5 stars (23,611 customer reviews)
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Ken C.
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Location: MA, USA

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