Cambridge Book Club Readers- Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

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.

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  • Philip

    I really enjoyed this book. What an incredible story. Great pick Elizabeth. For those who crave more Louie, I found that he wrote memoir of his own. See y'all next month. I posted a couple of suggestions for next month. I'll see what else I can come up with.

    1 · March 8, 2013

  • Jules

    Yay! Unbroken I've already read, and I should actually be able to make it this time. :)

    2 · February 19, 2013

  • Kristin

    This is one of my all time favorite books. Lookingforward to reading it again!

    1 · February 14, 2013

  • Philip

    How about Frantzen, The Corrections or Hornsby, Juliet, Naked

    1 · February 7, 2013

  • H H

    Here are some recs, Elizabeth:

    Zadie Smith's White Teeth - here I second Carolyn's rec - Smith meanders between absurdity and realism
    Lisa See's Shanghai Girls - nice to compare with Snow Flower ...
    Ali Smith's The Accidental - a clever read, somewhat fragmented, received a fair amount of critical praise.

    Cheers! Great meeting on the Kingsolver yesterday.

    February 7, 2013

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