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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

thoughts on: Unbroken

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and RedemptionUnbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

In a book describing the horrific treatments of American POWs held by Japan, the most startling realization it holds is: why do we so quickly forget? I do not mean, why do we not hold a grudge longer. I mean, why do we forget that men have endured horrors beyond our imaginings? Why are we so unwilling to hear and believe the stories of our veterans, and remember them.

Like Holocaust memoirs, Unbroken takes us to the point where a person has been stripped of every thing possible. Even the flesh on their bones has been starved away. They are left with nothing except what they can muster from within their souls. We see both the very best and the very worst of mankind, and we ponder our own hearts, our own untested strength, in light of it.

Zamperini was one of our best. In his story, we recognize, as he did, both the sheer will to survive, and the divine at work in his life. The former may have been sufficient for his physical survival, but not for his ultimate healing.

Laura Hillenbrand deserves every bit of praise she has received for Unbroken. A vivid storyteller, she interweaves background on the state of aviation without interrupting the narrative flow. She describes the living terror of being a POW without overwhelming the reader with overly graphic details. She treats her subjects with the dignity which was deprived of them by their captors.

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