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



  • “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” by Laura Hillenbrand
  • ISBN: 081298711X / ISBN13: 9780812987119
  • Number of Pages: 500
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (Movie Tie-In edition)
  • Publication Date: 04 November 2014 (first published 2010)
  • Source: Own copy, bought at Booksale
  • Date Read: 23 January 2015
  • Rating: 5 Stars


In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943.

When his Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, against all odds, Zamperini survived, adrift on a foundering life raft. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, 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.


Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food, and oxygen.

I would have never known about this book, if not for the buzz Angelina Jolie created late of 2014 about the movie adaptation she directed. Knowing that this book was based on real life and centers during World War 2, I knew I had to read it before I see the movie. Though I haven’t seen the movie at the cinema, it has been a pleasure to read this book because it had everything I wanted – a rich history, a view of life during WW2, and a character who will be forever memorable to me.

To say that Louis Zamperini and his life story is an inspiration would be an understatement. I don’t wanna go all preachy preachy, but I do believe God works in awesome and mysterious ways and Louis Zamperini became one of his many agents. Having to endure that kind of life, I was amazed that he lived until age 97 (he died in 2014), but was somehow grateful for it. If not for the movie Angelina Jolie directed, I would have never learn about this book, and I believe until the last few days of his life, God used Louis Zamperini as an agent of hope and forgiveness.

Reading this book was difficult for me even if the writing was simple and words easy to understand. It was difficult to read because everything that happened in this book was real, and for days I have been experiencing indigestion and nightmares not only because of the book, but also because of the videos related to the book that I watched on YouTube. I watched clip after clip of the American bomber planes, the bombing of Pearl Harbor as well as Hiroshima, the Bataan Death March, even The Bird’s actual interview. These horrific things remained in my head making me insomniac (sleeping at around 3am every day since I read this) and the little sleep I had were plagued with nightmares. I guess I could say for that reason, Laura Hillenbrand crafted a wonderful biography – it was very vivid and it truly felt as if I was there, too.

I am thankful that this book showed a 360 degree view of Louis’s life. Often, war stories end by liberation, but by showing how life was after the war, it showed just how crippling war was (not only to the soldiers and POWs but to their families and friends as well), and how it changed lives long after the war was over.

What I loved most about his story was his family. If not for the love from his parents and siblings, I don’t think Louis Zamperini would be as strong as he was during the war. If not for his wife’s love, I don’t think he would fully heal. Lesson learned: a strong family unit will always be anyone’s biggest asset.

The turning point of Louis’s life was something that made me cry the most, because it was something we all could relate to. His war story we might never understand as we have no idea how hard life was exactly, but his transition towards a better life we could understand. No matter how small or big it is, we all have skeletons in our closet. Louie found real liberation through God, and I am in no position to argue with that, and was thankful for it, actually. It reminded me (again) of Pope Francis’s homily – “Let God surprise you” – and this book did.

I read this book in January of 2015, but even if I have read nearly 80 books more during that year, this has become my favorite book for that year. Though difficult to digest, I still highly recommend this book….and whenever you face crossroads in your life, or if life throws you a curve ball, just think of how Louis managed to triumph in life.

Rest in peace, Louis Zamperini. Thank you for the inspiration.


This entry was posted in 2015 Book List, Book Talk, Favorite Books, Non-Fiction. Bookmark the permalink.

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