Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Readin': Unbroken

Laura Hillenbrand is a great writer. She writes non-fiction that reads as well as any novel. Her first book was Seabiscuit in 2000. That book was quite popular and very good. It eventually got made into a movie and rightly so. Because she can tell a story clearly and well, because she is able to bring the characters in her stories to life in a way that makes us care about them, because she is able to convey the inherent drama in the story she is telling; her books already read like a movie script.

Her latest book, Unbroken, A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption is no different. The main focus of the book is Louis Zemperrini. Louie was a boyhood hooligan and an Olympic runner who came close to breaking (and perhaps would have had things been different) the 4:00 minute mile barrier. He ran in the 1936 Olympics in the 5,000 meter race as a 19-year-old against 26-30 year olds and placed fourth. It was only the fourth time he had run a race at that distance.

World War II intervened. Louie became a bombardier in the Army Air Force, the precursor to the USAF. He was aboard a B-24 that crashed in the Pacific while looking for another plane that had gone down. He and the other two survivors spent 47 days on an inflatable raft, longer than any humans had. At the end of that, they were, unfortunately, picked up by a Japanese boat. Louie spent the next 2 1/2 years in various Japanese POW camps.

Unbroken is a brutal, hopeful, magnificent book. After reading it, I have so much admiration for what people are able to overcome. Louie had a hard time for several years after returning to the US, but in the end made it. He's still alive, at least he was at the time the book was written.

Reading either of Laura's books is a sure bet. They are both awesome.

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About Me

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I'm currently 60 years old. I currently work as the learning management system specialist for American University of Madaba in Madaba, Jordan. I was originally certified as a high-school English teacher and taught school for 13 years (1 year of substituting, 1 year of 7th grade, 2 years of a combined 5th, 6th, 7th grade, 9 years of 8th grade). I've worked for hardware and software companies for the past 23 years doing training, training materials development, certification test development and other education related stuff. My wife and I have raised four children to adulthood; some of them live at home at the moment, but that won't last (they're too independent for that). We live at home with 2 Golden Retrievers, 2 black cats, a crazy cat, and, during the winter, 70,000 coho salmon.