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Unbroken Audiobook

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

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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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  •  
    Holley st louis, MO, United States 12-01-10
    Holley st louis, MO, United States 12-01-10 Member Since 2016
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    "Mesmerizing"

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

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frank Norfolk, VA, United States 11-29-10
    Frank Norfolk, VA, United States 11-29-10 Member Since 2006
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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

    9 of 11 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 2006
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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!

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy Gatineau, Quebec, Canada 11-27-10
    Nancy Gatineau, Quebec, Canada 11-27-10 Member Since 2014
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    "A tribute to the resiliency of thr human soul"

    His courage and forgivness that is a tribute to the greatness of the ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances. If there were more people in the world like this there would be more hope for mankind to overcome the cycle of hatred that plagues the human species.

    9 of 11 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 2010

    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.

    12 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 02-16-13
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 02-16-13 Member Since 2012

    Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always."

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    "Astounding dignity, exquisite listen"

    When we read text, we don't read every word - our mind tells us what is there; we get the gist of a paragraph; and we move on. When we are read to, it takes longer - but we hear every word.

    Laura Hillenbrand's writing is an exquisite orchid to Jane Austin's massive flowering rose bush. Both write beautifully and are and will long be remembered, but every word and sentence in Hilebrand's book is carefully trained and pruned to support an astonishing story. With Austin's work, a rose or three could be removed without notice.

    That's not to say Louis Zamperini's story is austere or lacks details. Hillenbrand evokes Pre-WWII Southern California so clearly that 70 years later, you expect to see Zamperini on one of his long runs.

    The description of his survival after an ocean crash is so detailed you feel Zamperini's despair as he realizes just how useless some of the survival gear stowed in the raft was.

    Most of all, this is a story about the loss of dignity at the hands of captors, and the redemption of dignity. Hillenbrand shows that dignity should be first on Maslow's heirarchy, because without dignity, is anyone truly alive?

    Rewind if you miss something thinking about the exit you need to take, because some of the most crucial details and changes in circumstances are in a few spare phrases . Don't miss a word of this book.

    [If you find this review helpful, please click the "helpful" button. Thans!]

    15 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gillian Austin, TX, United States 01-27-14
    Gillian Austin, TX, United States 01-27-14 Member Since 2016

    SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Blown Away!"
    What made the experience of listening to Unbroken the most enjoyable?

    Can a book like this honestly be "enjoyable?" It's breathtaking, it's heartbreaking, it makes you chew your fingernails to shreds, but enjoyable? DEFINITELY worth your time (but make no mistake. When I say time, I mean: your life will stop because you will listen to it start to finish, "cover-to-cover," and you'll bring your listening device to the bathroom with you!)


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Naturally, Zamperini is the favorite. There is character development and growth I pretty much didn't see coming but that I desperately hoped for. Because at the beginning? Honestly, the guy comes off as a flat-out sociopath as a child and young adult, with absolutely no thought to the suffering he's causing his family. So three cheers through redemption through absolutely unbelievable chaos and suffering! Laura Hillenbrand, who proves here that "Seabiscuit" was no fluke, brings to life all the characters, be they great, be they frightening beyond belief. You'll love Zamperini's brother, you'll love Phil, his pilot, and you'll have nightmares about "The Bird."


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

    Hermann is a marvelous narrator, the only thing that keeps this from being a five-star performance is that sometimes his delivery is a little flat. This keeps the reader/listener at a slight distance from the entire emotional impact that, otherwise, I think one would feel. Other than that, hey! Four stars is pretty darned good, ya know?


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

    As my dad is a World War II history buff, I went into this thinking that I knew pretty much everything there was to know about it. And I'd read "The Rape of Nanking," so I thought I'd be pretty numb to atrocities in the Pacific. Not so. You'll never think of the war in the Pacific the same way again, not its POWs, not its aggressors. And need I even say that sharks will haunt your nightmares for the foreseeable future after this?


    Any additional comments?

    This book is about as perfect as it gets. It's gripping, emotional, and so very, very well written. Hillenbrand is a true star, and I can't wait for her next book. Until then, I'll have plenty to think about with this one: terror, resilience, loyalty, resourcefulness, and the unwillingness to give up. Quite a lot to pack into one story. That it's true is flabbergasting... and frightening.
    But also just plain cool!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tricia - Audible NJ, United States 04-11-12
    Tricia - Audible NJ, United States 04-11-12 Member Since 2010

    Constantly in search of the perfect listen.

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    "We should all know the name, Louis Zamperini"

    I hated the first part of this book, and really wanted to like it. It is a true story of an actual hero but the re-telling of events was very monotonous to start off with. Detailed accounts of what a plane looked like, of particular battles and so on, were all very boring.

    Luckily, once I got into Part 2 something changed. I was more drawn into the story. The account of Louis Zamperini’s time as a Prisoner of War in a Japanese prison camp is riveting. I was blown away by what he and the other prisoners suffered through and in Zamperini’s case survived. It’s amazing what the human body and spirit can overcome. I was also utterly disgusted by the cruelties some humans seem to be capable of. Overall, this is a book well worth listening to, if only out of respect for a man who is undeniably an American hero.

    When I listened to the sample audio, I loved the sound of the narrator’s voice. When I started getting into the actual audiobook, however, the narration began to feel quite bland. It put me to sleep at times. His voice was very nice, and it might be that there is a lot of detail being explained during much of the book. So, while I ended up not loving the narration, I cannot place the full blame on the narrator himself.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rob Southaven, MS 10-30-11
    Rob Southaven, MS 10-30-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Best audible book I have listened to so far."

    I kept coming back to this audio book solely because others rated it so highly. I passed on it several times thinking 14 hours was too much time. I decided that all the positive reviews just might make this a good listen. I must admit, after a year of membership and many audible ???listens???, this book has been the best by far. This audible book was excellently written, and having it narrated by Edward Herrmann was icing on the cake. This is one book that will probably always have a place in my memories.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marsha UPLAND, CA, United States 10-26-11
    Marsha UPLAND, CA, United States 10-26-11 Member Since 2016
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    "Beyond Entertaining...an experience."

    I don't believe any fiction book, even coming from the most creative mind, can top this true account of mens lives and what they endured in Japanese prison camps. This book is about survival and determination, especially of the main character. There are many lessons for all of us within these pages. I believe I experienced every emotion known to man as I listened to this book, and it left me with a deep respect for the men and women of our armed forces for the risks they take defending our freedoms and gave me a renewed sense of pride in our country. This book is a must read for everyone.

    The narration by Mr. Hermann is quite good. His voice is deep and clear and was read at an even pace.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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  • Iain
    11/9/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Stunning spirit"
    Would you listen to Unbroken again? Why?

    No, but I would be interested in listening to his own account


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Unbroken?

    Too many to mention without giving it away


    What about Edward Herrmann’s performance did you like?

    Well paced, well read throughout


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Survival with courage and dignity


    Any additional comments?

    Listen to this story!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Renata Rissi Silva
    3/21/15
    Overall
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    "It's a definitely must-read book"
    What did you like most about Unbroken?

    An extremely interesting, involving and touching story. No doubt, one of the best I’ve heard!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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