At the close of the 1936 Olympics Louie Zamperini, an 18 year old track star from Los Angeles was considered to be the favorite for the 1940 Olympics. Many believed he would be the first to break the elusive 4 minute mile. When war broke out in Europe, the 1940 Olympics were cancelled and Louie's dreams were put on hold, but the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 permanently changed all that Louie had planned. He joined the Army Air Force and became a bombardier flying missions over Japan. The plane Louie Zamperini was on was shot down and Louie, the pilot and a gunner were the only survivors, landing in the Pacific Ocean with a small raft and no supplies. It is almost impossible to believe what they endured adrift in shark filled waters. Louie and the pilot survived, and after 47 days they were captured by the Japanese and started the horrendous existence as POWs in various camps from different islands to mainland Japan.
Louie's chief tormentor was a sadistic camp commander nicknamed "The Bird". The Bird seemed to take particular delight in beating, punishing, starving and demeaning Louie, but Louie's body and spirit remained unbroken throughout his ordeal. After the camp was liberated at the end of World War II, Louie returned to his life in LA, but he was forever changed. For the rest of his life he dealt with the aftereffects of his ordeal, demonstrating the same courage and resilience that enabled him to survive his wartime torture.
While serving in the Pacific during WWII we often heard about Japanese atrocities but never would have believed what Louie Zamperini had to face for days that turned into years. Through letters, diaries, first person accounts, military reports and news coverage Hillenbrand recreates the Hell that POWs in Japanese camps had to endure. She contends that Americans in Japanese POW camps were subjected to the cruelest, most dehumanizing atrocities in modern times. But despite his torture and suffering Louie Zamperini never lost his humanity. He and the other American soldiers through history who have faced time in POW camps are heroes who show what Americans are made of and what it means to be an American. This amazing audio book about a true hero will make you proud to be an American.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Read by Edward Herrmann
Random House Audio, unabridged: 14 hours on 11 CDs