Friday, June 24, 2011

Bay Bookworms: Unbroken

This week my bookclub, Bay Bookworms, discussed Unbroken, a W11 Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.

The book: The true story of Louie Zamperini who started out as a wild, thieving, bullying, juvenile delinquent living in small-town California. With the support of his family he turned his life around to become an Olympic runner. During WW2, in a routine search mission over the Pacific, Louie's plane crashes into the ocean. For two weeks he is stranded in a life raft with two others, battling sharks and catching birds and fish to eat with his bare hands. Captured by the Japanese, he is held prisoner and tortured for the next two years.

Ellen hosted at her townhouse in the Presidio and served pizza, as Louie was Italian.

What we thought:
Ken: Unbroken is a great book, full of hopes, glory, tragedy and perseverance. It’s always amazing when people survive pure mental and physical brutality. I also found the book very informative. We focus on Hitler and his entourage of evil sidekicks, but all the while Japan had it's own version of the Third Reich.

Melinda: A very engaging read about a fascinating man who survived 40 days against incredible odds after his plane crashed in the pacific ocean. He survived only to endure further cruelty as a POW during WW2. I would recommend this book to all, as it is well written, true story and for me - a history lesson.

Jody: One of the best books I have read in years. What's fascinating is the author, who also wrote Seabiscuit, took eight years to write this book. That was because she has chronic fatigue syndrome, an illness which renders her exhausted much of the time. She did 100 of the interviews by phone, email and mail. The story is so unbelievable: first stranded at sea, then the constant torture in the camps. But the saddest part of the book, I thought, was when the men came home.

Martin: A really good book. The scene in the beginning when they are in the raft trying to fight off the circling sharks is really interesting. It flashes back to his childhood and how he turned his life around and became an Olympic runner.

Amy: A truly amazing story of survival. Zamperini had an incredible ability to persevere, both physically and emotionally--first in a raft in the ocean for many days, and then under brutal POW conditions. I was particularly interested in the way he deliberately performed mental exercises (and forced his fellow survivors to do so) to keep from completely losing it.

Ellen: This story is about patriotism, human endurance and humility. Zamperini lived his life at both ends of the spectrum. This is not a philosophical read about existentialism, not a Victor Frank POW experience at all, Zamperini explores the meaning of life through adventure.

Jean: Great read! A real page turner and a sensitive and interesting perspective on WWII. It further fuels my belief that all wars are barbaric and put a very low priority on human dignity and life. I'm not sure about the persistence of the sharks though.

Carson: So interesting to think about what fostered the national psychology of Japan during the war and how people can lose all sense of humanity. And sad that these behaviors still continue to be repeated, based on religion and ethnicity, in many parts of the world.

Cameron: "What you realise is after WW2 there was the attitude of: just shake it off. Mental illess and post traumatic stress syndrome was not as recognised then and the problems of the vets were largely ignored publically. We live near vet housing in LA and it is a good place. Vets in WW2 did not get that support and help to mainstream back into society"


  1. So glad to hear the many reviews of this book by your book club. I'm always looking for the next good read, so glad to hear the recommendations of this one. Have a great weekend!

  2. Jody- I'm so impressed you have time to read and be part of a book club! What a nice group of people...


  3. I love book clubs this is truly interesting.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Great book. My book club read it a few months ago. What are you reading next?

  6. Sounds amazing. I really must buy a bedside lamp....

  7. Just read the Anonymous comment. Interesting!

  8. I just had a friend recommend this to me last week! Looking forward to hopefully reading it this summer :)

  9. Hi Jody,
    I was thinking about you and your wine tasting videos the whole time while I was working on my Georgian Wine post. Please check it out and please watch the two short videos in my post. Pretty please.

  10. Oh not a single person disliked it - think I might have to go and find it and have a read


  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...