Meet the Candidate — “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand

This week we feature Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Immensely popular, Unbroken has been on the New York Times Bestseller List for 87 weeks.

Laura Hillenbrand’s website provides a summary of the story:

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.

The book trailer gives more insight into this nonfiction work:

If you’d like to read an excerpt to get a feel for the book, here is a long excerpt from Vanity Fair; and here is an excerpt from Random House.

The Wall Street Journal published an in-depth article about Louis Zamperini, the main character in the book who is now in his 90s. This interview with Zamperini from Chuck Richardson (CBR), Columbus, Ohio broadens our understanding of his story:

Finally, what did the reviewers have to say?

From The New York Times: Zamperinin’s War
From The Washington Post: Unbroken
From NPRThe ‘Unbroken’ Spirit Of An Ordinary Hero
Susan Rife of The Herald Tribune reviews the audio edition: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption

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