Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
|November 16, 2010|
|LC Class||D805.J3 Z364 2010|
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption is a 2010 non-fiction book by Laura Hillenbrand, author of the best-selling book Seabiscuit: An American Legend (2001). Unbroken is a biography of World War II hero Louis Zamperini, a former Olympic track star who survived a plane crash in the Pacific theater, spent 47 days drifting on a raft, and then survived more than two and a half years as a prisoner of war in three brutal Japanese prisoner-of-war camps.
Unbroken has spent more than four years on The New York Times best seller list, including 14 weeks at number one. It is the 5th longest-running nonfiction best seller of all time. [non-primary source needed]
As a young boy, Louie Zamperini is a troublemaker in his hometown of Torrance, California. He steals food from neighbors and runs away. Pete, his older brother, pushes him to develop his love of running. Louie trains constantly, eventually making the U.S. Olympic Team and competes at the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936.
His running career, however, ends abruptly as World War II begins. Louie enlists in the United States Army Air Corps where he becomes a bombardier. Louie and his crew grow close during this time, experiencing many battles. Their plane, the Super-Man, takes a ton of abuse and still continues to fly until it gets shot over five hundred times. Even then all the crew survive the ordeal.
The plane is replaced with a less reliable plane, the Green Hornet. The Green Hornet ends up crashing almost immediately due to mechanical difficulties while on a search mission some 850 miles (1,370 km) south of Oahu, killing eight of the 11 men aboard. Not only does most of the crew die, but the three that survive the crash, Louie, Phil, and Mac, are wounded and face a grave future. Phil become depressed and Mac goes insane and eats all their calorie-filled chocolate. They all become creative, devising ways to get clean water and food. They manage to repair their life raft after Japanese gunners shot holes in it. Even with this success, Mac dies shortly after.
Louie and Phil survive for forty-six days but get captured by the Japanese. They get sent to several POW camps. Louie survives, despite the sadistic guard nicknamed “the Bird.”
After the war is declared over, American planes drop food and other supplies to the camps. Louie reunites with his family, who all worried and presumed him dead. Louie marries Cynthia Applewhite. They have a daughter, but Louie has become an alcoholic and has increasing flashbacks of the war. Louie cannot find a new career or do what he loves, running. So he tries to run from reality with alcohol. He thinks only of wanting to murder the Bird because of the torment that the Bird caused. Because of this Cynthia files for divorce. However, Billy Graham comes to town and starts a series of revivals. Cynthia convince Louie to at least come to one of the revivals. There Louie flashes back to when he made a bargain with God on the raft, and Louie finds his faith again. This enables him to leave his bad habits, find a new life and to save his marriage.
Many years later, Louie forgives all who wronged him during WWII. When he hears that the Bird is still alive, Louie wants to go meet him and express his forgiveness. The Bird refuses, and Louie ends up sending him a letter. In 1998, Louie carries the Olympic torch past Naoetsu, one of the locations where he was once imprisoned, we see his true forgiveness and “unbrokenness.”
Awards and honors
- 2010 Publishers Weekly "Top 10 Best Books"
- 2010 The New York Times Best Seller list (Nonfiction)
- 2010 Time magazine's "Top 10 Nonfiction Books" (#1)
- 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist (Biography)
- 2011 Indies Choice Book Awards (Adult Non-Fiction) 
- 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize shortlist
- 2012 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction longlist
A feature film based on the book was adapted by Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures. Angelina Jolie directed this film while the Coen brothers, Richard LaGravenese, and William Nicholson wrote the screenplay. Jack O'Connell portrays Louis Zamperini and the film had its general release on Christmas, 2014.
A subsequent movie, Unbroken: Path to Redemption was made as a sequel in 2018 to this first movie, to less success than the first one.
- "Laure Hillenbrand Unbroken: About the Book". Retrieved January 10, 2018.
- "Best Books 2010". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
- "Best Sellers – Hardcover Nonfiction". New York Times. 26 December 2010. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
4 weeks on the list
- "The Top 10 Everything of 2010". Time. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
- "Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalists Announced". Publishers Weekly. February 22, 2011. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
- "Indies Choice Award". Book Web. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
- "Dayton Literary Prize finalists revealed". foyles.co.uk. August 25, 2011. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
- "Andrew Carnegie Medal longlist 2012" (PDF). Booklist. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
- "Angelina Jolie To Direct 'Unbroken', The Incredible Story Of Lou Zamperini". deadline.com. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2013.
- "Angelina Jolie Narrowing Choices For Young Lou Zamperini In 'Unbroken'". deadline.com. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 21 September 2013.
- "Universal Dates Angelina Jolie's 'Unbroken' For December 25, 2014". deadline.com. 10 July 2013. Retrieved 21 September 2013.
- Annie Martin (February 25, 2014). "Angelina Jolie brings Louis Zamperini's unbelievable true story to life in Unbroken". UPI. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
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