Friday, April 8, 2011

book review: Unbroken

Unbroken is the story of Louie Zamperini, a Olympic track runner who was taken prisoner by the Japanese during World War Two.  His is an amazing story of survival, and of the strength of the human spirit.  I am not going to give details about his experiences, because when you read this book I think it is better to be in suspense about events to come. 

Hillenbrand has an amazing gift for making the time period and events come alive, bringing in statistics and facts from countless sources, and quotes from fellow veterans that seamlessly flesh out the story.  Though facts and figures and numbers are frequently cited, the writing is never dry. She does not shy away from the difficult details, which makes some areas hard to read, but as I was reading I kept thinking how important this is-- not to forget the horrors of war.  For my generation especially, war has been an almost constant background noise.   Yet it is distant; the information and coverage subject to the whims of media.  This book was valuable to me because it gave a personal understanding of the depths that men are capable of descending to during war, and of the callous way that human lives are discarded.  Some particularly striking statistics pointed out that over 30,000 US soldiers died in accidents in WW2-- non combat related deaths often caused by equipment such as planes that were known to be faulty and were used anyways.  But this is by no means a depressing book.  Hillenbrand also shows the humor and courage soldiers exhibited in what to everyone else are unimaginably horrible situations.

I definately started this book with high expectations.  Laura Hillenbrand also wrote Seabiscuit, quotes from which have been used in countless homilies here in Benque (Father Mark is a little obsessed).  Overall, I would say it was not Seabiscuit... but is still an incredibly well written book and a story that needed to be told.  And a book that should be read.

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