Published: 2010; Pages 473
Duration: 13 hours, 56 minutes
Narrator: Edward Herrmann
Does anyone else hate paying bills? Urg!! Sorry-I usually open book posts with a little tangent but I don't have one today.
Unbroken in short: Laura Hillenbrand tells the harrowing story of Louis Zamperini, a one-time Olympic runner, and his fight and survival during the Pacific Theater of World War II first as he was lost at sea and later as he was held as a Prisoner of War in Japan.
Why I listened to Unbroken: I kept hearing bloggers mention how much they loved this book and non-fiction works very well for me in audiobook format.
Lisa asks: I am interested in Unbroken, but it seems so heavy! is it?
YES. Unbroken is incredibly heavy. And heartbreaking. And tough to listen to. It's a story that will continue to stick with me for a long time. I highly recommend it, but make sure you're in the mood. Though I do have to say that the story is so remarkable that it's hard to put it down (or turn it off...)
JoAnn wondered: I found parts of Unbroken almost too painful to listen to, yet was enthralled with the story. Did you have a strong reaction to the POW sections?
I know just what you mean about feeling this book was too painful but too listen to but just so...incredible. I don't even know the correct word to describe this book. Unbelievable. Incomprehensible. I know that I will never think about a POW in the same light again. But even though the POW parts of the story were often the most difficult or emotional bits to read, I found myself at the edge of my seat when Louie and his crewmates were stranded at sea. My goodness!!
JoAnn also asks: Do you think it would have been less emotional to read rather than listen?
I remember having a twittersation with you about listening to Unbroken versus reading the book. In many ways I feel like I don't know if I could have continued if I was reading the events on paper. On the other hand, listening to Louie's story had quite the impact. There was one moment when Hillenbrand describes the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and I was literally so engrossed in the story that it took me a minute to realize I was drive 10 miles under the speed limit in my neighborhood. I'm certainly glad that I listened to this book rather than read it.
Vasilly: I see that you read Unbroken. Have you read the author's first book, Seabiscuit? How do they compare? I love Seabiscuit but haven't felt the need to pick up Unbroken yet? What's your favorite thing about Unbroken?
I did read Seabiscuit several years ago and really enjoyed it. The subject matter in each book is completely different from the other, so I can understand your lack of interest in Unbroken. Although the stories of the two books are so different, Hillenbrand's writing is excellent in both books. She certainly does her research and not only provides the necessary details to the story but also the historical details surrounding the events of the story. I learned so much about various aspects of World War II in reading Unbroken and I really appreciate that about Hillenbrand's books.
Hard to think of a favorite thing about the book. Unbroken is a very intense and emotional reading experience, but Hillenbrand takes care to draw her characters fully which allowed me to become deeply invested in the story.
Laura: I'm currently reading Unbroken (oh my goodness-hard to put down!). We you surprised at the details Louie remembers about the all the things he experienced? I know he kept a diary for some of it, but Wow! What an amazing memory! I can't wait to finish this book!
Honestly I'm not sure that I ever really stopped to think about all of the details that were remembered in the story, but you're absolutely right that it is quite amazing. What I was surprised about was how open Louie was about what happened to him. I know many men who refuse to talk about their war experiences because of the pain it brings them (some I have no idea why they don't talk about it). I know I forget that these men were so young when they fought in the war--it's so difficult for me to imagine going through these trials at such a young age.
A special note about the audio: Edward Herrmann does a fantastic job of narrating Unbroken. His voice and tone had a way of drawing me into the story and he added dramatic effect in all of the right places. I've already added another of his narrations to my wishlist solely because I enjoyed listening to him so much. I cannot imagine reading this book rather than listening and highly recommend the audiobook version. The only drawback is that the hardcopy book does contain photographs. Luckily I was able to flip through my mom's copy of the book.
The Bottom Line: If you're a history buff I'd certainly recommend this book. But don't be put off by the "history/non-fiction" labels as Unbroken is a book that is difficult to put down. Though it's a page turner, there are many many moments when the subject matter seems too unbearable to continue. Just when you think it can't get any worse for Louie, it does. But I promise that it is well worth finishing.
Have you read Unbroken? What did you think? If not, do you plan to read it?