Laura Hillenbrand’s book, Unbroken, is the true story of an Olympic athlete who gets captures by the Japanese and lands in a POW camp.
When we read Unbroken for our monthly book club meeting, the woman who recommended it couldn’t attend. She wanted everyone to know that the book was inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time. Another woman in the book club--an elementary school teacher--felt so passionate about the book that she called me to talk and rave for fifteen minutes about Unbroken when she missed the book club.
They were both right in their assessments about Unbroken; it's a fantastic book.
I had expected comparisons to Seabiscuit; there weren’t any comparisons to be found. Even though Laura Hillenbrand wrote both books, the subject matter was so different. Most of us appreciated learning about the hardships that the POWs had to endure during WWII; some of us hadn’t truthfully realized how hard the Japanese had been on the American POWs during the second world war, and all of us were touched by the strength and bravery of the men who were held in the camp.
The men were beaten, forced into slave labor and tortured. Some of the men were even killed, but none of them seemed to have lost their pride. When Louie Lamperini, the Olympic athlete who was captured by the Japanese after his plane went down, was released from the POW camp after the United States dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, he said that he would have rather have died than have endured all of the hardship that he went through.
I didn’t finish the book in time for the book club meeting, but was quickly caught up to speed on both The Bird, the Japanese guard notorious for atrocious war crimes and on the life the of Louie Zamperini, who like a majority of POWs had a truthfully hard time adjusting to life in the United States once the war was over.
Once I did finally finish Unbroken, I wasn’t disappointed with the book at all. Unbroken made me realize how much better I have it than the men and women who have fought in the name of our country. I’ve never seen a battlefield and I’ve certainly never experienced the horror, torture, and humiliation of someone in a POW camp.
How did Louie fare after it was all said and done? He was alive, but not the same man as when he had left. As one member of our book club put it, he was slightly broken.