Book review: Unbroken

Zamperini ran the 5000 metre at the Berlin Olympics and met Hitler.

I was reading the local newspaper the other day and discovered that film director and actor, Angelina Jolie was making in a film in Australia called "Unbroken" based on the life of Louie Zamperini.  I thought I would check out the book and see what it was like. I read it over a few days and found it inspiring.

Book: Unbroken
Author: Laura Hillenbrand

"On a May afternoon in 1943, Louie took off on a search mission for a lost plane. Somewhere over the Pacific, the engines on his bomber failed. The plane plummeted into the sea, leaving Louie and two other men stranded on a tiny raft. Drifting for weeks and thousands of miles, they endured starvation and desperate thirst, sharks that leapt aboard the raft, trying to drag them off, a machine-gun attack from a Japanese bomber, and a typhoon with waves some forty feet high. At last, they spotted an island. As they rowed toward it, unbeknownst to them, a Japanese military boat was lurking nearby. Louie’s journey had only just begun." (source

After being picked up by the Japanese, Zamperini spent two years in a POW camp in Japan, life was hell on earth. I was staggered that humans could endure so much suffering and still survive, want to survive and fighting to keep their dignity and concern for their fellow men in captivity. However once Zamperini returned to the USA with all the other soldiers it was quite clear that these men were still suffer the terrible nightmare they had endure, many are still suffer today.

Louie Zamperini returns home to the USA after his terrible experiences, hugging his mother.

Near the end of the book I got my biggest surprise (resulting in tears), with his wife Cynthia about to walk out on him (taking their baby) the most remarkable thing happens.  Louie had become violent, having terrible flashbacks, a drunk and had not focus at all (unable to hold down a job). Cynthia went to a Billy Graham meeting and came home and told Louie that she was no longer going to divorce him, she would stay no matter what. Somehow Cynthia convinces Louie to come and listen to Billy Graham - this he found very difficult as he wasn't a man of faith and his demons were taking over - however the words that Graham spoke hit Louie so hard that he became a Christian.  He never drank again or no longer had flashbacks, he had finally found peace.

Just then, my whole rotten sinful life passed before my eyes and I began to get an inkling of what I feared I had to do.  Only I didn’t want to do it.  Why?  Men prefer darkness to light.  How could I give up the parties and the liquor and living for the moment and the fun? 

...I got to the aisle.  I stepped onto the sawdust path and knew it was my crossroads of decision.  I fought against it, perhaps harder than I’d ever fought, but in the end I made my decision, turned right, toward Billy Graham, released Cynthia’s hand ...  (Devil at My Heels, page 241-242)

After that night in the tent, with Billy Graham, Louie Zamperini changed the course of his life.  He remembered his prayer on the life raft, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean:
If you will save me,
I will serve you forever.

This is one remarkable story of courage, determination, the will to fight and stay alive, friendship, not giving up when life become unbearable and most importantly finding Christ. I am looking forward to seeing this film (sometime next year), however this is a biggish book very full of so much and I can't imagine which parts will make it to screen and what won't. It would be very sad to see this become a typical American "action" film when it certainly isn't. 

I would give the book 5 stars


Zamperini in 1949 going to the Billy Graham tent meeting (source)

Angelina Jolie with Zamperini who are next-door neighbours.


  1. I knew this remarkable story but not that it was being made into a film. One I think I will go & see so hope Hollywood doesn't do its worst.

    1. Jolie has made some good films such as the The Mighty Heart so I am hoping this one will be as good. Sadly Hollywood doesn't have a good track record.

  2. Not a story I am familiar with. Thanks for reviewing it Jo. Oh, so many books I want, need, to read. So little time it seems. But like you, I will soon be back to Darby and Joan. Perhaps that will be my opportunity. I do apologise that I rarely comment not. Time again!

    1. Ruby, I completely understand - no need to apologies:))

      These days I can read a book in a few days as I have no disruptions in the evening and I read in my lunch hours at work. Sometimes I even surprise myself!! When the children were little I had hardly any time and when I did I was too tired to read!!

      Have a lovely weekend.

  3. Thank you for this review. I am headed to the library and I hope they have it. It looks good!

    I liked over from Raising Homemakers.

    1. Thanks heaps for visiting:))

      I do hope you enjoy this book, there are some very sad moments in this book, but also very inspiring to.


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