Publisher's Note:  

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.


by Laura Hillenbrand

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Overall Review:  

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is more than a World War II story.  Although a large portion of the book focuses on events during World War II, this book is really a biography of Louis Zamperini and his amazing, incredible, and almost unbelievable life.  Then, as if that wasn't enough, the book moves beyond biography to inspirational, testifying of healing and redemption.  Hillenbrand eloquently and seamlessly writes a narrative crammed full of facts, while managing to never feel like a history lecturer.  Focusing on the war in the Pacific Rim, this is a welcome addition to World War II literature, providing insights to the culture of war in that arena.  A+ writing combined with Louis Zamperini's inspiring spirit and life are what has propelled this book to a well-deserved spot on the New York Times Bestseller list.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  5 religious exclamations, 14 mild obscenities, 5 derogatory names, 2 scatological terms, 3 anatomical terms, 1 f-word derivative.


Violence/Gore Category:  A child is punched/bullied; a child hits/pushes other people; deliberate injuries are inflicted on an individual during a race; reference to deaths at Pearl Harbor; a letter describes military training accidents with some details/gore; report of airplane crashes; bar fight; extended reporting of bombing of Wake with explosions and some death/injury; summary of air crews killed/lost in training; a shark attack results in a lost leg; report of the Japanese "Rape of Nanking"; sharks are blown-up with grenades; description of a bombing mission with deaths and injuries; 1 sentence description of surgery on a leg; airplane crash; shark attacks.


A major portion of the book (over 150 pages) detail an individual's experience in a Japanese Prisoner of War Camp.  Descriptions are brief (usually single sentences/phrases) and factual, but are many.  Incidences reported include, but are not limited to:  General mistreatment of prisoners; experimenting on prisoners with chemical warfare; torture; intentional starving; reported beheadings; kill-all policy; amuptation of leg; an animal dying after being violated; severe beatings; killing (various methods) of POW's, physical mistreatment.


Sex/Nudity:  Reference to pornographic pin-ups in a bathroom; reference to rape by Japanese soldiers; reference to Japanese soldiers being provided women; report that beating prisoners caused an individual to have sexual climax; men advised to lie and say they were talking about sex in order to avoid punishment for talking in POW camps; report of an animal being "violated".

Mature Subject Matter:  

War, death, prisoner of war camps, starvation, physical and mental abuse, alcoholism, juvenile deliquency, pseudoscience of eugenics and forced sterilization, pyschopaths.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Boy begins smoking at age 5 and drinking at age 8.  General references to drinking/beer.  Servicemen drink.  POW's smoke.  There is a celebration at which many people become drunk.  One person struggles with alcoholism.

Reviewed By Cindy
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