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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

Critic Reviews

" 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 Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Janice
  • Sugar Land, TX, United States
  • 12-01-10


This is one of the best told stories I have encountered either in print or as an audible offering. Hillenbrand goes beyond a strict narrative of wartime experiences and transports us into the lives of people we will never know, but feel that we do. Over and over I found myself literally praying for the safety and rescue of Louis and his colleagues, even though obviously the outcomes were decided over 60 years ago - the sense of immediacy was ever present. Intensively researched, the attention to detail successfully avoids the sense of being drowned in statistics, but allows the awareness of "Man, I never knew that". Adding to the story telling experience is Edward Herrmann's flawless reading. I have been strongly recommending this book to all of my friends - one does not have to be a history buff or a fan of war stories to recognize and appreciate the humanity at the center of the story. Anyone who can be inspired by personal courage and perserverance will enjoy this book.

210 of 220 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Rebecca
  • Middleburg, FL, United States
  • 11-18-10

Intoxicating book, I couldn't stop listening

What an amazing tale- unbelievable at times. The spirit and endurance is truly stuff of legends. Well written and captivating, I flew through the book though, admittedly, it was hard at times to continue. I had not listened to many historical war pieces but am very glad I purchased this audiobook. I already have plans to buy at least 2 copies as Christmas gifts for family members.

134 of 142 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Richard
  • Pembroke Pines, FL, United States
  • 11-21-10

Epic war saga

This is a good book about WW2 and some of the experiences of downed pilots and POW's of the Japanese. It is well told and I put it right there with Bridge over the river Kwai. Can be depressing at times as it deals with POW's and brutality to them. Worth a credit though if you have an interest in this genre.

70 of 74 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Hillenbrand could make even laundry fascinating!

This beautifully written, un-put-downable book proves that SEABISCUIT was no fluke: Laura Hillenbrand is simply a fine writer. In her capable hands, drying laundry could no doubt be turned into a Pulitzer Prize-winning tome. Thank the heavens that her prodigious talent found such a compelling tale. You cannothelp but love this beautifully written, wonderfully narrated tale of an American fighter pilot who sruvives--and thrives--under the worst that World War II can throw at him. I also had my eyes opened to the grim realities faced by American POWs in Japan. It inspired in me an enormous new respect for my dad and his generation. "Unbreakable" is the perfect name for this brilliant book--I could not take a break from devouring this incredible story.

91 of 97 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


The author of the book Seabiscuit (Laura Hillenbrand), once again, delivers a great read (or in this case, listen). The narrator, Edward Hermann, turns in a world-class performance.

Like another reviewer, Jeffrey from Georgia, I found myself wondering why I had not heard about Louie Zamperini before now. After listening to this saga, it truly seems impossible.

The book relates how Mr. Zamperini when asked about his ordeal responded (and I paraphrase), ..."if I knew then what I know now, I would have killed myself". The story truly leaves one wondering how he ever got through it all. And, if you ever had any doubt in your mind as to whether or not we should have dropped the atomic bomb, as awful as it was, your doubts, I believe, will be gone after listening to this book.

I do not understand the one and two star ratings. Most of the reviews on the internet are far and away five-star ratings, and the book is deserving of same. I found that the book at times left me angry and my stomach tied in knots because of what Louie Zamperini and the other POWs had to suffer through, but that speaks of the strength of this author. This book is easily a candidate for an epic movie.

Do yourself a favor: purchase and listen to this audio book.

129 of 138 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The best audiobook I have ever heard

I bought this book on a whim, as it turns out, it has been the best audiobook purchase I have ever made. The writing is absolutely incredible. Edward Herrmann's reading is absolutely flawless.

This book is a must, I give it a 10 star rating!

202 of 220 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Wow! It's all I can say....

Inspiring and horrific - captivating and devastating. It brought me to tears so many times and as I listened I actually found myself wincing in sympathetic pain and smiling at the little victories. God Bless Louie and all the brave souls that sacrificed so much. This isn't a book to just listen to, it's an experience that shouldn't be passed up.

101 of 110 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Michael
  • BROOKLYN CENTER, MN, United States
  • 11-22-10

Unbroken by Laura Hillendbrand

Excellent book but better people than I already said it was.

It is obvious that the author did a great deal of research making the imminence details of the people in the book. Story kept me interested the entire time I was listening to it. At times it made me feel that I was almost right there partaking in events. A great deal of emotion was brought out especially describing the time in prison camps and how it effected the prisoners some for the remainder of their lives regretfully.

My Dad was in the Navy in WWII he made it home but as a broken man and used alcoholic to deal with his demons. Thank you for a surreal look into these young mens lives and the details of terrible effect the War had on them. At age 13 in 1961, I can remember my Dad waking from a sound sleep in the middle of the night, yelling help get those guys out of there. Very sad, I am sure his life would have been much different if he had not his experiences in the War. Even today, I find it difficult to believe people refuse to respect and try to understand how the horrific events that happened to these young men coming from a War Theater of today.

121 of 132 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Andy
  • Westport, CT, United States
  • 03-09-11

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.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great book

This book has helped me realize, I don't read enough non-fiction. I had to remind myself at times that this was a true story. Makes one wonder how the story of Louie Zamperini???s dramatic life was not already told.

76 of 84 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Iain
  • 11-09-15

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!

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Renata Rissi Silva
  • 03-21-15

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!