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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Book Review - UNBROKEN by Laura Hillenbrand

I love to read.  I have stacks of books that I want to read, that I've read and that I am, or should be, reading.  My favorite stories are biographies.

I just finished Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. This is the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner in 1936 and a member of Army Air Force and prisoner of war in World War II.  It took me quite a while to get into this book because in his younger days, Louis was known to steal, a lot.  It bothered me that such a young child would steal.

Once I started reading about his racing prowess, he ran the mile in 4 min. 21 sec.(the fastest at the time), I was hooked.  Eventually, he enlisted in the Army Air Force and served in the Pacific.  His plane was shot down and he and two other members of his crew drifted 2000 miles in a life raft in the shark-infested waters of the Pacific, until he was "rescued" by the Japanese and sent to a prisoner of war camp.

The story covers all the indignities, starvation and beatings he and his fellow prisoners suffered at the hands of their captors.  After the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaka early in August 1945, their lives were spared.  Orders had been given to kill all the prisoners on August 22, 1945.
 
All the while he was in prison, his family thought he was dead, although they wouldn't accept the fact.  When he returned home, he couldn't forget the horrors of his internment and the most cruel guard who they had named "the bird".  He was so haunted by those memories that he tried to drown them in alcohol.  Eventually, after hearing Billy Graham speak, he gave up the alcohol and turned his life around.

This is a wonderful book and I strongly recommend it, if you can bear to hear about the torture our boys suffered at the hands of their captors.  It's also a wonderful story of survival, recovery and forgiveness.

I was reading this book on a bus ride to Atlantic City and was so engrossed in it that I was surprised at how quickly we got there.  I also thought about forgetting about the slots so I could read, but when I saw those machines and heard the bells, I decided to play and read later which I did.  I continued reading when I got home and didn't put it down until I finished it.

Those who served during WWII were truly the "Greatest Generation".

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