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Friday, January 20, 2017

#Audiobook #Review: 5 out of 5 stars for Unbroken (YA Adaptation) by Laura Hillenbrand @LLAudiobooks

TITLE: Unbroken: An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive
NARRATOR: Edward Herrmann
PUBLISHER: Listening Library
PUBLICATION DATE: November 11, 2014
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 11 hrs and 8 mins 
GENRE: Biography, Nonfiction
The number one New York Times best-seller, which is also a major motion picture directed by Angelina Jolie, has now been adapted by the author for young adults. Beautifully illustrated throughout, this riveting biography includes more than 100 black-and-white photos, as well as exclusive content, "In Conversation", with Laura Hillenbrand and Louie Zamperini.

On a May afternoon in 1943, an American military plane 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 sagas of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. As a boy, he had been a clever delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and stealing. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a supreme talent that carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when war came, the athlete became 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 sinking raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would respond to desperation with ingenuity, suffering with hope and humor, brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would hang on the fraying wire of his will.

In this captivating young adult edition of her award-winning number one New York Times best-seller, Laura Hillenbrand tells the story of a man’s breathtaking odyssey and the courage, cunning, and fortitude he found to endure and overcome.

I received a complimentary copy for voluntary review consideration.

Both heartbreaking and inspiring, Unbroken will most definitely move you!

Louis Zamperini, son of Italian immigrants, grew up in Torrance, California. He was a very mischievous boy, smoking at the age of 5 and drinking by age 8 with a penchant for stealing. In an effort to keep him out of trouble and give him something to focus on, his older brother, Pete, whom he idolized, started to train him. He discovered that he enjoyed running, and his dream was to run in the Berlin Olympics in 1936. He was the youngest distance runner to ever make the team, and he was 19 years old when he went to Berlin. He finished in eighth place, but it was his sprint at the end of the race that captured everyone’s attention.

Following his return to the United States, Louis enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and graduated from flight school as a second lieutenant in 1942. He was sent to war in Oahu. While on a search and rescue mission in May 1943, his B-24 crashed into the ocean. Only three men survived the crash: Louis, his best friend Russell Allen “Phil” Phillips, and Francis “Mac” McNamara. They were presumed dead, but they were adrift at sea in two rafts that they tethered together. They battled the elements, with little food (which should have been rationed but, instead, was eaten by Mac in a state of panic), and water. They survived on rain water and the fish that they could catch, but the sharks circled them constantly and even rammed the boats. At one point, they thought a rescue plane had finally found them but it was a Japanese bomber that fired at them, shooting holes in their rafts but miraculously missing the men. Louis prayed that if God would allow him to survive that he would spend the rest of his life serving Him. By the time that the raft reached land after drifting more than 2,000 miles, they were captured by the Japanese and there were only two left; Mac had died at sea.

As a Prisoner of War, Louis was subjected the unimaginable horrors. He was tortured, beaten, starved, and humiliated. He lost more than half his body weight, and he remained a POW for two years.

After his return to the United States, he was hailed a hero. Phil survived as well, and they both got married. However, Louis was plagued with flashbacks and suffered severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He turned to alcohol to numb his senses, and he became violent. At one point, he shook his baby daughter to get her to stop crying and that’s when his wife planned to leave him. Instead, she became a born-again Christian after attending a Billy Graham revival and urged Louis to go with her. He was reminded of his prayers on that raft, his promise to God that he would serve Him the rest of his life if only God would save Him, and that’s when his life changed. He went home and gathered up all the alcohol in the house and dumped it down the drain, and he never again suffered from PTSD or flashbacks. He even returned to Japan to confront the men who tortured him who had been captured as war criminals, and he offered them his forgiveness.

This was an incredibly moving story, and Louis Zamperini is pretty inspiring! In spite of everything that he had endured, his heart had not hardened. His captors may not have deserved his forgiveness, but he gave it and was able to move past that pain to start the healing process. Laura Hillenbrand is a very gifted writer, and the story was hauntingly beautiful. She writes in such a vivid and descriptive way that she made me feel as though I was right there in the life raft with Louis, Phil and Mac! The only thing that made this author’s story better was the narration by Edward Hermann, which was top-notch. He brought this remarkable story of one man’s determination to life. Here is a sample of the narration:

I can’t wait to watch the movie!


5 stars!! It was superb, and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in survival stories or WWII history. Thanks again to Listening Library for the opportunity to review this audiobook!

This book qualifies as:


  1. Darlene, this sounds wonderful! I am adding to my audio wishlist! Thank you.


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