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Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption | [Laura Hillenbrand]

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

Why we think it’s a great listen: Seabiscuit was a runaway success, and Hillenbrand’s done it again with another true-life account about beating unbelievable odds. On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.....
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential - Whether your listening preferences usually point you to history tomes, adventure thrillers, or fiction with well-developed characters, Unbroken will hook you...and won’t let go. Laura Hillenbrand, previously of Seabiscuit fame, tells the fascinating story of Louis Zamperini – troubled youth, Olympic athlete, airman, and survivor – and you won’t believe how interested you’ll become in even the tiniest of details of his life. Much of that interest is thanks to narrator Edward Herrmann, who elevates this tremendous example of narrative nonfiction to masterful storytelling. — Diana D.

Publisher's Summary

On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.

Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane's bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant's name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he'd been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit. Telling an unforgettable story of a man's journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.

©2010 Laura Hillenbrand; ©2010 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"Unbroken is wonderful twice over, for the tale it tells and for the way it’s told. A better book than Seabiscuit, it manages maximum velocity with no loss of subtlety. [Hillenbrand has] a jeweler’s eye for a detail that makes a story live." (Newsweek)

"A master class in narrative storytelling…Extraordinarily moving...A powerfully drawn survival epic." (The Wall Street Journal)

"Ambitious and powerful… Hillenbrand is intelligent and restrained, and wise enough to let the story unfold for itself. Her research is thorough, her writing crystalline. Unbroken is gripping in an almost cinematic way." (The New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (11884 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Paul BLUE SPRINGS, MO, United States 07-31-12
    Paul BLUE SPRINGS, MO, United States 07-31-12 Member Since 2009
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    "gripping and unbelievable"
    What did you like best about this story?

    It tied the history of world war 2 in the Pacific theater into a gripping and unforgettable true story!


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I went through all the emotions during the course of this audio book.


    Any additional comments?

    This story certainly reminds us of the extreme cruelty of war, and the inflictions raised on our fellow humans. It also shows the kindness even our adversary's can show.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phyllis Albany, NY, United States 07-30-12
    Phyllis Albany, NY, United States 07-30-12
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    3
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    Story
    "Extremely engaging!"
    What did you love best about Unbroken?

    Vivid descriptions of characters and events. Very involving. Each chapter had twists and turns. Unpredictable.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I couldn't stop thinking about the characters and circumstances that anti-semetism, War and Nazi era brought upon peoples.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peggy Young Calabasas, CA USA 07-30-12
    Peggy Young Calabasas, CA USA 07-30-12
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    1
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    Story
    "Incredible Story"
    What made the experience of listening to Unbroken the most enjoyable?

    Narrator did excellent job of injecting true emotion into the story


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Louie of course. Amazing that this one individual could have such a profound impact on our society and that he could chronicle his life in such detail.


    What does Edward Herrmann bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The emotion of the words and the inflections on the communication of events and thought processes of protaganists. It was almost as good as being there.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    for the most part yes.


    Any additional comments?

    One of the best books I have ever read. Again, it is amazing that Laura Hillibrand found this story and did such an excellent job of communicating the events of 20 years in such detail

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    barbara rockaway, NJ, United States 07-30-12
    barbara rockaway, NJ, United States 07-30-12 Member Since 2012
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    2
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    Story
    "so moving and knowledgeable"
    Where does Unbroken rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    the listening is just perfect. he reads with the perfect grace and inflections


    Any additional comments?

    we all know so ,many world war 2 stories but how many really feel what the lives of the POW camps were like and the endurance levels some of our guys actually have. just unreal

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel HOUSTON, TX, United States 07-30-12
    Daniel HOUSTON, TX, United States 07-30-12 Member Since 2010
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    Story
    "outstanding"
    What made the experience of listening to Unbroken the most enjoyable?

    The history intertwined with the personal story of Louie Z was remarkably well done.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Unbroken?

    the experience on the raft


    What about Edward Herrmann’s performance did you like?

    beautifully read...great intonation


    Any additional comments?

    I learned so much.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dennis Charlestown, MA, United States 07-27-12
    Dennis Charlestown, MA, United States 07-27-12 Member Since 2011

    Born and raised in the Charlestown section of Boston. Irish-American, music (punk rock), crime & history, or anything having to do with those are my favorite subjects.

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    "Unvelievably true story."

    One of my favorite books ever. Read the hardcover & then listened to the audiobook. The writer paints a picture of what this American hero went through in such vivid detail you can picture the events & places and happenings as if you were there. Great book about a great man with an unbelievable story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ralph Alswang Washington, DC United States 07-26-12
    Ralph Alswang Washington, DC United States 07-26-12 Member Since 2005
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    5
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    "Powerful"
    Where does Unbroken rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is powerful book. I would put it at the top of any list!!!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Unbroken?

    The end!


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Eating the sharks


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me do both. The history and emotion of the story will pull you everywhere!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Josh BETHEL PARK, PA, United States 07-25-12
    Josh BETHEL PARK, PA, United States 07-25-12 Member Since 2012
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    9
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    "Unbelievable"

    I had to keep reminding myself that the events in this book actually happened.... Unbroken is an incredible story of survival, perseverance and forgiveness.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wendi Overland Park, KS, United States 07-25-12
    Wendi Overland Park, KS, United States 07-25-12 Member Since 2011

    Canadian girl in Kansas, love audible, books on kindle or kindle fire, and old fashioned books! I enjoy fiction most, mostly books with strong female leads. Favourite authors: Diana Gabaldon, Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, Wally Lamb, Pat Conroy, Andre Dubus III, Lisa Genova, many more!

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    "Astounding, Unforgettable"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would absolutely recommend this book to a friend. I had my father read it and he became enraptured and read the entire book while he was in hospital for heart surgery. This is such a beautiful and ghastly story, and it shows a human's ability to survive over all else. This book touched my heart.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Of course the main character, Louis Zamperini, who endured like many of his fellow POW, more than the human body and spirit can take. I loved him for his endurance, and his resilience, and his fight for survival even though there were many times that survival seemed unattainable. He is a true American Hero.


    Which character – as performed by Edward Herrmann – was your favorite?

    Again, Louie was wonderful, but the narrator gave a great performance. I also liked Pete, Louie's older brother, and all of the inmates that Louie spent time with. The narration was the perfect tone. I listened to it at 2.0 and I absolutely loved every minute of it.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    I would simply make it the same as the perfect title of the book, 'Unbroken.'


    Any additional comments?

    This book is hard to get through at times. It's amazing the cruelty that one person can inflict upon another. However it is worth the read and it's inspiring and it gives hope to people who might not think they can get through the worst possible situation. I also learned a lot more about the Pacific during WWII. Educational and alluring, this was definitely one of the best pieces of non-fiction I've ever read. I recommend this to anyone who needs inspiration, and also, everyone should give Mr. Zamperini the respect he deserves by reading this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christina Norco, CA, United States 07-22-12
    Christina Norco, CA, United States 07-22-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Amazing story! Incredibly humbling!!"
    What did you love best about Unbroken?

    I loved hearing about all the heros in that era who, despite being in the most dire of circumstances, had the fighting spirit to not give up. I also discovered more reasons to be proud of this Country and our Military. Very inspirational and at times heartbreaking.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I most liked Louie Zamporini! Hearing about his childhood then learning about all the phases of his life, it made me realize how powerful God has made some of us. He is an amazing person and true American Hero. His ability to be strong despite all that he went through was quite inspirational.


    Have you listened to any of Edward Herrmann’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This is the first time I've listened to Edward Herrmann's performance. I really enjoyed it!!


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    A life so amazing that Hollywood writer's wouldn't have had the creativity to pen!


    Any additional comments?

    There was so much about WWII that I never knew until I read this book. I loved the lesson and the human story!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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