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Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Laura Hillenbrand , Edward Herrmann
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
RRP: £32.62
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Book Description

16 Nov 2010
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE • Hailed as the top nonfiction book of the year by Time magazine • Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for biography and the Indies Choice Adult Nonfiction Book of the Year award

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
“Extraordinarily moving . . . a powerfully drawn survival epic.”The Wall Street Journal
“[A] one-in-a-billion story . . . designed to wrench from self-respecting critics all the blurby adjectives we normally try to avoid: It is amazing, unforgettable, gripping, harrowing, chilling, and inspiring.”—New York
“Staggering . . . mesmerizing . . . Hillenbrand’s writing is so ferociously cinematic, the events she describes so incredible, you don’t dare take your eyes off the page.”People
“A meticulous, soaring and beautifully written account of an extraordinary life.”—The Washington Post
“Ambitious and powerful . . . a startling narrative and an inspirational book.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Marvelous . . . Unbroken is wonderful twice over, for the tale it tells and for the way it’s told. . . . It manages maximum velocity with no loss of subtlety.”Newsweek
“Moving and, yes, inspirational . . . [Laura] Hillenbrand’s unforgettable book . . . deserve[s] pride of place alongside the best works of literature that chart the complications and the hard-won triumphs of so-called ordinary Americans and their extraordinary time.”—Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air
“Hillenbrand . . . tells [this] story with cool elegance but at a thrilling sprinter’s pace.”Time

Unbroken is too much book to hope for: a hellride of a story in the grip of the one writer who can handle it.”—Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Random House Audio; Unabridged edition (16 Nov 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739319698
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739319697
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 13.1 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 330,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘The pages almost turn themselves. His tale is remarkable and his resilience inspiring.’ Ben Macintyre

‘An instant classic.’ Mail on Sunday

‘Hillenbrand must be congratulated for chiselling out such an uplifting story…This is tremendous stuff.’ Daily Telegraph

‘A riveting read.’ Spectator

‘Hillenbrand’s storytelling is gripping.’ Financial Times

‘”Unbroken” is an extraordinarily compelling read, a match for any thriller…a remarkable book.’ Evening Standard

‘”Unbroken” is gripping in an almost cinematic way. To have written something so ambitious and powerful under such trying circumstances is an act of courage even a Louis Zamperini would admire.’ Scotsman

More gripping than fiction’ Sunday Telegraph

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Laura Hillenbrand is the author of the number-one bestseller Seabiscuit, which won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award. It was made into a major international film, which was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Hillenbrand's New Yorker article, 'A Sudden Illness,' won the 2004 National Magazine Award, and she is a two-time winner of the Eclipse Award. She and actor Gary Sinise are the co-founders of Operation International Children, a charity that provides school supplies to children through American troops. She lives in Washington, D.C.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First class read. 26 Jan 2011
By Arheddis Varkenjaab TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a fantastic book, one of the most entertaining I've read in years. It's a biography of Louis Zamperini who, judging by the number of schools and airports named after him in the US, is a rather famous individual.

Most British readers, myself included, will not have heard of him. Don't let that put you off though, as Zamperini is one of those individuals who has led both a charmed, lucky, and fascinating life.

We start with his youth, where despite the book making light of his mischief, he was a thug and a thief, destined for a life of dodging the police and jail. He is saved by discovering he has a talent for running. Inspired by his slightly more cunning brother (who is just as much a tearaway as Louis but has the charm to get away with it) he finds himself at the Berlin olympics, running in front of Hitler. His natural talent has him on the verge of a four-minute mile and he appears certain for gold at the 1940 games. Instead, Louis finds himself over the Pacific, manning the bombsight of a B24 bomber, and ultimately fighting for survival in a canvas raft in the middle of the ocean.

And this is just the start of his adventures! Louis Zamperini, as well as being talented, lucky, and brave, is revealed to be pretty much indestructible. I won't summarise any more of the story, as it would spoil it, but this is a great book. A real page turner, written with a wonderfully engaging style that will keep you awake to find out what happens next.

Absolutely first class, highly recommended.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting story - glorious ending 21 Feb 2011
By Mark Loughridge VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Stunning. That sums this book up in a word.

I had read a brief summary of Louis Zamperini's life in Don Stephens' excellent book War and Grace and was fascinated to see a much longer version. I wasn't disappointed.

Some authors struggle when they are faced with a welter of facts, details, interviews - they either smother you with them, thus losing the storyline, or they ignore them, thus depriving the story of colour, depth and character. Laura Hillenbrand has mastered her homework without it mastering her. She strikes a perfect balance, and delivers an engrossing, engaging read.

From Zamperini's early days as a tearaway, to his success as an athlete, through his American Air Force career, to the POW camps in Japan, to his return from the 'grave', to his even more amazing transformation by God's grace - all is superbly told. It is hard to find a point at which to put the book down.

The story captures the horror of air combat, the sickening losses even before combat, the sheer awfulness of the POW camps and the trauma the men faced on returning to 'normal' life. The characters are very real, their fear, courage, humanity, anger, bitterness are all displayed, rather than hyped up or hidden away. One of the aspects I liked was the balance in which the Japanese camp officials were portrayed - some brutal and sadistic, but some deeply courageous and humane. It would have been easy to create a one sided impression.

But for me the absolute highlight is found in the closing chapters. I dont think a review would be complete without mentioning them - But STOP HERE if you dont want to know the ending!
Read more ›
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An astonishing and totally gripping read. 1 Feb 2011
By Caroline P. VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I admit I approached this book with a certain amount of trepidation. I wondered how you could write a book about someone spending weeks on a raft and yet keep it interesting? It turns out that there is so much more to Louie Zamperini's story than that, although I don't want to give too much away.

This is a man I suspect very few Brits will have heard of. And yet his story is utterly astonishing and completely riveting. This was a very hard book to put down and I read it very quickly.

I love the way the author has told this story. No lantern-jawed heroes, fearing nothing, in these pages. Rather, very genuine and very honest, flesh-and-blood people - scared to death at times, traumatised by what has happened to them. The real deal. People like you and me who yet find within themselves a courage to endure that is so astounding, so amazing that you are left in awe. Which is how it should be. Still, I think she did take a certain lick of gloss to Louie's youth and I was left a little curious, suspecting more 'behind the scenes'. But that is a very, very small point and this is someone who earned redemption. This was, ultimately, a man unbroken by what happened to him - but who came, many times, very very close to being destroyed by it.

Ms Hillenbrand is an excellent author and this is a brilliant tale. I cannot recommend it highly enough and I'll certainly be looking out for other books she has written. You won't regret buying this book, I'm certain
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars spell binding story compulsive read 29 Jan 2011
By Mrs. A. Wright VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book grabbed my attention from beginning to end. It is really the story of Louis Zamperini but there are so may other wonderful characters in particular his army friends who also deserve much admiration. The book takes you through Louie's tearaway youth through army training and service in the war. His life after the war is also interesting. I loved the story of Louie's youth and as one who remembers the excitement caused by Roger Bannister running the mile in under 4 minutes in the 50's I find it amazing that Louie was so close in the 30's. The description of his air force training was interesting and with Louie's capacity for practical jokes this section was not short of humour. The spirit of the 3 men during their time on the raft was true to life (I imagine) and my mouth and lips were dry when thirst was described. Conditions in prisoner of war camps are well documented in other books but perhaps because we already knew Louie and Harris the descriptions here were a bit too true to life. I didn't want to read on but there was no way I could stop. It was also good that one got to hear of the good and bad prison guards and what happened them too. I know that Ms Hillenbrand researched very thoroughly for this book. Her acknowledgements show this but also give more detail so are well worth a read. I read them when i finished the book because I wasn't ready to let Louie go. This wasn't in any way my usual genre and though it is written in a semi formal but easy to read style there was times when I found it uncomfortable. I had to continue because I had to know what happened. The story stayed with me for many days after finishing and I think this is the true test of a good well written tale. I would recommend it to anyone and have already recommended it to family and friends. Do give it a read. You won't regret it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning
This is inspiring, parts of it are almost unbelievable, except that I used to work with a man who couldn't bear anything Japanese near him. Read more
Published 5 days ago by JessH
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT READ
Well written and researched and great interesting small details. And what a hero Louie is!! Pity there is not a sequel!! Read more
Published 16 days ago by BRIAN GOODERHAM
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
I really loved this book if you can 'love' reading this kind of stuff. It really got to me and I'm amazed that I hadn't heard of Louie before. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Nicola Webster
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing life story
Extremely well written account of the life story of an amazingly resilient man. Insightful descriptions given of the
horrendous brutality experienced by the POWs in some of... Read more
Published 16 days ago by Siobhán
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourites
What an inspirational story - I loved reading this from start to finish. Zamperini is such a legend and his story is beyond incredible. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Gnoma
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
A very enlightening book in all senses.....unbelievable man. Certainly changed the way I think about life... Read more
Published 23 days ago by David Foster " fossie "
5.0 out of 5 stars A lesson and an inspiration for all the battles, large and small, that...
‘Unbroken’ by Laura Hillenbrand brings an amazing story based on real events that describes the fate of a man who was a member of the Olympic team of his country, and a few years... Read more
Published 26 days ago by Denis Vukosav
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional
An exceptional story of human suffering during the war and the tenacity and ability to forgive those responsible for such unbelievable cruelty.
Published 29 days ago by Pam Thomson
5.0 out of 5 stars a must read
Simply the best book I have ever read, a truly compelling story of human survival, absolutely insperational, a must read.
Published 1 month ago by james r walker
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books i have ever read
The book is as good as people say it is. I suggest that everyone should read this book before the movie comes out at the end of 2014.
Published 1 month ago by 4evagooner
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