A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

Book Club Kit - 2014
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE * Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader's Circle for author chats and more.

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 hum∨ brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.
Appearing in paperback for the first time--with twenty arresting new photos and an extensive Q&A with the author-- Unbroken is an unforgettable testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit, brought vividly to life by Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand.

Hailed as the top nonfiction book of the year by Time magazine * Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for biography and the Indies Choice Adult Nonfiction Book of the Year award
"Extraordinarily moving . . . a powerfully drawn survival epic." -- The Wall Street Journal
"[A] one-in-a-billion story . . . designed to wrench from self-respecting critics all the blurby adjectives we normally try to avoid: It is amazing, unforgettable, gripping, harrowing, chilling, and inspiring." --New York
"Staggering . . . mesmerizing . . . Hillenbrand's writing is so ferociously cinematic, the events she describes so incredible, you don't dare take your eyes off the page." -- People
"A meticulous, soaring and beautifully written account of an extraordinary life." --The Washington Post
"Ambitious and powerful . . . a startling narrative and an inspirational book." --The New York Times Book Review
"Magnificent . . . incredible . . . [Hillenbrand] has crafted another masterful blend of sports, history and overcoming terrific odds; this is biography taken to the nth degree, a chronicle of a remarkable life lived through extraordinary times." --The Dallas Morning News
"An astonishing testament to the superhuman power of tenacity." -- Entertainment Weekly
"A tale of triumph and redemption . . . astonishingly detailed." -- O: The Oprah Magazine
"[A] masterfully told true story . . . nothing less than a marvel." -- Washingtonian
"[Hillenbrand tells this] story with cool elegance but at a thrilling sprinter's pace." --Time
"Hillenbrand [is] one of our best writers of narrative history. You don't have to be a sports fan or a war-history buff to devour this book--you just have to love great storytelling." --Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Publisher: New York : Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2014.
Edition: Random House trade paperback edition.
Copyright Date: ©2010
ISBN: 9780812974492
Branch Call Number: BOOK CLUB UNBROKEN
Characteristics: 12 books (473 pages) (2 large print), 1 discussion guide, 1 bag.


From the critics

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Jan 16, 2019

First-person account of WWII on the Pacific front. Incredible story of persistence, brotherhood, despair and resilience. Provided detailed accounts regarding the barbaric treatment of POWs by Japanese soldiers and civilians. Made me re-think a lot about what I felt and thought about WWII. The central and supporting characters are compelling. The authors does get a little over-wrought with the details in parts, but overall it's an engaging read.

Aug 03, 2018

It’s 1943 as an Army Air Force bomber crashes into the Pacific Ocean with one survivor, a young lieutenant, the plane's bombardier, Louis Zamperini. This unforgettable true story follows his struggles of endurance to survive on a raft, imprisonment and trial. It certainly shows the testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit. One of my favorite non-fiction books.

HCL_staff_reviews Jul 23, 2018

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, Lt. Louis Zamperini. Captured by the Japanese and driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor. — Jennifer W., Westonka Library

May 27, 2018

Totally remarkable...worth 10 stars!

Apr 13, 2018

This is well written and inspiring in its way but it is heavy - This is a true story and the main character when through very difficult experiences, even torture. Not to be read unless you are in a good mindset.

Mar 17, 2018

Excellent biography about Zamperini, his early childhood and success as an Olympic athelete intertwined with the story of his Military service, internment by the Japanese and how his life was transformed. I especially like Hillenbrands attention to historical accuracy. Like the title says, a story of survival, resilience, and redemption - that these POWs persevered despite their treatment at the hands of the Japanese is a testament to the human spirit.

Jan 20, 2018

I’ve always liked historical fiction (particularly those focused around WWI and WWII), but I have not had luck in finding a good non-fiction/biography until now. “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand felt as though I was there are knew Louis Zamperini myself. Had it not been a biography I would not have liked it as much because the things he went through seemed so unbelievable. I do not know much about World War II so I cannot say much from a technical viewpoint, but I enjoyed the book and loved how the author seamlessly added facts at just the right places - intensifying my emotions towards what was happening. By the middle of the book I was turning around, no matter where I was, every couple of seconds to tell the people around me about what was happening because it was so moving. As expected, it did slow down a bit at the end, but I refused to put it down until I read through everything and figured out what happened (even the author’s notes at the end which, to be honest, I usually just quickly skim through). I will definitely not forget anything about this book anytime soon.

Oct 24, 2017

I feel this book deserves a 4.5 star rating because of the imagery that the author uses through out the whole book. It really does seem like it was told from this person directly.

Oct 24, 2017

I read this book for English class as a project. I think this book is a great non-fiction book about the troubles of a veteran and a prisoner of war because it highlights the transformation of the main character, Louie Zamperini, in a unique way that differs from many other non-fiction books about war. I think the author, Laura Hillenbrand, thoroughly researched the accounts and diaries of many soldiers to produce such a masterpiece of a book. Therefore, I recommend this book to those that love books about war or post-war experiences.

Jul 18, 2017

A Truly, remarkable Story. Many stories amongst the main story. Transformation. Loving your enemies, under great duress, heart break, cruelty. Giving back to those, who, need someone to really care.

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Add Age Suitability
Apr 02, 2017

jmli thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Feb 17, 2017

Alanreviews thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 14 and 59

black_wolf_2329 Jun 09, 2015

black_wolf_2329 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

john6573 Jun 04, 2015

john6573 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Feb 18, 2012

lukeooo2 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Feb 18, 2012

lukeooo2 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Algonquin_Lisa Mar 05, 2011

Algonquin_Lisa thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


Add Notices
Mar 23, 2012

Violence: some parts are grusome.

Algonquin_Lisa Mar 05, 2011

Violence: Main character's treatment in the internment camp was violent.


Add a Quote
Jul 03, 2015

“A lifetime of glory is worth a moment of pain. Louie thought: Let go.”

Jun 24, 2015

"I'm free! I'm free! I'm free!"


Add a Summary
Jun 24, 2015

Story of Louis Zamperini, started as an Olympian when WWII starts and Louis enlists in the Air Force.

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