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. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane's bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.
The lieutenant's name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he'd been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.
Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.
In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit. Telling an unforgettable story of a man's journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.
This isn’t normally the type of book I would choose to read but something about the synopsis on the cover propelled me into buying it and I’m glad I did. This is the incredible and true story of Louis Zamperini.
Louis Zamperini was a young child when his parents moved to Grammercy Street in Torrance, California. As a toddler he was inquisitive and incorrigible, as a youth he became a delinquent causing trouble, fighting, and stealing his way through each day. Louis was high strung and needed a positive outlet for his destructive and abhorrent behaviour and took up running. Little did he realize when he first began that he would be heading to the 1936 Olympics held in Berlin, Germany chasing the 4-minute mile record! Louis trained hard and more than earned every win and every trophy. He constantly broke records set by previous runners and became quite a sensation.
Louis joined the air force in the Second World War and became the squadron’s bombardier, a job he took seriously. One bright morning in May of 1943 his team flew out over the Pacific on a mission only to crash into the ocean. Only Louis and two other airmen from his flight survived. They floated in a raft over miles and miles and miles of ocean for 47 days and struggled with extreme heat, salt sores, swollen lips that grew grotesquely up to their noses, hunger and starvation, extreme thirst and large sharks that attempted to jump into their quickly shredding life raft. On the 47th day they were rescued by the enemy Japanese and sent off to POW camps. There Louis faced the toughest days of his life. One particular sadistic guard had a penchant for Louis and sought him out daily to apply beatings so severe that you wouldn’t believe any human being could survive. He was tortured, punched repeatedly, had buckle belts swung and smashed into his head, and was demoralized and dehumanized.
Unbroken is the unforgettable story of Louis’s survival, and redemption and the resilience of his mind, body, and spirit.