From frontliner and booklover, Keith:
For anyone interested in WWII history, and intense survival narratives, there is no book better than Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. I can honestly say that this book was the best book I read in all of 2011 (and best biography I have read in my entire life). I know that is high praise, and I know that saying something like that, sets the book up to be overhyped and then disappoint the reader. If that ends up being the case...if I end up overhyping this story, and you end up disliking the book, I sincerely apologize.
The book is about a man named Louie Zamperini, and essentially, the book falls into 4 parts: Louie the Athlete, Louie joins the War, Louie the Survivor, and finally Post-War Louie. I'm not going to give any major plot details away, but the things that Louie goes through as a WWII veteran are incredible. The book is so well written that at times you forget you are reading a biography and mistake it for a novel.
One of the most refreshing things about the biography, is that Laura Hillenbrand doesn't try to show Louie only in a positive light. Yes, he is the main character and the hero of the story...but he is still a flawed man. He makes mistakes, he screws up a lot, and there are times when he is mean, nasty and unbearable. But those instances make him who he is, and make his character and story that much more believable and enjoyable. He is not just a one-dimensional character who never does anything wrong as is the case with many biographies. He is REAL. We can relate to him. He is human.
Another pleasant aspect of the biography is, while Louie is the main character, he is not the only character. Other characters get introduced and Laura dives into their back stories as well. As we get to know Louie, we get to know his friends, acquaintances and even his enemies. By the end of the book, you feel like you became a part of the story, and were right in the middle of the war, survivng alongside Louie and everyone else.
I do need to warn you however, as great as this book is, this is not a Christian book. From what I understand, Laura Hillenbrand is not a Christian author, and, seeing as this is a WWII story, there is language and moments which are cringe-worthy, and even profane. Not to say that there is anything explicit, but there is language throughout the book which may make people uncomfortable.The story doesn't shy away from talking about death, and how many people died. It doesn't glorify it, but it does talk about it.
Needless to say, I highly recommend this book. Over the Christmas holidays, I got my father to start reading this book, as he is somewhat interested in history. He usually doesn't enjoy reading much, but I thought he might enjoy this book anyway. He LOVED it, and I ended up buying him a copy for Christmas. He didn't finish it while he was visiting, but he made it nearly halfway through, and we would always talk about what was happening in the book, laughing about the jokes and discussing the incredible moments.
While God is not mentioned a lot throughout the book, when you look back over the story, it is evident that his hand is present in everything. God is there. Read this book. Be encouraged by the sheer determination and survival instincts of an incredible man. Read in awe at the amazing events that happen to Louie (even before he goes off to war). As you read, watch for the hand of God. Pay close attention to all the times that God shows up. And most importantly...enjoy the story. Hang on for a wild, unbelievable and yet amazing true story!