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Unbroken: A World War II story of survival, resilience, and redemption by Laura Hillenbrand is one of the most unusual battle stories of all. It is a book of hope for: a hell of a story in the grip of the one writer who can handle it. The war story is one of its own when it comes to defining courage, humanity, and the impossible. In her eagerly awaited book, Lara Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and through narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit, telling of a man’s story of a journey into extremity. Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of mankind in the mind, body, and spirit.
Unbroken is a nonfiction story of Louis Zamperini, a promising young Olympic runner who is from Torrance, California. He was called upon to work on a bomber crew in the pacific in the World War II. Before he had left the states, he had been issued with an olive- drab Bible which he could not read due to anxiety. He literary abandoned the Bible since it made no sense to him. (Laura, 89)
His plane crashed into the sea and found himself with two other survivors, whom they drifted together for 40 days, surviving on rainwater and occasionally on fish and birds they could catch. Zamperini and his fellow survivor were captured by the Japanese navy when they were finally nearing land. The Japanese never informed his home country of his capture and he was therefore assumed dead.
After gentle treatment while recuperating at the hospital, the men were taken to a Japanese prisoner camp where Zamperini was subjected to special harsh treatment from the guards because of his fame as an Olympic runner. He was transferred to several prison camps before finally being taken to a camp in Tokyo. Zamperini was at one time forced to make pro-Japanese broadcast to America but he refused a situation that led to further mistreatment from the guards.
When in prison, the American forces dropped the atomic bombs on Japan leading the Japanese to surrender. It is then that Louis and other prisoners were set free. Louis was hospitalized and in the long run sent home to Torrance, to the happiness of his family. Zamperini got married to a young woman after knowing her for only two weeks. Due to bad memories, Louis got engaged in excessive drinking, a situation that led to problems in his marriage. An evangelist Christian preacher made a turning point in Louis’ life. He even found it possible to forgive the guards at the prison for their brutality.
The author of” Unbroken” interviewed Zamperini several times even though there were a lot of obstacles that hindered her from being so close to Zamperini. Because of her illness and being confined at home, she could reach Louis through her phone. It is evident from her citations that she spoke to Zamperini via the phone. Any journalist would tell that having written something so ambitious and powerful under such trying situations is an act of tremendous courage.
Hillenbrand Laura has written the story using a specific style used in the literary works.” All he could see, in every direction, was water.” (Laura, xvii) The story is told on a non-fiction basis given that the author personally interviewed Louis on what took place throughout the World War II.
Zamperini was an enemy of the Japanese and an American soldier. The author takes great care to provide an objective perspective on the behaviour of Louis as well as the Japanese guards that he interacted with. She verifies Louis’ claims with other witnesses and the records as history has it. She also documents similar actions at different places reported by other prisioners. The author is also careful to include Zamperini’s description of the Japanese guards who treated prisoners humanly and worked hard to reduce their suffering.
The major theme of unbroken is basically in the subtitle, “A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption.” Louis was saved from unpleasant fate severally during his lifetime, as the author documents. During his childhood, he was a rebellious boy, who was often in trouble. He was almost being expelled from school when his brother and mother stepped in and encouraged him to join athletics. The encouragement put him into the path to compete as an Olympian. Louis joined the training and eventually, his transformation was stunning. (Laura, 17)
Zamperini’s career in the Pacific Ocean as a bomber was an extremely dangerous one. Louis narrowly escaped death at the battle over the island of Nauru and the bombing raid shortly afterward. Louis seemed to be very lucky right from when they experienced a plane crash. He was among the few survivors of the plane crash in the pacific who managed to reach near land. He luckily survived the wrath of the sharks who were rubbing their backs on the bottom of the raft.
“Unbroken” ought to be a required reading for any individual who is interested in the stories of American heroes. It is a story of stamina and courage in the face of unbelievable human cruelty. It may be hard to understand where God was during the horrific period in the American history and experience. The reader will understand better the larger reasons of human suffering and the lessons we learn from adversity.
Hillenbrand’s narration is smoothly flowing and would make any reader tore the book and read more and more pages after the other. The chapters prove to be exhaustingly well researched and written. Evidently, Laura’s successfully did a tremendous job researching on the events before, during and after the world war. The book shows not only the finite details of the stories, but also the documentations in the back of the book.
The author’s writings are straight forward and clear. Every word in the narration is accounted for by the author. The atrocities that the American fighters had to endure during the war are anger provoking but any reader would be delighted by the forgiveness showcased at the end of the story, which is also the climax of the narration.
Although the story is beautifully written and captivating, it would take readers time to adjust to the unique style used by the author. The story takes readers into a new world where readers are completely invested in the characters. The characters in the story are well organized and their activities are all but emotional and evocative.
In conclusion, the dangers of war, death and mutilation and the horrors inflicted upon POWs are implicated in the nightmares the returning soldier must live within the story. The triumphant ending of the story shows how the hero was a unique character. Readers get a deeper appreciation of those who work to sacrifice on behalf of the rest. Waking up to face the challenges in the society is a way of making other people’s efforts more fruitful.
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