BOOK REVIEW: UNBROKEN – The Next ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’

Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand

In similar vein as Victor Frankl’s paradigm shifting book, “Unbroken” is a fascinating and mind-bending narrative that will change the way you think about everything – forever.

It’s a tale of unbridled optimism, unshakeable belief, and remarkable courage. A ground-breaking work along the lines of ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’.

It is the life story of Louis Zamperini, a typical teenage troublemaker who discovers his hidden talent for long distance running and dreams of Olympic glory, or even breaking the 4 minute mile – before World War 2 breaks, wafting him along a different path to his destiny.

Laura Hillenbrand’s gripping narrative is of a style and class that’s rare and precious. She says her struggle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) forced her to live life vicariously – through her imagination. Thankfully, we can join her without any of the hardship of facing CFS… through her incredible writing.

For several wonderstruck hours I remained lost to my surroundings, accompanying ‘Zamp the champ’ as he stole pastries from a bakery, ran at the Olympics, carried out bombing raids, drifted on a raft in the lonely Pacific, fought off sharks and starvation, suffered assaults and attacks in a PoW camp… and I went through every emotional nuance and special moment in a marvelous and unique way that makes reading UNBROKEN a magical experience.

My favorite bit was when Louie is confined to prison on an atoll nicknamed “Execution Island” in the Pacific Ocean, a captive of the Japanese military. In his small cell where he exists in constant fear of being suddenly summoned to his execution, he scrawls his name under a list of nine PoWs, all of whom had been killed earlier.

Months later, in another camp, he meets a fellow soldier who had been imprisoned on the same island. The guy tells him how seeing Louie’s name on a list of condemned prisoners, and being told that he survived, was what kept his hopes alive. “If Louie could make it, so can I” he told himself – and made it through the war alive.

Little do we know how big an impact our smallest acts can have!

UNBROKEN is testimony to the strength and resilience of the human spirit, expressed by way of the life story of a young lieutenant in the US air force during WW2.

There are lessons in it that go far beyond any individual, any event, any nationality – and speak to the depths of the power and energy that transcend all man-made boundaries to resonate in the core of the human soul and spirit.

I found UNBROKEN through a Facebook discussion started by Ken McArthur asking about books anyone had read through at least FIVE times. I can see myself reading UNBROKEN five times (if not more) over the years to come.

Even if you’re feeling suicidal or depressed, apathetic or disheartened, overwhelmed or weary, this is a story with the potential to bring you back to life. To enthuse and energize you, inspire and motivate you, reorient and reassure you… that life is a blessing, a meaningful and purpose-driven journey, a gift.

5 stars, 2 thumbs up, highly recommended!

BUY “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption”

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