Book Review - Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

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

Let me just say this: Louis Zamperini has had one incredible life! From a childhood where he was always stealing things and running away to training for and competing in the olympics to fighting in WWII to taking up skateboarding in his eighties, this man has done many things in his life that others (like us) only read about.

Louis was gearing up to run in the olympics for the second time when WWII hit the world with full force. He became a bombardier.

The war took Louis on a wild adventure (that most people would rather die than live through). Stranded on a small raft for a month and a half, he came to believe that if he ever stepped back onto land, his troubles would be over. In reality, they were just beginning.

The raft, after drifting some 2000 (!) miles, landed in enemy territory, where Louis found himself in one prison camp after the next. A sadistic Japanese POW camp leader zeroed in on Louis and literally made his life a living hell.

This book was fascinating to me. Depressing at times. Even disturbing at times. But fascinating. If you make it to the end, you'll find sweet redemption and even forgiveness.

If he could forgive the atrocities he lived through, how can we ever hold grudges?

This book is heavy. I recommend it for adults, although there is some talk of sexuality and pornography, but in my opinion, it isn't graphic or gratuitous. For example, while in the air force in Hawaii, they called their bathroom stall the "pornography palace" because of all the pictures taped up. Hillenbrand doesn't give any more detail than that, although it is portrayed as a funny and possibly even a positive thing. In a disturbing part of the book, she also talks about a duck that became a pet of the prisoners in a war camp. One of the guards violated the duck, and it died. She says it quickly, and without any detail so that some people may not even realize what happened...but it's there. A brief portrayal of a terrible yet real occurrence. Finally, there is some swearing. It's mild for a book about war, but it's there, too. For example, they give their various guards nicknames, and one is called the swear word for excrement. It isn't a fluffy book.

It's full of facts, not a lot of dialog...and the topic itself is heavy. However, I'm glad I read understand about a true time in the world's history and to see that no matter what the world has in store for us, we can come out on top, as we seek the Lord's help in forgiving others.


  1. Can't wait! My book club is reading this book next month. :)

  2. I think the positive messages of God helping him through his most difficult times and His reaching out to Louie to help him forgive far outweigh any of the cons. It's one of those books that I hope I'll always remember - it's that powerful!

  3. I definitely agree, Carolyn. That is why I included it here, even though it doesn't really fit my Deliciously Clean Reads criteria.

  4. I LOVED this book. So inspiring!