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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

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Performance
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  •  
    Tina Anoka, MN, United States 05-11-12
    Tina Anoka, MN, United States 05-11-12
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    "not normally my genre but I loved it"

    I generally don't enjoy history stories because they never grab my attention but this one had me hooked! I listened to the whole thing in a matter of 2 days. Seriously, fantastic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcy Fairfield, CT, United States 05-07-12
    Marcy Fairfield, CT, United States 05-07-12 Member Since 2003
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    "Harrowing and Fascinating"

    The strength and integrity of Louis Zamporini shines through every minute of this story that is expertly told both by author and narrator. I am not generally a World War II buff, but this story reached me and I simultaneously wanted to reach the end and never wanted to. This is a story I will never forget. I recommend this to just about anyone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dennis United States 05-07-12
    Dennis United States 05-07-12 Member Since 2010

    Listening with interest

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    "Fantastic book. Performance is exceptional"
    Would you listen to Unbroken again? Why?

    I loved the performance, kept me on the edge of my seat (literally, I was listening in my car) as the actors transported me to WW2 .


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Unbroken?

    The time on the life raft was chilling and inspirational


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jaclyn St.Andrews, MB, Canada 05-06-12
    Jaclyn St.Andrews, MB, Canada 05-06-12 Member Since 2009
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    "incredible"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    An outstanding, moving, incredulous story. I had not known the horror of the Japanese POW camps, nor had I imagined that someone could live through them. What an inspiring story.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy Kansas city, MO, United States 05-02-12
    Amy Kansas city, MO, United States 05-02-12 Member Since 2005
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    "OUTSTANDING!!!!!!!!"
    Where does Unbroken rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is the BEST book I have ever read or listened to! You will not regret this purchase!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leslie Thousand Oaks, CA, United States 04-30-12
    Leslie Thousand Oaks, CA, United States 04-30-12 Member Since 2006
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    "Amazing Human Spirit!"
    What did you love best about Unbroken?

    I enjoyed the style of writing and the detail that was just enough to make me feel a part of the story. The tedium of Louis Zamperini's exhausting trials were portrayed through words and length and description.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Unbroken?

    There were so many. Not wanting to ruin the story for another reader, suffice it to say I most remember the moments when through all calamity, misery or pain, Louis Zamperini showed the strength of character that amazes and inspires me to rise to greater heights.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Can't say or it would ruin the story for another.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Again, there were so many that made me reflect on my life's trials and how I handle them and how much we can actually get through and not only survive but thrive.


    Any additional comments?

    This book was long and exhausting but only because I felt like I had to suffer along with Mr. Zamperini and so wanted to get him out! It is our trials more than our triumphs that help us to grow. He was a giant of a person and proved it throughout the rest of his life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tom allen highland, in USA 04-29-12
    tom allen highland, in USA 04-29-12 Member Since 2000
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    "outstanding triumph over adversity"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Unbroken to be better than the print version?

    listening works for me and gives me a richer picture of a story like this


    What did you like best about this story?

    the development of the story spanned the entire lifetime progression of this real person. it allowed the reader/listener some feelings without overwhelming the story with any unrealistic perspectives relating to these unrealistic circumstances. my imagination was easily able to fit between the details in the story. it was discreetly graphic to a polite cautious unoffensive extent while still exposing horrific events. it was devoid of arrogance or ego and allowed the instinct to survive ring throughout.


    What about Edward Herrmann’s performance did you like?

    his wonderful voice contributed to letting the story come thru without being monotone and delivering a thrilling involvement for the reader/listener the full flavor of the author's story for our surviving hero.


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

    I was humbled with the endurance that person can be capable of surviving. I was sorrowed by the lasting physiological affects these experiences have on people then joyed by the redemption one acquires with maturity.


    Any additional comments?

    the motivations for and in war may never be completely understood. someday we may abandoned this as a human endeavor. the darkness of what evil resides within people under such circumstances goes beyond imagination.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    David Westfield, NJ, USA 04-27-12
    David Westfield, NJ, USA 04-27-12 Member Since 2007

    I listen in the car while i drive. I have eclectic tastes in books and if it interests me I listen till its over.

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    "Amazing and inspiring."
    What made the experience of listening to Unbroken the most enjoyable?

    The fact that somehow you knew Zamporini would come thru it and be ok.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Unbroken?

    Robbing his way thru Germany and the olympics.


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

    It can't be listened to in one sitting. It is too intense. I had to take a day or two off before i could go back to some scenes.


    Any additional comments?

    No matter how scared you get or worried he won't come thru listen on. Somehow he makes you feel ok with it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Neil PARKER, CO, United States 04-27-12
    Neil PARKER, CO, United States 04-27-12 Member Since 2010
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    "An amazing story, told fairly well"

    My hopes were high for this story, because it had been so highly recommended. I was just a little disappointed. Don't get me wrong - the story's an amazing one, and the author seems to do a decent enough job of catching the story. It's a good portrait of some amazing people. Just not in the outstanding category for me personally in terms of storytelling.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Elizabeth San Rafael, CA, United States 04-27-12
    Elizabeth San Rafael, CA, United States 04-27-12 Member Since 2004

    I love books! They have always added so much to my world. Between being a busy mom, having a demanding career, and keeping my household running smoothly, I have zero free time to just sit and read a book. Audible allows me to keep up with my reading (or "reading") while I'm working or driving or cooking or cleaning the house. I enjoy that so much - I love Audible!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This book is riveting and incredibly moving!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes! It is a fascinating story, which also gives amazing insight into a critical time in history. It is so humbling to learn what was endured by our Pacific P.O.W's. The core message that I received from the book is that man's true strength lies in his capacity for endurance and resilience.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I loved most of the characters, even the awful ones, because they were so believable. The author does such a good job of developing and humanizing her characters - even when they are unimaginably evil people.


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

    I love his voice - he added gravitas to the book. Also, his inflection helped me to better understand some of the Japanese terms that I might have struggled with in reading the book.


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

    I could have listened to it all in one sitting, although it was a bit too long for that to be practical. I listened to it all over a few days while doing housework, etc. It was excellent and I definitely got a lot more done just to have an excuse to listen a bit longer each time.


    Any additional comments?

    I am very moved and inspired by this book. I learned so much that I did not already know about the Pacific War. Also, it reminded me that humans can be so resilient and have such a capacity to endure the unendurable, process the effects, and then seek happiness in whatever new form it takes. It is quite a life affirming message in the midst of a horrific history of the Pacific P.O.W.'s experiences.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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