Book Review – Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken Book Cover

Unbroken Book Cover

I’ve been postponing writing this for a few weeks because I wanted to post it on Memorial Day. Today, here in the ‘States we honor our Armed Services members who died while serving our country.

As our greatest president Abraham Lincoln expressed it after the civil war during the cemetery dedication in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania over a 100 years ago, Americans (and citizens of the world) owe a debt of gratitude to those men and women who “gave the last full measure of devotion” so “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”.

Laura Hillenbrand has written a book about a single serviceman’s war in the Pacific during World War II.  In “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” she has managed to tell a complete story, not just of one man, but of an entire generation of soldiers.

Don’t take my word for it that this is a great book.  (although, on second thought, do)  Look at what other customers think.

Unbroken Amazon Reviews

Unbroken Amazon Reviews

Even though Amazon seems to be having a little math trouble, that’s an amazing number of 5 star reviews, and this is is an incredible book.  It has so many things that I like in a book.  History, flying, survival at sea, historical background & great storytelling.  One thing it doesn’t have is my favorite theme of a common man rising to meet the occasion in uncommon circumstances.  The subject of the book is clearly an exceptional man who persevered through unimaginable hardship, yet managed to come through it and be able to lead a great life – something many returning veterans struggle with.

The author doesn’t just tell us what happened, but she puts it in context so as to help us understand the bigger picture.  It’s not just a “he did this, he did that” story.   We feel what he was feeling, and what the families of the missing men were feeling.

It isn’t my style to rehash the story in a formal review.  If you want that, there are plenty of them on Amazon to look at.  Instead, I tell you what I think, and I think that maybe this book may not be for everyone.  I won’t declare that you must or should read it, but if you do there is a possibility that it will impact your life for the better and in a lasting way.  I am glad that I did.  I give it 5 out of 5 stars on the CapnRehab book review scale.

If you decide to read it, and you buy an eBook, I suggest going to the back first and reading the interview with the author.  In it, you get a sense of the struggle it took for her to write the book, her dedication to telling the story, and the impact it has had for family members of Pacific theater of war veterans.  It helped frame my understanding of the story and I wish I had read it first.

This story has had a big impact on me.  I keep thinking back to various points, especially their 42 days in the life raft and what it takes to remain optimistic and survive under such hardship, when someone else looks at the same experience with hopelessness and despair.  There are lessons here that anyone can take and use in their life, no matter who they are and what their situation.

Thanks to all our veterans who have given their lives so the world might live in freedom, thanks to all U.S. veterans (my dad, father in law, brother in law, and friends included) who have served to help protect that freedom and thank you Ms. Hillenbrand for writing this book,


8 thoughts on “Book Review – Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

  1. I actually think this was one of my first blog posts as a blogger months ago, but this was a really appropriate post for Memorial Day! Great review! You’re absolutely right about reading Hillenbrand’s acknowledgements at the end, it really does give readers the sense of validity and credibility to the story and writing. You really could tell the research she put in with this beautiful biography. 🙂

  2. CapnRehab,
    If you liked this, you may also like ” Flags of Our Fathers”
    It was made into a bad movie (as “Unbroken” was ) but don’t let that stop you from picking up this very good read

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