Book Review| Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

8664353Book Review of Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

What is Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption about?

Unbroken: A World War II Story is Louis Zamperini’s story, written by Laura Hillenbrand. Most of the narrative takes place during WWII, complemented by the story of Louis’ somewhat troubled youth and subsequent athletic accomplishments as an Olympic runner and completed by finding peace in 1949 after hearing Billy Graham share the gospel message.

Reactions and Thoughts

If you only read one book this year, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand may be one to consider. I am not a huge war story fan, but this tale was so incredible and the book well written that I was highly engaged the entire time. It is entertaining and inspirational, while at the same time providing a look back to history through a first hand account.

There were some places in the latter portion of the book when I had to put it aside.  It was too disturbing, but for the most part the story was detailed enough to keep me turning pages without being overwhelming. It brought the experiences of our service men to life and sparked an interest that had me researching for more of the history. It made me question how man can participate in acts such as those described in Unbroken.

This example of the tenacious quality of the human spirit amazed me. The redemption of Louis Zamperini was moving. Even after overcoming impossible circumstances, he found there was still a need for God’s grace. Following Louis to the point where he was able to forgive those who committed such crimes against him was inspiring. He found a completed freedom in his submission to God, enabling Louis to experience a healed soul.

I was totally engrossed in this story. I would recommend this book for anyone, but would preview before handing to my teen. There is another version directed toward YA I have yet to read, but plan to.

Remembering the Unbroken Spirit of Louis Zamperini

Issues of Concern

War, torture, death, deprivation, alcoholism, PTSD, abuse, domestic violence, Louie’s behavioral struggles in his youth

Study Guides and Reading Guides for Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Reading Guide from the Author’s Website

Reading and Discussion Guide From Lit Lovers

For Parents and Educators Using the Young Adult Adaptation of Unbroken

Quotes from Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand





“When he thought of his history, what resonated with him now was not all that he had suffered but the divine love that he believed had intervened to save him.”

“Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food, and oxygen. The stubborn retention of it, even in the face of extreme physical hardship, can hold a man’s soul in his body long past the point at which the body should have surrendered it. The loss of it can carry a man off as surely as thirst, hunger, exposure, and asphyxiation, and with greater cruelty.”

“His conviction that everything happened for a reason, and would come to good, gave him a laughing equanimity even in hard times.”

“The paradox of vengefulness is that it makes men dependent upon those who have harmed them, believing that their release from pain will come only when they make their tormentors suffer.”

“Louie dug out the Bible that had been issued to him by the air corps and mailed home to his mother when he was believed dead. He walked to Barnsdall Park, where he and Cynthia had gone in better days, and where Cynthia had gone, alone, when he’d been on his benders. He found a spot under a tree, sat down, and began reading. Resting in the shade and the stillness, Louie felt profound peace. When he thought of his history, what resonated with him now was not all that he had suffered but the divine love that he believed had intervened to save him. He was not the worthless, broken, forsaken man that the Bird had striven to make of him. In a single, silent moment, his rage, his fear, his humiliation and helplessness, had fallen away. That morning, he believed, he was a new creation. Softly, he wept.”

“Without dignity, identity is erased. In its absence, men are defined not by themselves, but by their captors.”

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  1. Great review and loved the link to his own words! I totally agree with your assessment that “If you read only one book this year, make it this one!” His courage is inspiring, and the book is necessary to complete his story because the movie does not give the whole account of his life after salvation.

  2. This is probably my favorite book of the decade (so far), too! The movie is pretty good. Movies are almost never quite as good as the book, but they did a nice job with this one.

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