This morning, I woke up at 5 a.m. to finish the last 50 pages of “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand.It came recommended by my dad as being excellent. When I both laughed out loud and cried by page five, I knew he was right.
Hillenbrand, author of “Seabiscuit,” spent years researching and combing through articles, artifacts, files, interviews and history to piece together this engrossing biography of Louis Zamperini, a 1936 Olympic runner whose life took a tragic and heroic turn during World War II. What she crafted is nothing short of astounding.
Raised the son of Italian immigrants in Torrance, Calif., Zamperini ran amok as a child. His mischief reached legendary heights, and he often had to run quickly to elude capture. Just when he was on the brink of throwing his education away, his older brother (and community pillar) convinced the school to let him stay and to let him run track.
What followed is truly amazing. Hillenbrand’s description of Zamperini’s running career had me holding my breath to see a footrace run nearly 75 years ago. The twists and turns the ensuing war required of Zamperini made my tears splash down on the pages.
This biography is replete with coincidences, brushes with the divine, man’s inhumanity to man, the resilience of the human spirit and the regenerating power of forgiveness. Corrie Ten Boom’s autobiography, “The Hiding Place,” is the only thing I can compare it to. I don’t read a lot of history (sorry, Dad!) or war stories, but this book gripped me from start to finish.
A copy of “Unbroken” is available at the Safford Library, but you may need to put it on reserve in order to get a turn at checking this out. You will not be sorry you did.