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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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  •  
    Wendy VANCOUVER, WA, United States 08-19-12
    Wendy VANCOUVER, WA, United States 08-19-12 Member Since 2000
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    "Stranger than fiction"

    You just can't make this story up. Louis is a complex guy. But how he managed to survive is beyond amazing. It's a story of resilience without making him out to be a hero. Just a human being like the rest of us who managed to come through. And you just have to wonder at the darkness of humanity that let such horrors happen. That he then found the grace to forgive is even more amazing. Edward Hermann's narration does it all justice.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marti ARDEN, NC, United States 08-17-12
    Marti ARDEN, NC, United States 08-17-12
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    "Amazing!"
    What did you love best about Unbroken?

    So well written that you actually feel like you're there.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Would have to be the main character


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

    Narration was excellent.


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

    Not really any reaction but certainly kept my attention.


    Any additional comments?

    I needed to drive for 8 hours from Woodbridge, VA to Asheville, NC. recently. I listened to the first half of the book on the way down and actually finished the book as I was pulling into the parking lot at home on the return trip. Really made the trip a pleasure! I already have another book downloaded for my next trip!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donna 08-14-12
    Donna 08-14-12
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    "Fantastic"
    What did you love best about Unbroken?

    It's an incredible, true story so well-written I almost felt like I was there. I could see the characters and environments vividly as the story unfolded. I loved the book and sent it to my father who was a WWII vet who flew in the South Pacific during the war.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Louis, of course. He was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things and the author was able to show him in a very full and layered fashion.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    That's very hard to say - there were so many different times and places.


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

    Yes, when Louis was able to forgive and went back to Japan to face his captors.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Scarsdale, NY, United States 08-14-12
    William Scarsdale, NY, United States 08-14-12

    wgreenberg

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    "Best audio book I have listened to yet!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This book was a truly amazing story giving a historical perspective of WWII as well.


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

    Yes


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    justinashworth Battle Ground, WA 08-13-12
    justinashworth Battle Ground, WA 08-13-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Absolutely stunning"
    What did you love best about Unbroken?

    The story, the characters, the reader. All were absolutely incredible.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Unbroken?

    The stunning turnaround in Louis Z's life at the end.


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

    No, but now I want to.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher J. Bromen Anchorage 08-13-12
    Christopher J. Bromen Anchorage 08-13-12 Member Since 2012
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    "All Americans must listen to this incredible story"

    This is truly an incredible story about what our POWs in the Pacific theater of WWII endured. I've been Air Force officer for 18 years and am a pretty good student of military history, but must say I am a little ashamed to not have known a lot about this part of WWII. If anyone feels their life is tough, just read/listen to this story and you will gain a completely new perspective, and a deeper appreciation for being an American.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew United States 08-13-12
    Andrew United States 08-13-12
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    "FANTASTIC"
    Where does Unbroken rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    The story of Louis Zamporini is like none other... you will never regret buying this book. even for full price. The reader I think is the guy who does the history channel. His voice is amazing and it will hook you to audiobooks for a lifetime.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Unbroken?

    the Sharks, oh the sharks. thats the point where you wont ever go back


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

    Louise


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

    Laugh... many times. and feel a lot of other things too.


    Any additional comments?

    wonderfully done edward and laura. your work has made me have a few great days... thats all it took to get through that book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A User Lake City, FL, United States 08-12-12
    A User Lake City, FL, United States 08-12-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Excellent narrator"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Unbroken to be better than the print version?

    This audio edition has been my favorite so far.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The story is an outstanding one of courage and bravery that is unmatched in any other accounts that I have read.


    What about Edward Herrmann’s performance did you like?

    Mr. Herrmann's narration was superb. His voice was strong like the character and easy to listen to.


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

    The entire story was gripping. I have no particular favorite chapters, they all were outstanding.


    Any additional comments?

    What a story of survival! I hope to find additional selections narrated by Mr. Herrmann.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer United States 08-12-12
    Amazon Customer United States 08-12-12 Listener Since 2006
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    "Thank you Laura, for sharing this story!"
    Where does Unbroken rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is one of the most poweful books I have ever had the pleasure of listening to.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Unbroken?

    When Louie receives the Lord and finds release from his demons.


    Any additional comments?

    As I ponder this book at it's end, I am so amazed by the atrocities suffered by these men, yet they survived and went on to live productive lives. I am moved beyond words. This is the first review I have written. I just had to share my thoughts. Please listen to this book. You will be touched in ways I cannot describe.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janelle LODI, CA, United States 08-12-12
    Janelle LODI, CA, United States 08-12-12 Listener Since 2009
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    "If you love an underdog story, this is for you!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Unbroken to be better than the print version?

    While I'm sure I would have loved reading Unbroken as well as listening to it I would have to say in this case the audio version wins out. Edward Herrmann had such a smooth and calming quality to his voice as well as a historical and intelligent edge. I would listen to anything he read.


    What other book might you compare Unbroken to and why?

    I'm not sure if I could compare a book to Unbroken because I feel as though there has not been a book I've read quite like it. I love the combination of the historical information as well as the human element as we follow Louis' journey from a small boy to a grown man in a POW camp. I would have to say that the closest match that I've come across would be "The Devil In The White City" by Erik Larson. Although, while being similar in historical facts and great storytelling I feel that Larson's book lacked the human emotion quality that Unbroken had. Louis' story definitely stole my heart and will stay on my mind for years to come.


    What about Edward Herrmann’s performance did you like?

    I loved the fact that his performance made me feel calm and relaxed. It was as if I was 10 years old again and I was listening to my grandfather regale me with tales of his youth. I literally wanted to curl up under the covers and just listen to him paint a picture of this incredible man's journey.


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

    Definitely! Although time and my busy schedule did not permit me so. The beginning was good but a bit slow to start as the author had to familiarize the listener/reader with the protagonist's beginnings so that we could see why he had made the choices he did in his later life. I feel that because of the back story I knew Louis' almost as well as I knew a friend or neighbor and that made the story so much more real and charming. Once the story got to around the middle where the height of the suspense was I did feel like I did not want to put the book down (or in my case my headphones down!)


    Any additional comments?

    I'm so glad that I came across Unbroken on Audible and I'm glad that I decided to give it a listen. The story will forever be in my heart and it is definitely one I am recommending to all my friends and family.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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