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Unbroken

Cover of Unbroken

Unbroken

A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Borrow Borrow
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
  • NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE • Hailed as the top nonfiction book of the year by Time magazine
  • Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for biography and the Indies Choice Adult Nonfiction Book of the Year award
    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.
    Praise for Unbroken

    "Extraordinarily moving . . . a powerfully drawn survival epic."The Wall Street Journal

    "[A] one-in-a-billion story . . . designed to wrench from self-respecting critics all the blurby adjectives we normally try to avoid: It is amazing, unforgettable, gripping, harrowing, chilling, and inspiring."—New York

    "Staggering . . . mesmerizing . . . Hillenbrand's writing is so ferociously cinematic, the events she describes so incredible, you don't dare take your eyes off the page."People

    "A meticulous, soaring and beautifully written account of an extraordinary life."—The Washington Post

    "Ambitious and powerful . . . a startling narrative and an inspirational book."—The New York Times Book Review

    "Marvelous . . . Unbroken is wonderful twice over, for the tale it tells and for the way it's told. . . . It manages maximum velocity with no loss of subtlety."Newsweek

    "Moving and, yes, inspirational . . . [Laura] Hillenbrand's unforgettable book . . . deserve[s] pride of place alongside the best works of literature that chart the complications and the hard-won triumphs of so-called ordinary Americans and their extraordinary time."—Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air

    "Hillenbrand . . . tells [this] story with cool elegance but at a thrilling sprinter's pace."Time

    "Unbroken is too much book to hope for: a hellride of a story in the grip of the one writer who can handle it."—Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run
    From the Hardcover edition.
  • #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
  • NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE • Hailed as the top nonfiction book of the year by Time magazine
  • Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for biography and the Indies Choice Adult Nonfiction Book of the Year award
    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.
    Praise for Unbroken

    "Extraordinarily moving . . . a powerfully drawn survival epic."The Wall Street Journal

    "[A] one-in-a-billion story . . . designed to wrench from self-respecting critics all the blurby adjectives we normally try to avoid: It is amazing, unforgettable, gripping, harrowing, chilling, and inspiring."—New York

    "Staggering . . . mesmerizing . . . Hillenbrand's writing is so ferociously cinematic, the events she describes so incredible, you don't dare take your eyes off the page."People

    "A meticulous, soaring and beautifully written account of an extraordinary life."—The Washington Post

    "Ambitious and powerful . . . a startling narrative and an inspirational book."—The New York Times Book Review

    "Marvelous . . . Unbroken is wonderful twice over, for the tale it tells and for the way it's told. . . . It manages maximum velocity with no loss of subtlety."Newsweek

    "Moving and, yes, inspirational . . . [Laura] Hillenbrand's unforgettable book . . . deserve[s] pride of place alongside the best works of literature that chart the complications and the hard-won triumphs of so-called ordinary Americans and their extraordinary time."—Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air

    "Hillenbrand . . . tells [this] story with cool elegance but at a thrilling sprinter's pace."Time

    "Unbroken is too much book to hope for: a hellride of a story in the grip of the one writer who can handle it."—Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run
    From the Hardcover edition.
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    Awards-
    Excerpts-
    • From the book

      Chapter One
      The One-Boy Insurgency

      In the predawn darkness of August 26, 1929, in the back bedroom of a small house inTorrance, California, a twelve-year-old boy sat up in bed, listening. There was a sound coming from outside, growing ever louder. It was a huge, heavy rush, suggesting immensity, a great parting of air. It was coming from directly above the house. The boy swung his legs off his bed, raced down the stairs, slapped open the back door, and loped onto the grass. The yard was otherworldly, smothered in unnatural darkness, shivering with sound. The boy stood on the lawn beside his older brother, head thrown back, spellbound.

      The sky had disappeared. An object that he could see only in silhouette, reaching across a massive arc of space, was suspended low in theair over the house. It was longer than two and a half football fields and as tall as a city. It was putting out the stars.

      What he saw was the German dirigible Graf Zeppelin. At nearly 800 feet long and 110 feet high, it was the largest flying machine evercrafted. More luxurious than the finest airplane, gliding effortlessly over huge distances, built on a scale that left spectators gasping, it was, in the summer of '29, the wonder of the world.

      The airship was three days from completing a sensational feat of aeronautics, circumnavigation of the globe. The journey had begun onAugust 7, when the Zeppelin had slipped its tethers in Lakehurst, New Jersey, lifted up with a long, slow sigh, and headed for Manhattan. On Fifth Avenue that summer, demolition was soon to begin on the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, clearing the way for a skyscraper of unprecedented proportions, the Empire State Building. At Yankee Stadium, in the Bronx, players were debuting numbered uniforms: Lou Gehrig wore No. 4; Babe Ruth, about to hit his five hundredth home run, wore No. 3. On Wall Street, stock prices were racing toward an all-time high.

      After a slow glide around the Statue of Liberty, the Zeppelin banked north, then turned out over the Atlantic. In time, land came below again: France, Switzerland, Germany. The ship passed over Nuremberg, where fringe politician Adolf Hitler, whose Nazi Party had been trounced in the 1928 elections, had just delivered a speech touting selective infanticide. Then it flew east of Frankfurt, where a Jewish woman named Edith Frank was caring for her newborn, a girl named Anne. Sailing northeast, the Zeppelin crossed over Russia. Siberian villagers, so isolated that they'd never even seen a train, fell to their knees at the sight of it.

      On August 19, as some four million Japanese waved handkerchiefs and shouted "Banzai!" the Zeppelin circled Tokyo and sank onto a landing field. Four days later, as the German and Japanese anthems played, the ship rose into the grasp of a typhoon that whisked it over the Pacific at breathtaking speed, toward America. Passengers gazing from the windows saw only the ship's shadow, following it along the clouds "like a huge shark swimming alongside." When the clouds parted, the passengers glimpsed giant creatures, turning in the sea, that looked like monsters.

      On August 25, the Zeppelin reached San Francisco. After being cheered down the California coast, it slid through sunset, into darkness and silence, and across midnight. As slow as the drifting wind, it passed over Torrance, where its only audience was a scattering of drowsy souls, among them the boy in his pajamas behind the house on Gramercy Avenue.

      Standing under the airship, his feet bare in the grass, he was transfixed. It was, he would say, "fearfully beautiful." He could feel the rumble of the craft's engines tilling the air but couldn't make out the...

    About the Author-
    • Laura Hillenbrand is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Seabiscuit: An American Legend, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, won the Book Sense Book of the Year Award and the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award, landed on more than fifteen best-of-the-year lists, and inspired the film Seabiscuit, which was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Hillenbrand's New Yorker article, "A Sudden Illness," won the 2004 National Magazine Award, and she is a two-time winner of the Eclipse Award, the highest journalistic honor in Thoroughbred racing. She and actor Gary Sinise are the co-founders of Operation International Children, a charity that provides school supplies to children through American troops. She lives in Washington, D.C.
    Reviews-
    • AudioFile Magazine Both author Laura Hillenbrand and narrator Edward Herrmann share the muse for biography. Hillenbrand (SEABISCUIT) captures the particulars of a captured WWII bomber pilot's travails of surviving torture and deprivation beyond our abilities to imagine. Keeping in the background, Herrmann avoids upstaging this intimate memoir, loaded with enticing psychological detail. He modulates his voice to communicate emotion, reading the many moments of sadness with respect. Without resorting to the annoying convention of pauses before quotes or conjuring up comedic characters, he conveys multiple personalities and their quotations with subliminal ease. The writer and narrator integrate their talents to bring the life of Louie Zamperini--a juvenile delinquent, Olympic athlete, and decorated combat hero--into suspenseful reality. To the end, they keep the story engrossing. J.A.H. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award (c) AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine
    • The Wall Street Journal

      "Extraordinarily moving . . . a powerfully drawn survival epic."

    • New York "[A] one-in-a-billion story . . . designed to wrench from self-respecting critics all the blurby adjectives we normally try to avoid: It is amazing, unforgettable, gripping, harrowing, chilling, and inspiring."
    • People
      "Staggering . . . mesmerizing . . . Hillenbrand's writing is so ferociously cinematic, the events she describes so incredible, you don't dare take your eyes off the page."
    • The Washington Post
      "A meticulous, soaring and beautifully written account of an extraordinary life."
    • The Dallas Morning News
      "Ambitious and powerful . . . a startling narrative and an inspirational book."--The New York Times Book Review

      "Marvelous . . . Unbroken is wonderful twice over, for the tale it tells and for the way it's told. . . . It manages maximum velocity with no loss of subtlety."--Newsweek

      "Moving and, yes, inspirational . . . [Laura] Hillenbrand's unforgettable book . . . deserve[s] pride of place alongside the best works of literature that chart the complications and the hard-won triumphs of so-called ordinary Americans and their extraordinary time."--Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air

      "Hillenbrand . . . tells [this] story with cool elegance but at a thrilling sprinter's pace."--Time

      "Unbroken is too much book to hope for: a hellride of a story in the grip of the one writer who can handle it. . . . When it comes to courage, charisma, and impossible adventure, few will ever match 'the boy terror of Torrance,' and few but the author of Seabiscuit could tell his tale with such humanity and dexterity. Hillenbrand has given us a new national treasure."--Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run

      "Riveting . . . an exceptional portrait . . . So haunting and so beautifully written, those who fall under its spell will never again feel the same way about World War II and one of its previously unsung heroes."--The Columbus Dispatch

      "Magnificent . . . incredible . . . [Hillenbrand] has crafted another masterful blend of sports, history and overcoming terrific odds; this is biography taken to the nth degree, a chronicle of a remarkable life lived through extraordinary times."
    • Salon "No other author of narrative nonfiction chooses her subjects with greater discrimination or renders them with more discipline and commitment. If storytelling were an Olympic event, [Hillenbrand would] medal for sure."
    • The New York Times "A celebration of gargantuan fortitude . . . full of unforgettable characters, multi-hanky moments and wild turns . . . Hillenbrand is a muscular, dynamic storyteller."
    • Washingtonian "[A] masterfully told true story . . . nothing less than a marvel."
    • Graydon Carter, Vanity Fair "Zamperini's story is certainly one of the most remarkable survival tales ever recorded. What happened after that is equally remarkable."
    • Elle "Irresistible . . . Hillenbrand demonstrates a dazzling ability--one Seabiscuit only hinted at--to make the tale leap off the page."
    • O: The Oprah Magazine "A tale of triumph and redemption . . . astonishingly detailed."
    • Entertainment Weekly "An astonishing testament to the superhuman power of tenacity."
    • The Boston Globe "Intense . . . You better hold onto the reins."
    • St. Louis Post Dispatch "Incredible . . . Zamperini's life is one of courage, heroism, humility and unflagging endurance."
    • Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks "Hillenbrand has once again brought to life the true story of a forgotten hero, and reminded us how lucky we are to have her, one of our best writers of narrative history. You don't have to be a sports fan or a war-history buff to devour this book--you just have to love great storytelling."
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    Unbroken
    A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
    Laura Hillenbrand
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