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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 (13477 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Debra OWATONNA, MN, United States 01-23-13
    Debra OWATONNA, MN, United States 01-23-13 Member Since 2012
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    1
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    "Heart wrenching story told very well."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This book brought WW11 to life. I felt as if I were there right beside the POWs.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Louie was my favorite because of his stamina and resilience.


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

    No.


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

    This book made me think about all the service men and women and what some have endured.


    Any additional comments?

    Part 2 can get a little long at the beginning, but the ending is well worth listening to the whole book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timothy Sanford, FL, United States 01-23-13
    Timothy Sanford, FL, United States 01-23-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Required reading !!!"

    I bought this one during a "books your parents would love" promotion. Being a veteran, red-blooded American, and history nerd, I enjoy good WWII action. This was SO MUCH MORE. World War II fighting, patriotism, survival, faith, conflict, ... it's exhausting, but like a good workout, it's so worth it. I've pushed this onto all of my friends, and they've all thanked me. It is not something they would have picked on their own, and they all owe me!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    lucy 01-22-13
    lucy 01-22-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very Intense"

    Excellent, very well written. The POW camp chapters were very difficult to hear in that the reality of what happened was so inhumane and brutal.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alexandra Annapolis, MD, United States 01-22-13
    Alexandra Annapolis, MD, United States 01-22-13
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    3
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    "Amazing Story"
    What did you love best about Unbroken?

    Such an amazing, inspiring and touching story! There was nothing I didn't like about it.


    Any additional comments?

    I would highly recommend this book to anyone! Especially Gen X and Yers like myself. It really gives a window into what living during wartime was like and the huge sacrifices that so many young men and women made...something that I think unfortunately gets glossed over in history classes these days.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John 01-21-13
    John 01-21-13
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    "Great Story. Well read."

    Great narrative of a true account. The historical and spiritual aspects were very interesting and moving.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nicolas Midland, TX, United States 01-21-13
    Nicolas Midland, TX, United States 01-21-13
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    2
    2
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    "Great"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, because it was a great story about a life full of unbelievable situations and how he ultimately triumphed


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven E. Lurie Lawrence, NY 01-17-13
    Steven E. Lurie Lawrence, NY 01-17-13 Member Since 2007

    Steven Lurie, Ph.D.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
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    "Amazing, moving, powerful story with big MESSAGE"

    Moving, unforgettable biography of an incredible man who, like millions of WWI and WWII servicemen, lived, fought and sacrificed during and after war. Hillenbrand's wonderful writing allows Louie's truly dramatic story to unfold as it is, and allows us to live in that world with few filters between these men and women and us and between that world and ours. This feels like a very important book as history that we must never forget. A history with so much we can learn from. We owe so much to the men and women who sacrificed their lives. This is a powerful story indeed, one made up of many powerful stories of beating the odds, standing up to adversity, sacrifice for the greater good, of heroism with a capital H rewarded by medals of honor, and with a small h as in having the guts to leave the last morsel of food for a mate who just earlier, out of terror, ate the all of the rations meant to keep the survivors alive. Along the way you the reader feels the extremes of starvation, humiliation, vengeance, fear, resignation. But the real wisdom is not accessible without being able to reflect on the whole picture with some emotional distance and time. The relationship between pow's and their captors reveals mans potential for sadistic and totally unnecessary cruelty that under the right conditions, nearly everyone is capable of perpetrating. And yet some individuals also demonstrate that every one of us makes a choice to conform to the lowest common denominator or resist and rise above it. The path of least resistance under pressure is always paved with rationalizations - I was just following orders. But men go beyond even inhumane orders and abandon all morality. Life looks cheap and cruelty can seem to have a life of its own. The power and importance of this history is making sure we learn from the sacrifices of our parents and grandparents. The greater tragedy of this story is that we have learned exactly the wrong lessons immediate associations to the world we as a society seem to have learned exactly the wrong lessons from it. Like the last scene in Bonnie and Clyde when Bonnie asks Clyde at the end of their tragic lives when essentially they have lost everything something along the lines of - If we could start over, what would you do differently instead of answering as she had hoped - not be criminals - his answer was about how he would change tactics to be better at crime. We are as consumed with being the most powerful, dominant force in the world. We are number one and better than the rest of humanity. We need to get better at winning is all and teaching people who challenge us a harsher lesson. 70 years later we still can't agree as a nation that torture is unacceptable. Live by the sword die by the sword. That revenge is sweet and apologizing and forgiving weak. This is really the story about man's struggle to rise above the base instincts that cause suffering. And my guess is that we will begin to tip in the right direction as more and more women assume power.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Terry CARTERSVILLE, GA, United States 01-15-13
    Terry CARTERSVILLE, GA, United States 01-15-13 Member Since 2010
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    2
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    Story
    "Intense............"
    Would you listen to Unbroken again? Why?

    Probably would not listen to the book again. The overall story was great but seemed a little long. Possibly to much detail.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Unbroken?

    There were several touching moments but one of the most touching for me was the moment when Louie forgave in his heart and was released from his pain.


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

    Definitely Louie Samperini


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

    I would not call it extreme but it was very moving. There was some humor but I found my eyes wet more than once. The word intense keeps coming to mind.


    Any additional comments?

    Edward Herrmann was wonderful. He is an excellent narrator. It would have been difficult to finish the book with some of the readers that I have heard. Edward Herrmann made it easy. I will definitely be looking for good books with Ed as the reader !

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lindsey Lexington, SC, United States 01-12-13
    Lindsey Lexington, SC, United States 01-12-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "WOW, this might have been the best overall book"

    Narrator was great, story always left you wanting more. Don't think about this book, get it. Great story of endurance of hardship. You will not regret this book

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew REXBURG, ID, United States 01-11-13
    Andrew REXBURG, ID, United States 01-11-13
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    "Amazing Story of Life"
    If you could sum up Unbroken in three words, what would they be?

    suspenseful, gripping, informing


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Unbroken?

    The time they spent on the raft


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

    He was able to bring you in and place you next to Luie


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

    His ability to stay loyal to his country through all that he was put through.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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