Tuesday, January 4, 2011

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

by Laura Hillenbrand
                              Rated PG-13

Louis Zamperini was a troublemaker with far too much energy as a boy, spending quite a bit of his time causing trouble and then "running like mad". Thanks to his older brother, when he was in high school, he transferred that energy to running, becoming the youngest person at age 19 to make the Olympic 5000 meter track team in 1936. After the U.S. joined World War II, Louis got drafted into the Army Air Corps, trained as a bombardier in a B-24 and was stationed in the Pacific theater. During a search and rescue mission, the B-24 he was flying in crashed into the Pacific ocean. Only three people survived to clamber into two life rafts lashed together. Fighting through insane adversity with ingenuity and optimism, two of the three managed to survive, eventually drifting over 2000 miles across the Pacific to reach the Marshall Islands. Problem was, the Marshall Islands were in Japanese hands at the time and the two survivors were promptly captured and shipped off to a series of Japanese POW camps.

Honestly, until I read this book, I had no idea what captured soldiers had to endure in the Japanese camps. I had heard something of the situation, of course, but this opened my eyes in whole new ways to what those men were forced to experience. The title is truly an appropriate one: survival, resilience and redemption is precisely what this book portrays. This book is PG-13 due to bad language, violence, and descriptions of deprivation, abuse, and hate. But it also has forgiveness, love, and renewed life. I read this and was touched by how a human soul can be forced through the depths of hell and, with God's help, come through it unbroken.