Tuesday, April 23, 2013


by Laura Hillenbrand

Grade: 4 stars

Thoughts: I got this book from a co-worker, and had no idea what to expect. I assumed I would not like it because I don't tend to like the sort of book that would be given to me by a random person who doesn't read very much. And it was by a New York Times best selling author too, which unfortunately also doesn't endear something to me. And at first I thought I was justified in this assumption. It appeared to be a biography of a boy who was rather too much of a "bad boy" for my tastes. But a biography that was written in quite a novelistic style, with lots of "he thought"'s and "he felt"'s. But I kept reading, and all of sudden realized I was loving it. It got more interesting once the war started, and I actually found the descriptions of bomber training, etc. quite fascinating. But what really interested me was when his plane crashed at sea, and he had to survive for weeks at sea with two other men and no food. The descriptions of the quiet, meditative moments were rather beautiful, and included some Christian moments that surprised me by their presence  I didn't really expect that in a New York Times best selling book. Also, I discovered that Hillenbrand had extensively interviewed Louis Zamperini, and so all the feeling and thinking and not strictly factual parts were actually quite accurate.

In most descriptions of this book, it mentions the lost at sea, and then stops. But that's actually only the beginning. I thought the sea-survival story was testament enough to the "Survival, Resilience, and Redemption" of the cover, but it went from bad to worse. Torture, abuse, and loneliness was added to the starvation and despair of the lost-at-sea story, as Louis Zamperini landed on a Japanese-occupied island and went from one horrific prison camp to another.

All in all, a fascinating view of the war in the Pacific, of human nature, and of one very unusual man.


Aquinas' Goose said...

On a completely different note, yet similar theme: Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I put off reading it for too long, now I think it's going to be a book I have to read every year or so.

RED said...

Ah, yes. I've been meaning to read that book ever since I walked in on some friends listening to an audio version, and found it quite interesting. Also, the movie looks visually beautiful, and I try to read the book first if possible.