Review: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A week ago I set out to read Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty. I read a few chapters, the story was interesting, but I just couldn’t quite get into the book. When Unbroken showed up at the library on the hold-shelf for me, I decided there was no sense in plodding through a book that I wasn’t into, and decided to return Ty Cobb and start Unbroken instead.

Unbroken may be the most amazing story I have ever read. Laura Hillenbrand is a fantastic author. Unbroken is the biography of Louis Zamperini: olympic runner, WWII veteran, POW in Japan. Zamperini’s story would be fascinating told by anyone, but with Hillenbrand at the helm this book was enchanting. Hillenbrand brought the story to vibrant life. Her retelling of the horrors that Louie endured, and the joy of the end of the war, were descriptively and captivatingly written. I read this 400 page book in 5 days. I probably could have read it even faster, but I am a wife and a mother of four children.

I wish I had made time to read this book sooner, since it is from 2010 and now six years old. However, I am so glad that I remembered this book and read it now. Zamperini’s life is a testament to the power of the gospel. Louie endured incredible hardship. A plane wreck, nearly starving to death for 6 weeks on a tiny raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, rescue from the raft only to be thrown into two years of grueling treatment in a POW camp in Japan. The victory of the Allies in WWII brought Louie back home to California, but his mistreatment by the Japanese prison guards left him with hatred in his heart for the next few years.

Remarkably, listening to Billy Graham preach brought redemption to Louie and forgiveness for his captors to his heart. When I finished reading the bulk of the book yesterday I thought of the hymn “Chief of Sinners, Though I Be” (LSB 611).

3 Only Jesus can impart
Balm to heal the wounded heart,
Peace that flows from sin forgiv’n,
Joy that lifts the soul to heav’n;
Faith and hope to walk with God
In the way that Enoch trod.

Verse 3 of the hymn really captures the change in Louis Zamperini when he clung to faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of his own sin, and then to give him the power to forgive the men who had so wickedly mistreated him in the POW camp during WWII. He even traveled to Japan in 1950 to forgive them while they were in prison themselves for their war crimes.

Louis Zamperini dedicated the rest of his life to speaking about his experience and his faith. Also, he helped troubled youth at his Victory Boys Camp. An amazing life, an amazing story, made perfect by the blood of Jesus.

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