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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

Amazing Story

This was such an amazing story. It's hard to believe that people could survive the torment and torture that these POWs endured. Louis Zamporini's life is an inspiring testament to the resilience of the human spirit!

22 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • David
  • INDIAN LAND, SC, United States
  • 12-01-10

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.

21 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Ed
  • Woodbridge, CT, United States
  • 12-03-10

Emotionally draining and uplifting.

Best audio book I have ever "read"
I had to pull the car over to wipe tears from my eyes.

Louie is a true American hero!

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Matt
  • Bakersfield, CA, United States
  • 11-29-10

Engaging story

This is a very engaging story. Well written, well read, interesting, uplifting and sad at the same time. Recommended.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 01-27-14

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.<br/>But also just plain cool!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Tarango
  • Pearland, TX, United States
  • 03-31-11

Wow, What a book

This book brings out the emotions and you find yourself caught up with the character. I don't understand some critics not liking this.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Anthony
  • Oak Ridge, TN, United States
  • 02-25-11

Simply The BEST!

I have been an Audible subscriber for nearly as long as it has been available. Unbroken is WITHOUT A DOUBT the best audio book I have ever listened to. A most listen!

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Roger
  • Pflugerville, TX, United States
  • 12-05-10

Great Story!

What a great story of endurance and perspective. One of the best listens in my library! I really enjoyed the historical information, the way Laura keeps track of all the characters thru the end. I really enjoyed this and would highly recommend. This helps you realize the depravity of all of us, the capability to endure, and the redemption possible thru forgiveness. Great job Laura and Edward.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

WOW! Makes you realize how fortunate we are!

I want to write something to emphasize how powerful this story is, but can only come up with... unbelievable! The determination to live and the power of forgiveness = powerful.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Wayne
  • Valley Springs, CA, United States
  • 12-02-10


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.

19 of 23 people found this review helpful