On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber 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 odysseys of the Second World War.
The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become 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 foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.
In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit
. Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.
Praise for Unbroken
""A master class in narrative storytelling…Extraordinarily moving...A powerfully drawn survival epic.""—The Wall Street Journal
""Will you be able to put [Unbroken] down once you poke your nose into it? You will not. … No one delivers a play-by-play better than Laura Hillenbrand… No other author of narrative nonfiction chooses her subjects with greater discrimination or renders them with more discipline and commitment. If storytelling were an Olympic event, she’d medal for sure…""—Laura Miller, Salon
""Unbroken is wonderful twice over, for the tale it tells and for the way it’s told. A better book than Seabiscuit, it manages maximum velocity with no loss of subtlety. [Hillenbrand has] a jeweler’s eye for a detail that makes a story live.""—Newsweek
""Monumental… as mesmerizing as it is gut-wrenching. Hillenbrand’s writing is so ferociously cinematic, the events she describes so incredible, you don’t dare take your eyes off the page.""—People
""Ambitious and powerful… Hillenbrand is intelligent and restrained, and wise enough to let the story unfold for itself. Her research is thorough, her writing crystalline. Unbroken is gripping in an almost cinematic way."" The New York Times Book Review
""Hillenbrand is a muscular, dynamic storyteller… But she happens also to have located a tale full of unforgettable characters, multihanky moments and wild turns…A bang up research job.—The New York Times
""A one-in-a-billion story… seems designed to wrench from self-respecting critics all the blurby adjectives we normally try to avoidL It is amazing, unforgettable, gripping, harrowing, chilling, and inspiring. It sucked me in and swept me away. It kept me reading late into the night. I could not…(it really hurts me to type this)…put it…(must find the strength to resist)… down.""—New York Magazine
""A warning: after cracking open Unbroken you may find yourself dog tired the next day, having spent most of the night fending off sleep with coffee refills, eager to find out whether the story of Louis Zamperini, Olympic runner turned WWII POW, ends in redemption or despair..In Hillenbrand’s [hands], it’s nothing less than a marvel—a book worth losing sleep over.""—The Washingtonian
""Zamperini’s story is certainly one of the most remarkable survival tales ever recorded. What happened after that is equally remarkable. Do yourself…a favor and buy the book.""—Graydon Carter, Vanity Fair
""Hillenbrand demonstrates a dazzling ability—one Seabiscuit only hinted at—to make the tale leap off the page…. Irresistible.—Elle
""A tale of triumph and redemption…a clear-eyed tale of yet another underestimated creature who tried hard, ran fast, and miraculously beat the odds. … Astonishingly detailed..""--O magazine
""Another epic of long odds and unbreakable spirit… Zamperini’s story is almost dangerously rich, full of pulpy overheated detail, but Hillenbrand cools and tempers it with precise prose and disciplined eye for facts that ground Zamperini’s incredible odyssey in reality.""—TIME
""An astonishing testament to the superhuman power of tenacity…"" --Entertainment Weekly
""Intense…you better hold onto the reins.""—The Boston Globe
""Riveting…so haunting and so beautifully written, those who fall under its spell will never again feel the same way about World War II and one of its previously unsung heroes.""—Columbus Dispatch
""Incredible… Zamperini’s life is one of courage, heroism, humility and unflagging endurance…""—St. Louis Post Dispatch
""Unbroken is too much book to hope for: a hell ride of a story in the grip of the one writer who can handle it. Killing sharks with his bare hands...outracing Olympic runners...outwitting one of the most notorious fiends to stalk Japan's POW camps — when it comes to courage, humanity, and impossible adventure, few will ever match ""the boy terror of Torrance,"" and few but the author of Seabicuit could tell his tale with such humanity and dexterity. Laura Hillenbrand has given us a new national treasure.""
—Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
""Hillenbrand has once again brought to life the true story of a forgotten hero, and reminded us how lucky we are to have her, one of our best writers of narrative history. You don’t have to be a sports fan or a war-history buff to devour this book—you just have to love great storytelling."" —Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
""Heart-wrenching…It is impossible to condense the rich, granular detail of Hillenbrand's narrative…[her] triumph is that in telling Louie's story (he's now in his 90s), she tells the stories of thousands whose suffering has been mostly forgotten. She restores to our collective memory this tale of heroism, cruelty, life, death, joy, suffering, remorselessness, and redemption.""—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
""[Hillenbrand] returns with another dynamic, well-researched story of guts overcoming odds…Alternately stomach-wrenching, anger-arousing and spirit-lifting—and always gripping.""—Kirkus Reviews
""[Hillenbrand’s] skills are as polished as ever, and like its predecessor, this book has an impossible-to-put-down quality that one commonly associates with good thrillers.""--Booklist
""Unbroken is too much book to hope for: a hellride of a story in the grip of the one writer who can handle it. Killing sharks with his bare hands...outracing Olympic runners...outwitting one of the most notorious fiend