Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand, available in several formats through many outlets. Visit the author’s website at laurahillenbrandbooks.com/.
I mentioned this book earlier this summer in a post about John McCain, but I don’t see that I’ve ever featured it in a blog post of its own. If I have, so be it–it’s worth another one. I’m not much of a crier, but I broke down and sobbed at the climax, which isn’t what you’d think.
First a little bit about Laura Hillenbrand, whom I believe I discussed very briefly in my own book. She should have a book all to herself; her article in The New Yorker Magazine, “A Sudden Illness,” tells the story of how she has struggled for years with a disorder apparently brought on by a severe case of food poisoning.
(I know that I’ve read this article before, but it’s now available only to subscribers. However, the link is to a very thorough summary, which will be enough to give you an idea.
Back to the actual subject of the book, Louis Zamperini. Not even counting the obstacles he overcame in his struggles to compete in the Olympics, which would be enough for most normal people, here’s what he went through starting in World War II:
1. Was shot down over the Pacific and survived for 47 days on a raft. This is one of the longest, if not the longest, survival times ever recorded in these conditions.
2. Was a prisoner of war in Japanese internment camps for well over two years where he was beaten, starved, and tortured.
3. Came home to a hero’s welcome but then had to overcome his depression and anger in dealing with his terrible experiences; he became an alcoholic and was on the verge of divorce.
If you know anything about the rest of the story, you know that it involves grace, forgiveness, and salvation. I cannot do it justice but instead urge you to read the book (or listen to it) for yourself if you have not done so already. And if you’ve seen the movie? Good as it was, and I (gulp) give Angelina Jolie full credit for doing a good job, it doesn’t cover the redemption part of the story much at all. There’s only so much you can cram into a two-hour movie.
No one can be happy while holding a grudge. Louis Zamperini is a shining example of that principle.