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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 (11110 )
5 star
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4.7 (7150 )
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1 star
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Story
4.7 (7118 )
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Dr. J Rockville, MD United States 01-09-12
    Dr. J Rockville, MD United States 01-09-12 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    168
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Too long"

    This is a book that should have been edited down to half its size. There is way too much detail on minutia of events that are only tangential to the main story line. Louis Zamporini's life is certainly a great tale and the book is very good, but it could have been much better without all the "filler". If fact, you can skip the first quarter of the book entirely (his childhood), begin reading at his running in the Olympic games in Germany, and have a much better book (or screenplay). I'm not one to read abridged books, but in this case I wish I had.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carole United States 12-20-11
    Carole United States 12-20-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Disappointed"
    What did you like best about Unbroken? What did you like least?

    The development of a young man into a runner was fascinating. The adventures
    of his wartime experience was gripping but his return home and failure to find
    peace was not well written and the search for his Japanese torturer was too long, read far too quickly so that the last third of the book was uneven and did not match the interest
    of the earlier chapters.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Laura Hillenbrand? Why or why not?

    No. Could be the reader was not good enough but the story was not cohesive enough.


    What three words best describe Edward Herrmann’s performance?

    Uneven. too rapid


    Could you see Unbroken being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Yes. Michael Crowe could do it.


    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    09-17-11
    09-17-11 Member Since 2009
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Felt Nothing"

    I may be one of the few but I just did not like this book. Even though I thought some of the stats were interesting (horrifying at times) there was just too much of it. I felt bored and did not feel for the main character like I should have after such a story. Maybe just me.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CESAR Lower Gwynedd, PA, United States 07-07-11
    CESAR Lower Gwynedd, PA, United States 07-07-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Ughh!!!"

    Not my kind of war story. I consider myself well learned on war in general, including the plight of POWs. I have read enough literature on just about all aspects of war. So that is why I chose this book. To me it just droned on and on. I could not wait for it to end. this is my critique on the book itself, not the realities it tries to portray. A lot of folks like it apparently, not me.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jacksonkotu glendale, ca, United States 06-09-11
    jacksonkotu glendale, ca, United States 06-09-11 Member Since 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    11
    5
    Overall
    "Hoping I missed something"

    I hope that I missed something here because I just don't get how this book would be entertaining. I was bored, depressed and couldn't get myself interested. Missed me.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lee Orlando, Florida 02-22-11
    Lee Orlando, Florida 02-22-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    30
    2
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    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "About 6 hours too long"

    The sugar sweet prose praising, complimenting and never ending superlatives for Louis were annoying by listening hour two, nerve grating by hour four, fingernails on blackboard by hour six and I stopped listening about 8 hours in.

    The action adventure stuff was incredible, but is was just too, too much with how wonderful and perfect our hero was.

    1 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William OLYMPIA, WA, United States 02-09-11
    William OLYMPIA, WA, United States 02-09-11 Member Since 2008

    Drive for work and listen all day long. Audible is a God send as it lifts me from traffic and off to an adventure!!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    72
    23
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
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    Overall
    "Its a passable listen, Its like Biography Channel"

    It well written and okay, but far from a life changer, I sure you will be able to see the story on the biography channel. Same guy, A bed time story reader, don't listen in the evening

    1 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phyllis Albuquerque, NM, United States 01-10-11
    Phyllis Albuquerque, NM, United States 01-10-11 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    22
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "PL"

    Compelling story but poorly edited. The book drags while at sea and in the prison camp. My family groaned when it was January and we knew the Japanese didn't surrender until August.

    1 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    adam coralville, IA, United States 12-02-10
    adam coralville, IA, United States 12-02-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    110
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    49
    13
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    6
    0
    Overall
    "Great narration weak writing"

    The story itself is quite engaging on the surface but it seems very clear that an agenda is being pursued with this story that makes it, frankly, difficult to believe and that ultimately ruins the narrative. Ed Herman is aces though.

    5 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Santa Fe, NM, United States 12-22-10
    Mark Santa Fe, NM, United States 12-22-10 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
    133
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    232
    52
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "Prosaic and Saccharine"

    I must have a read a completely different book from most of the reviewers. Although this is a relatively well crafted book, the story is so riddled with unrealistic and repeated scenarios, shallow characters, and simplistic saccharine solutions to complex issues that it was genuinely hard to finish. Characters were shallow and most were totally uninteresting. I thought it odd that by the end of the book, I knew a lot about the main characters, but did not actually know them as people. On the plus side, I did find the history notes quite interesting.

    4 of 19 people found this review helpful
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