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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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  •  
    CBlox Las Vegas, NV 12-06-10
    CBlox Las Vegas, NV 12-06-10 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "impossible to push pause!"

    You wont want this story to end. Great account of WWII as well as pre-war Germany/U.S. If you liked Band of Brothers, Ghost Soldiers or Tears in the Darkness you will love this book!

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Holley st louis, MO, United States 12-01-10
    Holley st louis, MO, United States 12-01-10 Member Since 2006
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    "Mesmerizing"

    Along with "Tears of Darkness,"a nuanced yet straight forward look at great American heroes. Not to be missed.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David INDIAN LAND, SC, United States 12-01-10
    David INDIAN LAND, SC, United States 12-01-10 Member Since 2003
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    "Why have I not heard this story before?!?!"

    An excellent true-life account of Louis Zamperini and his comrades during WWII and their internment in Japanese prison camps! Laura Hillenbrand does a wonderful job bringing history to life and putting the reader right on the front lines with the characters. This is a must read for anybody who is facing life's hardships. Sure puts things into perspective and reminds me all over again, of the truly amazing willpower and the sacrifices made by the Veterans who served during WWII and America's other campaigns throughout history. Kudos to Laura Hillenbrand on another wonderful work. Excellent author. Excellent story. Excellent narrator. Home run! Also, Check out Seabiscuit: An American Legend by the same author. It is also extremely well written. I didn't expect to enjoy it as I'm not that interested in horse racing--but, as in Unbroken, she really brought the era to life.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frank Norfolk, VA, United States 11-29-10
    Frank Norfolk, VA, United States 11-29-10 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "one of the best"

    One of the best I have listened to. Not only did I enjoy the book but learned much history that would have never heard. A great listen

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert SOUTH PASADENA, CA, United States 11-27-10
    Robert SOUTH PASADENA, CA, United States 11-27-10 Member Since 2003
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    "STRANGER THAN FICTION"

    An amazing life story. Told in a way that kept me enthralled from beginning to end. Loved it! 5 stars all the way!

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 03-09-11
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 03-09-11 Member Since 2002
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    "i cried"

    The combination of words and wonderful narration of this book made me feel as if I was there. While this was a heartbreaking story, it was a real reminder of the brutality of war.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ella toronto,, Ontario, Canada 01-13-11
    Ella toronto,, Ontario, Canada 01-13-11 Member Since 2005

    Knowledge is knowing the way. Wisdom is looking for an alternative, more interesting road to get there. Audiobooks are that road.

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    "Reads like a 5 Star Thriller"

    Hillenbrand expertly sets out to depict the life of Louis Zamperini, a child who was bullied, a brazen thief, an Olympic runner, a military pilot, a survivor of WW2.

    She begins with his childhood, where his personality is molded by circumstance. His courage and tenacious personality have everything to do with his survival. After painting a picture of his prewar life, we accompany Louis into WW2. His adventures of flying a B24 bomber, his close calls and that of his fellow officers are riveting. This part of the book described one military action after another. Although it was expertly told, the military operations ran on a little to long for my liking and I thought I had picked an inappropriate book for my taste. Alas, I persevered through that section which took me to the most captivating stories I have ever read about WW2. Louis’ plane was shot down and he ended up drifting on a raft in the Pacific. This part of the book is explained in such detail, I found myself holding my breath in parts.

    The journey continues to the Japanese POW camps where the American soldiers were starved, tortured both physically and mentally. You get to know the soldiers and the actual men who tortured them. This part of the book introduces one of the most notorious war criminals, Mutsuhiro Watanabe, nicknamed “The Bird”. Louis became The Bird’s pet project and he relentlessly tried to break him both physically and mentally. These scenes were difficult to get through.

    Hillenbrand skillfully takes you through the liberation of the camps, the survivors, the fallen, the war criminals and what happens to all of them after the war. It never ends with being liberated; the mind continues to fester long after the physical ordeal is over.

    It is clear Laura Hillenbrand did extensive research . Her accounts are so detailed it reads like one of the best fiction thriller stories of all time, but this one is true. The narrator did a fine job at reading.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B.J. Minneapolis, MN, United States 12-14-10
    B.J. Minneapolis, MN, United States 12-14-10 Member Since 2007

    I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.

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    "This is a winner"

    This author has a unique way of making events come to life. I had to keep reminding myself that it was non-fiction. Wonderfully written and narrated, my only complaint is that it wasn't longer. Great book.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
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    Papa.Jack 12-14-10
    Papa.Jack 12-14-10 Member Since 2009
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    "Wow! An incredible story of survival"

    What is the audio equivalent of a page turner? Ear-grabber? Whatever. This is it. I couldn't stop listening. Edward Herrmann is just icing on the cake. He is the best reader in the game.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wayne Valley Springs, CA, United States 12-02-10
    Wayne Valley Springs, CA, United States 12-02-10 Member Since 2005
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    "A GREAT AMERICAN HERO STORY OF SURVIVAL."

    What a an inspirational story. How these men stood all the torture and still survived Is amazing. It makes you proud of our military men and women.

    15 of 16 people found this review helpful
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