Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

I am almost finished with this book and I loved every page. I have always been intrigued by World War II and tend to read a lot of WWII fiction. Most of the books I've read focus on the German and Nazi element of WWII. This book was a departure from that.

Unbroken is about a young man named Louie Zamperini who had a great future as an Olympic runner until WWII caught him up and put him in a plane bombing islands in the Pacific. As the subtitle attests, it's a story of survival. His plane crashes in the ocean and he is eventually taken prisoner and sent to a prison camp in Japan.

In 1994 I spent a year in Japan as a Rotary Exchange Student. I visited Nagasaki around the time of the 50th Anniversary of the atomic bomb. I found myself recalling my experience and perspective of the Japanese people compared to what Louie experienced 50 years earlier. It was two different times and two different worlds.  

This book was well-researched, fabulously written and a must-read for anyone who enjoys World War II fiction/non-fiction.

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.

No comments: