Celebitchy Book Club: ‘Unbroken’ by Laura Hillenbrand


Kaiser’s take: Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken was one of my favorite CB Book Club picks ever! I got hooked on it and binge-read it over the course of a week. I was actually surprised by how just how readable it was. I guess I expected it to be dense and packed with WWII stuff and while there was a lot of information to absorb, the crux of Louis Zamperini’s story never felt weighed down, even in those times when his life was very dark and profoundly disturbing.

Zamperini was a bad kid, a naughty kid, a hellraiser and a would-be delinquent. I tend to think his life would have been completely different if his older brother, Pete, hadn’t loved him so much and been such a naturally excellent coach for his little brother (and naturally, Pete ended up a coach post-WWII). Pete coached Louis to be one of the best runners in the world, and I have no doubt that if WWII hadn’t come around, Louis would have shattered every world track record. Louie’s attendance at the Berlin Olympics was one of my favorite passages of the book – just the details about the other American athletes (including Jesse Owens) and the delegations from the other countries.

I went into Louis’s story blind – I knew he was an Olympic athlete who survived terrible things during the war, but that was it. I was amazed by what actually happened to him, not just his survival after a plane crash but the hell and endless torture he faced at the hands of his Japanese captors. When CB, Bedhead and I were talking about the book, we all agreed that if Louis had ended up killing any of his Japanese captors, even years after the war, we would have been cool with it. As it was, his story was almost unbelievable. He simply survived so much, he should have been dead several times over.

A lot of people have taken issue with Louis’s life post-war, when he was a bitter drunk dealing with crushing survivor’s guilt and PTSD (before such a diagnosis existed). For what it’s worth, Angelina Jolie’s film adaptation, the script apparently ends soon after the war, so you won’t really see how Louis struggled and how he finally changed his ways – he became born again after a young Billy Graham saved his soul. I took the “born again” part of Louis’s life for what it was – a much-needed release for Louis after years of physical and psychic torture. He found his peace and became a better man.

And yes, I would totally recommend this book. It was a great read!

Bedhead’s take: I expected to like Unbroken, but I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. War dramas aren’t usually my thing, but Lauren Hillenbrand kept the ball rolling at a nice pace. I was astounded at how much detail Louis Zamperini remembered from his POW ordeals. Every aspect of this book was riveting. I also expected to cry throughout most of this book, but it only happened once (and at a really inappropriate place — when Louis’ feet started to burn at the Olympic trails in New York). Go figure. [Note by Kaiser: I sobbed when Louis pulled Phil into the raft.]

Louis Zamperini inspired many people throughout his years. He will continue to do so, thanks to this book and Angelina Jolie’s upcoming adaptation. Most of us would have surrendered our lives on that raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Zamperini never gave up, and this book tells the magnificent tale of his survival against the worst odds imaginable. He refused to let his life be thrown away as a cheap casualty of war. He struggled to reacclimate to civilian life and battled alcoholism. Zamperini was the ultimate bruiser and came out swinging against every obstacle. The world suffered a great loss when he passed away earlier this year.

Unbroken is many things: A war drama, a tale of survival, an account of enduring optimism. I choose to remember it most as a deadly dance between two characters, Louis Zamperini and his nemesis, the Bird. The opening description of this terribly cruel character told us, “From the moment that Watanabe locked eyes with Zamperini, an officer, a famous Olympian, and a man for whom defiance was second nature, no man obsessed him more.” Louis became equally obsessed with the Bird, but not by choice. Even after Louis was freed, the specter of the Bird haunted him for most of his life. If this was a fictional book instead of a true account of Zamperini’s life, Hillenbrand probably would have thrown some proper justice into the Bird’s fate. I mean, a little artistic license would have been soooo satisfying from a reader’s standpoint. C’mon, you know you feel the same way.

Celebitchy’s take: Unbroken is the story of a man’s will to survive in the face of unimaginable horror. There were so many near misses for Louis Zamperini that I wondered if parts of his story were embellished. They were not: his incredible story is well documented and corroborated by the many POWs who suffered and died in Japan during WWII.

Hillenbrand filled Unbroken with detail and secondary characters, some of which seemed unnecessary. I believe that about 1/4 of the book could have been cut and that it would have the same impact, however I understand why she wanted to tell us so much. She found these details fascinating and they all contributed to a rich story that belies belief.

One statistic stood out for me. Hillenbrand writes that of the 34,648 Americans held by Japan in POW camps, 12,935 died. That’s 37%. Compare that percentage to the American POWs who died in Germany and Italy – just 1%. POWs in Japan endured forced labor, starvation, and extreme physical and emotional abuse. Parts of this book were harrowing and difficult to read. They would have been hard to take if it was fiction.

Louis and his best friend, Phil, survived well into old age after being stranded on a life raft for 47 days and then spending two years under horrible conditions in Japanese prison camps. Unbroken speaks to the resiliency of the human spirit, and the will to survive when hope seems lost.

Kaiser: Our next book club selection is another nonfiction choice: The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis. I remember seeing Theoharis interviewed several months ago and talking about how Rosa Parks was a badass boss, so this should be good! We’ll discuss the book on September 28th.



Photos courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, Wikipedia Commons, WENN.

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44 Responses to “Celebitchy Book Club: ‘Unbroken’ by Laura Hillenbrand”

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  1. Sixer says:

    Ack. One can’t say one didn’t like this book without appearing to disparage Zamperini, can one? I’ll give it a go, however, cos I *really* didn’t like it. (And I did like Seabiscuit).

    *Bad writing technically, with run-on sentences, awful dialogue tags for hyperbole’s sake, etc etc. WHERE WAS THE EDITOR?

    *Info-dumping to such an extent that we were getting perilously close to torture pron for entire chapters.

    *Dissonance between accurate research and credulous interviewing with no explanation of possibly unreliable narration to keep the reader straight.

    *And plenty more.

    Sorry guys. Love Zamperini and understand the appeal of an hagiography about him. But didn’t like the book at all. Hopefully, the tighter focus of a film will do him more justice.

    • Virgilia Coriolanus says:

      That’s what I’ve been hearing since the movie adaptation was announced……..a few people said that the writing was horrible. Other people really liked it. It’s like the GOT books for me–I tried to read them, and I was bored to death. But I LOVE the story.

    • TC says:

      Didn’t find the writing to be subpar at all. In fact is was the opposite in my opinion. I found the writing to be quite cinematic and incredibly engrossing. It was a page-turner. Finished it in a few days. Would’ve been sooner, but the workdays got it the way. 🙂

      And it terms of the (ahem) “info-dumping,” this is necessary at it is a work of non-fiction. Sources must be cited as the writer is covering a wide swath of world history that she didn’t live through: the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, WWII in Europe, WWII in the Pacific, German and Japanese POW internment, pre-war training for officers and soldiers, B-24 plane specifications, etc. It’s this “info-dumping” that gives works of non-fiction it’s credibility and factual foundation.

      I can totally understand why this book sat atop the best seller list for more than 4 years. It’s an incredibly well-told story and Louie Zamperini lived an unbelievable life. Really looking forward to the film now when in opens in December.

      • Jones says:

        ITA that the writing had a cinematic feel. While reading, I could easily imagine movie scenes playing out before my eyes. I think Jolie’s film will be amazing. She clearly has great material to work with. With such a thoroughly researched book, Hillenbrand leaves no stone unturned. In the acknowledgements section in the back of the book, she uncovered information Louie didn’t even know. Louie even said, “When I want to find out what happened to me, I call Laura.” LOL!

        Great work of non-fiction from LH. And Louie’s story is amazing because he persevered through such horror and evil. To be where Louie was and to survive it and then to build a productive life is a lesson for everyone. Reminds me of Solomon Northup’s story in TYAS. Louie and Solomon are two men who persevered through unspeakable depths of inhumanity without losing their own humanity in the process. Both remained “unbroken.”

    • kcarp says:

      I didn’t like it either. I finished it last week. I found the writing lacking, I did not like the torture stuff, and I skipped through a lot of the shark stuff.

      I know this may make me shallow but I have a hard time reading about hardships. I too felt like I didn’t need the all the information about the planes.

      I would have loved to hear more about his life after the war. I think that would have a been a good opportunity for story telling.

      While I enjoy non-fiction I do enjoy them more in a novel form. I felt like I was reading a book report.

      It’s one of those books that I feel like you are supposed to like because it is an important book.

    • Sixer says:

      @TC – I wasn’t talking about sourcing; I was talking about selectiveness. The prose is poor from an objective standpoint, as per the examples I gave. Many people don’t mind poor prose – as Virgilia notes above, GoT has some dreadfully poor prose but thousands of readers enjoy the books regardless. They focus on the characters or the plot or the worldbuilding. I do mind poor prose and that’s one of the reasons I didn’t enjoy Unbroken. Both the style errors and the lack of selectiveness are issues of poor editing – if one example or anecdote is good and makes a point, one thousand aren’t necessarily one thousand times better. The same solitary point is made. I’m an editor so this type of issue is significant in my enjoyment of a book. These are, I am happy to admit, aspects which may well be more significant to me than to many.

      However, the failure to distinguish between actual researched detail and unsubstantiated anecdote is something I think one can say should be of concern to all readers. As I said earlier, it’s tremendously difficult to criticise Unbroken without appearing simultaneously to make light of Zamperini’s experiences. And nobody would want to do that. But memories fade and coalesce over time and many of the book’s anecdotes, taken at face value by Hillenbrand, are clearly and demonstrably inaccurate. The book is thus neither an historical work of careful research nor a personal reflection/memoir but rather a mishmash of the two. And that’s rather misleading.

      • Celebitchy says:

        Some of the anecdotes sounded like big fish tales (literally, in the shark examples), I know what you mean, and how many times can she say that the prisoners maintained their dignity with small acts of rebellion? My mother also read this book and she has the same opinion as you do. There were many times when I thought passages could be cut or pared down and I also wondered how embellished some of it was. Overall I really liked the book though and found it riveting. The beginning was somewhat slow for me but once I got into it I really wanted to know what happened.

  2. Tig says:

    I can’t say enough good things about this book. The author really has a gift for including so much historical/background information in her books, and yet manages to never bog down the narrative flow. I loved Seabiscuit, and thought this book was a bit better than that.

    • really says:

      Totally agree- I thought Seabiscuit was excellent, but Unbroken blows it away. Laura H did an incredible amount of research and you definitely feel it, but, yes, the story still flows beautifully.

  3. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I am so thankful to CB for recommending this book. I read fiction about 95% of the time, so I doubt I would have read Unbroken if not for the recommendation. I found it absolutely fascinating. Difficult to read in parts, but so thought provoking about inner strength, the meaning of courage, what turns one man into a hero and another man into evil, the meaning of forgiveness, how to help someone cope with such horrific events once they’re over… so many things.

    I think Hillenbrand did a fine job with the actual events, but a poor job developing characters, especially Louis. I never understood why a child with such a loving family would be a thief and a “hoodlum” or what his personality was really like after he changed. I gathered he was great to be around and very likable, because people flocked to him and he had many friends, but she never gave me a true sense of his personality. His inner strength was obvious from events, but he never came through to me as a real person. Maybe I’m just too accustomed to fiction, where a person’s thought are described.
    Overall, though, I enjoyed the book and look forward to the movie, though I think it’s a shame it ends right after the war.

  4. lisa2 says:

    I haven’t finished reading it yes. So making my comment before this gets deep. I will finish before the film is out.. LOL.. busy at work and home so I’m reading here and there.

    I have learned a lot about him because I follow Angie news very closely. I am enjoying the journey and as someone else pointed out the history part is the most enjoyable for me. Getting a glimpse into that part of our timeline.

    He really did live an extraordinary life. It almost feels unbelievable if you didn’t know it actually did in fact happen. That is what pulls me.

    looking forward to the film

    • really says:

      Sorry- this comment was meant to be as a response to “why no character development re: Louis being a hooligan”

      I looked at that as perhaps undiagnosed ADHD or something. The family was very poor and the parents didn’t speak English. And it was way before TV shows informing folks about stuff like ADHD or PTSD and what to do about it. As far as what Laura H did or didn’t write about it, she seems to be almost more of a fact presenter than analyzer in this case, which is not a bad thing in this context- she created a real “you are there” feel. I loved the dirigible view of what was going on in the world at the time of Louis’ birth- I think I’m pretty good with history, but the brain tend to be linear about events, when in reality events/history is very simultaneous (not a great thought, but really well done by Laura H). For a poor kid from a poor area, Louis became such a citizen of the world (forced at times) – just amazing. I can see why Angelina was so moved by this story- at it’s core, it’s a story of forgiveness– reminds me of A Mighty Heart, another story of forgiveness. Forgiveness might save the world one day.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Very good point about maybe undiagnosed ADHD. I hadn’t thought of that. I also agree she was an excellent fact presenter, and as I said, my objections might stem from my fiction reading, where the character’s thoughts and feelings are filled in for you.

        The part about forgiveness blew me away. I don’t know if I could forgive someone who took pleasure in torturing me. I hope I could, and ultimately, I think forgiveness helps the forgiver as much as the forgiven, if not more, but I’ve never had someone hurt me for the sheer pleasure of it, at least not physically, so I don’t know. It also makes me think about what forgiveness actually IS, you know? I have forgiven people who hurt me in the sense that I just let it go and no longer have hostile feelings for them or carry the hurt around, but I still think what they did was wrong and no longer have a relationship with them.
        As for forgiveness saving the world, I think that’s what has to happen in Palestine. Not let’s all hug it out, but I think both sides need to just stop blaming the other and stop it. It doesn’t really matter anymore who started it or who did what. If it’s going to end, that has to be in the past, and both sides just have to stop.

      • really says:

        YES- sometimes, I want to just say, “use your words!” (Yes, I’m a mom!). If we can just move the ball forward a bit- we have to try. But, yes, I don’t know if I could be as forgiving as Mariane or Louis….I mean Louis forgiving The Bird- wow. From what I’ve seen so far in the trailers, Angelina has done an amazing job at casting. Like Fassbender in Twelve Years A Slave, Miyavi, the guy who plays The Bird really has his work cut out for him- such evil in the world.

  5. jb says:

    I just finished it and it was amazing and hard to read. It was so brutal. And brutal feels too light a word. I don’t know much of WW II – now I know more and – grim. Hildebrand really captured the Japanese spirit of the time – and I feel like somehow managed to write about the numerous war atrocities but somehow not judge them. I have lived in Japan and it is a country I have always held close to my heart – this was hard for me to read. I traveled there about 35 years ago (late 70’s) to a relatively rural area (I was 15) and there was definitely some weird ‘vibes’ that I did not understand. I think I do a little more. I also feel like there could have been better editing. I skipped around a bit because I kept thinking enough already. Overall I would reccomend it. I don’t know if I can handle the movie though.

  6. really says:

    The passages of the young boys going off to war are so heartbreaking, and, sadly, so relevant to today. Also relevant is the poor equipment that Louis & his fellow soldiers were forced to deal with- there is no good war. I wanted to scream- don’t get on that crappy plane to Louis in the book! So, yeah, I think Laura H did an excellent job of bringing Louis’ story to life. THR had a good article yesterday about Jack O’Connell- the guy who plays Louis in Unbroken. He talks about the times he met Louis:
    With Unbroken, though, O’Connell was intent on meeting the film’s real-life subject before he began portraying him on camera, saying he felt those interactions were “essential.” The two met twice prior to shooting, with the first meeting captured on camera for the DVD extras, O’Connell says. The second one, though, was more personal and allowed O’Connell to realize just how suited for that role he was.

    After hanging out with Zamperini and his family at his house, O’Connell says, “I tried on one of his jackets, which fitted, like to the inch. It looked all right on me. Everyone noticed this. That was quite a touching moment.” Since then, Zamperini has died, casting a pall on the film’s upcoming release. “I was always envisioning perhaps being on a red carpet with Louis. That’s the way I’d seen it. It’s going to be difficult conceiving otherwise now,” O’Connell says. But he already got a bit of an endorsement from Zamperini, who saw some of the footage before he died and was pleased with O’Connell’s style of running, the actor says.

  7. TheRealMaya says:

    I have to be honest – I didn’t know about this man and his remarkable life experiences until it was announced that Angelina Jolie was going to direct this movie.

    But when I read this book – well the only thing I can say is that Louis was an amazing man who not only endured all of the horrors Bird did to him but actually had it in him to forgive his tormentors genuinly.

    Everytime someone does something to hurt or betray me – I now think of Louis and I try to forgive them and just live my life without any bitterness, poison and hatred. All of these things can be heavy on ones heart and soul and that will eventually consume you.

    Regarding how this movie is going to be – Angelina wanted to make sure that whatever Louis wanted the message to be – it was going to be shown. Forgiveness and Christianity was very important to Louis and I am confident that Angelina will show that in the movie. The reason this movie was around in Hollywood for 50 years was the very reason that Louis wanted to have an influence on the story and Hollywood wasn’t ready to show religion. Angelina fought hard and fair and she is very influential and powerful in Hollywood enough to make sure that Louis was given the right to determine this movie.

    I have confidence in Angelina and I am hoping that not only will this movie be a big blockbuster but will also swipe the award season 2015.

  8. Jenni12 says:

    Brave, amazing guy,wasn’t he? <3

  9. Ennie says:

    I heard the audiobook and I loved it. His story is really worth telling.
    It gives much to think how people at war suffer, the human side of it.
    I am sad at how cruel can humans be.
    I liked very much the part where he grew from being a troubled boy, to a man capable of caring so much for others. I plan to somehow show that to my students.
    The language was not very sophisticated, but I could not put it down… er… pause it!

  10. cubfan34 says:

    I liked it a lot. I thought it was well written and an easy read.

    I do not want to see the film. Too bleak. I don’t watch films where people are locked up: prison movies, reform school movies, or mental asylum movies. I won’t watch Shawshank Redemption.

    It said they went 6 days without water on the raft. Didn’t know you could do that.

  11. aqua says:

    He’s been to hell and back and the fact that he survived is nothing short of a miracle. These men are true heroes

  12. Elle says:

    I’ve wanted to read this book for years, and Celebitchy picking it finally got me to sit down and read it. I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected – the sections on the POW camps in Japan were incredibly difficult to read, and I can’t even begin to imagine living through that.

    Like others, I did find it overwritten in places, but overall, I thought it was a really fantastic read. Really wish the film had a different director, though.

    • really says:

      If you’ve seen Angie’s other two works, I’m not sure why you don’t have hope- she’s really good & very talented. The fact no other director, man or woman, has had the strength/bravery (despite many, many others trying & failing) to get this made in the past 50 years is also a testament to Angie’s aptness for this project. Time will tell, but, like Louis, have faith! And I say that as a WAY lapsed churcher :)…Louis’s story is an inspiration to all, even if you aren’t into religion.

  13. Mike says:

    From the single picture I can guess that Angelina wishes her real father was half the man that Louis Zamperini was. Daddy Hunger does not exempt the beautiful and the famous

    • Ennie says:

      Also, her family, at least in her mother’s side does not seem to have longevity on their side.
      IDK about her elders, but she probably longen not only for a father, but probably also grandparents.
      I LOVE talking to elderly people about their lives and their youth. I am happy this film is being made for what it represents.

  14. Annie says:

    I read the book. It was OK. Seabiscuit was great. I kept wondering throughout the book if Zamperini hadn’t exaggerated or invented parts of it. Most of the eyewitnesses were dead by the time the book was written. It will be interesting to see when the film comes out (and makes more noise) if people don’t start coming out of the woodwork to contradict elements of the story. Can’t imagine though that the film will be good. Unless Jolie has removed large segments of the story, it’s impossible to turn this book into a 2 hour film, which will anger readers. If she leaves all the segments in, it will probably be incomprehensible to someone who hasn’t read the book.

    • Candy Love says:

      Did you read up about the movie?

      If you did you would know the movie is focuse on the first part of Louis life up until the Olympics. Since the Coen brothers wrote the screenplay and Jolie who cared very much about this man I say it’s in good hands.

      • Annie says:

        I’ve seen photos of the actor playing Zamperini in a lifeboat after the plane crash and the trailer shows the plane crash and the Japanese POW camp, so it looks like it’s going to be a “greatest hits”, spread very thin. As for the Coen brothers, why didn’t they film it themselves? And the Coen brothers’ days of can-do-no-wrong are over.

      • Candy Love says:

        It’s starts with his childhood go through his life up until the Olympics and he returns home but not the second part of his life/journey.

        Jolie was already named as director and in a interview last year the Coen brothers said Jolie ask them if they would write the screenplay .

  15. Nimbolicious says:

    I too binge-read this book over the past week. I was so engrossed by Louie’s story that I didn’t even notice the writing’s quality or lack thereof. I was utterly floored that one man could be faced with and triumph over so many trials, any one of which would probably break the average person; particularly compelling for me was the ordeal at sea when the men were simultaneously being shot at and taking turns patching up the deflated raft so the others could beat away the sharks that literally hurled themselves at the men. This saga reaffirmed my belief, as a spiritually-inclined person, in the considerable powers of faith and creative visualization.

    I also pondered Louie’s childhood defiance and refusal to adhere to traditional notions of authority. I felt that those aspects of his character prepared him not only to survive the later travails but to turn himself around post-war. I wonder whether, if he’d been Ritalin’d or Adderall’d-up as so many kids are these days, he would have been able in his later life to think outside the box in all those ways that literally saved his life. I think ADHD may be much more of a gift than many realize.

  16. Izzy says:

    I really enjoyed the book when I read it. I can’t say I’m looking forward to the movie, because the subject matter is so difficult, but I will watch it at least once. If this movie can make more people who are usually uncaring about it, more caring about the impact and overall atrocity of war, then Angelina Jolie will have done the story justice. I feel like that’s one main reason why it’s so important to tell these stories, in writing and on film.

  17. mmtahoe says:

    I very rarely read the comments by others on this site but tonight I must. I too do not like books about tragedy and sadness. For those commenting on the accuracy and horror of events in Unbroken I’ll just share this: I am the sixth of seven children. My father enlisted in the Army at 18, and after training was sent to fight in the 3rd army under General Patton in WW2 in 1944-45. Though he took a bullet in his shoulder, he was patched up and was sent on to Dachau when it was liberated in ’45 because he spoke German. His job there was to interrogate German soldiers. He spoke only once (at least that I know of) about his memories while one of my older brothers was taping him about 10 years ago. I finally watched the video after his passing because I couldn’t deal with it. I wish I had known earlier of what he saw, what he lived through, what none of us can ever imagine. And though he marched across France in the winter and saw many men die, what he spoke of about Dachau was beyond words. Men of that war were a spirit and class of their own, and most remained friends with others throughout their lives. My dad talked of what he knew from other men about the atrocities in the Japanese camps. Louis Zamperini was well known in these circles and if you have any doubt about the veracity of the book and the unimaginable life he suffered during the war you should stop doubting now. His story was widely collaborated by others who survived, he was respected and loved by millions of people. He gave his life over to God. Louis Zamperini, General Patton and one or two other people none of you have ever heard of were men my dad spoke of with a pride and reverence limited to few. My dad taught me almost all of my life lessons, and he became a very successful executive in a global company, yet only a few of us knew the reason for pain he carried in his eyes sometime. I loved the book, cried multiple times during the more cruel passages, and I’m so looking forward to the movie. I’ll trust it does justice to Louis life and the hundred of thousands of others who suffered and died. If we would all do one nice thing for someone else today this world would be such a better place.

    • Candy Love says:

      I also don’t get why some people are doubting the authenticity of Louis life it’s all been well documented and like you said what he was well known people at that time new of his story. I guess some people can’t believe one person can go through so much and come out a better person for it.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        I don’t understand the doubting, either. The story, as mmtahoe says, is very well corroborated. I think the doubting is some form of denial.

      • TC says:

        I’m in agreement with all of you. The idea that this story is merely anecdotal is just beyond belief in my opinion. Plus, Laura Hillenbrand was lucky enough to get her hands on the prison journals that were kept by a few of the Japan POWs that Louie didn’t even know about.

    • Lilly says:

      Thanks for your inspiring and moving comments mmtahoe. Love to see more non-fiction in the book club. I highly recommend The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks for a future selection.

    • Sixer says:

      Hey guys. You mean me, right?! The solitary naysayer!

      Not denial, GNAT. Seriously. Mr Sixer’s great-uncle was a POW on the Burma Railway (A Bridge Too Far) so we know only too well what it was like. My own grandfather fought in the European theatre right from 1939 to 1945 (and didn’t get home until 1946). In fact, I would say that by criticising technical aspects of the book AND some of the nigh-on purple prose, I’m actually saying that Zamperini (and others like him) deserve BETTER. I’m sorry, but for me, it’s just not a good book. That says nothing bad about Zamperini or his comrades. It says something ONLY about the book.

      • Candy Love says:

        I wasn’t referring to you but another poster.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        No, sweetie, not you. There’s a poster above who actually says she thinks Louis embellished his story and people will come forward to contradict his claims.

        I thought your points were fair and reasoned.

  18. BlackBetty says:

    Interested in this story. I can’t comprehend how someone can stay alive after so much horror? How did he not give up? I’ll keep an eye out for this book.

  19. Betti says:

    This will make me cry and to be fair to Angelina, she is a better producer/director than she is an actress and for the other side of the camera I would like to see her get an Oscar – she has talent for it.

  20. Victoria 1 says:

    I think it picked up in the shark chapter, after that I could not put it down. My friend and I were reading it together and she was beating me because I found the beginning so slow. I guess as others said the author needed to lay down the ground work. It’s a must read especially for kids in school, high school when they cover American history. I feel like this could be more interesting than textbooks. But this man is inspirational and the men of that generation can not be duplicated. When veterans day and memorial day came ill definitely think of the men in this book.

  21. ann says:

    I’m going to try and get my book at the library. Thanks for posting CB.

  22. Pants says:

    Fun Fact: Jeanne Theoharis was one of my college professors!