Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Book Review: 'Unbroken': If You Loved 'Seabiscuit' You'll Want To Read The Author's Newest Book

I just finished reading a book recommended by colleagues at the Wall Street Journal where I used to work. 'Unbroken' by Laura Hillenbrand, the acclaimed author of 'Seabiscuit', has written another fabulous novel, this one about a World War 2 airman with an incredible story.

A couple of weeks ago I recommended another war book I was reading. That book, 'Matterhorn: A Novel About Vietnam', was about a war fought in my lifetime and a story that was fiction (though I suspect awash with fact). Unbroken', based on the life and war experiences of Louis (Louie) Zamperini, an acclaimed U.S. Track star and Olympian, is all fact.

If you read 'Seabiscuit' you'll know that Laura Hillenbrand is an author that exhaustively researches her subjects. This book has 50 pages of footnotes and other notes on the pages throughout.

I had never heard of Louis Zamperini but by most accounts he was a 'hell-raiser' as a child and young man from Torrance, California. His loving but exasperated family never gave up on him and was able to get him to turn his wayward life around though the sport of track. He became an Olympian in the 1936 Games in Berlin and not long after Pearl Harbor, became a Lieutenant in the United States Air Force flying as a bombardier in a B24 plane. Tissues are required in the reading of this book.

There are many references to Mr. Zamperini on the Internet and film clips that I'll take my time going through. Universal Studios, which also produced Seabiscuit, has purchased the rights to his story.

Louis Zamperini is still alive and according to Ms. Hillenbrand's notes, played an active role in the telling of his story recounting vividly, details about his experiences.

Put this one on your reading list. NPR is having book discussion this month (February). Check their website for details on how to participate.

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