Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand


26 Critic Reviews

Ms. Hillenbrand is a muscular, dynamic storyteller. . .
-NY Times


#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE • Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.

In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943. When his Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, against all odds, Zamperini survived, adrift on a foundering life raft. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, 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.
Unbroken is an unforgettable testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit, brought vividly to life by Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand.

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
“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
“Magnificent . . . incredible . . . [Hillenbrand] has crafted another masterful blend of sports, history and overcoming terrific odds; this is biography taken to the nth degree, a chronicle of a remarkable life lived through extraordinary times.”—The Dallas Morning News
“An astonishing testament to the superhuman power of tenacity.”—Entertainment Weekly
“A tale of triumph and redemption . . . astonishingly detailed.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“[A] masterfully told true story . . . nothing less than a marvel.”—Washingtonian
“[Hillenbrand tells this] story with cool elegance but at a thrilling sprinter’s pace.”—Time
“Hillenbrand [is] 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

About Laura Hillenbrand

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Laura Hillenbrand is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Seabiscuit: An American Legend, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, won the Book Sense Book of the Year Award and the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award, landed on more than fifteen best-of-the-year lists, and inspired the film Seabiscuit, 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, the highest journalistic honor in Thoroughbred racing. 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.
Published November 16, 2010 by Random House. 497 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Education & Reference, Sports & Outdoors, War, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Unbroken
All: 26 | Positive: 20 | Negative: 6


Sep 01 2010

Alternately stomach-wrenching, anger-arousing and spirit-lifting—and always gripping.

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NY Times

Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Nov 14 2010

Ms. Hillenbrand is a muscular, dynamic storyteller. . .

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by David Margolick on Nov 09 2010

. . .virtually everything about Zamperini is filtered through her capable yet rather denatured voice, and we don’t really hear him.

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Reviewed by Kevin Rushby on Feb 18 2011

Here is the story that few PoW books have bothered to tell: of a man struggling to escape an inescapable past...Hillenbrand marches second world war literature right back into the spotlight.

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Publishers Weekly

Oct 11 2010

Hillenbrand's 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.

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Wall Street Journal

Below average
Reviewed by James Hornfischer on Nov 13 2010

She doesn't show us much of the hero in repose or illuminate how his wartime trials look to him in the sunset years.

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Blog Critics

Reviewed by Nancy Fontaine on Jan 11 2011

God is in the details, so the saying goes, and Hillenbrand provides them, making every part of Louie’s story stand out in vibrant colors.

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Reviewed by Maureen Corrigan on Dec 01 2010

Hillenbrand has a gift for recovering the spirit of mid-20th century America. . .

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Star Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Mark Kramer on Dec 28 2010

This reader was hooked soundly, then wriggled free by the end, left feeling puzzled and a bit fouled.

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Washington Times

Reviewed by Wesley Pruden on Feb 25 2011

His is the compelling account of survival, resilience and redemption as told by Laura Hillenbrand, author of the best-seller “Seabiscuit,” in her new book, “Unbroken.”

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LA Times

Reviewed by Jane Ciabattari on Oct 28 2010

. . .it is the tension of Zamperini's fight to live in barbaric conditions that makes "Unbroken" so disturbing and thrilling.

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Entertainment Weekly

Above average
Reviewed by Benjamin Svetkey on Nov 10 2010

I occasionally had to give myself a break from the bleakness of his life in the POW camp. All of which makes Unbroken a good book, sometimes even a profound book, but it’s probably not going to be anybody’s favorite book.

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The Washington Post

Below average
Reviewed by Gary Krist on Oct 12 2010

. . .Hillenbrand presents as fact a few too many stories that seem like family legend.

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The Telegraph

Reviewed by Nicholas Shakespeare on Jan 20 2011

Hillenbrand must be congratulated for chiselling out such an uplifting story.

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The Telegraph

Reviewed by Nigel Jones on Jan 16 2011

Displaying the same qualities of meticulous research and identification with her subject that brought Seabiscuit alive. . .

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Dallas News

Reviewed by Michelle Jones on Nov 21 2010

. . .this is biography taken to the nth degree, a chronicle of a remarkable life lived through extraordinary times.

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Oregon Live

Reviewed by Elinor Langer on Oct 20 2010

It is hard to decide which aspect of "Unbroken" is more remarkable -- Louis Zamperini's life story or Laura Hillenbrand's telling of it.

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Reviewed by John M. Formy-Duval on Sep 06 2013

Hillenbrand's retelling of his survival, fall from grace, and hard-fought redemption and forgiveness of his former captors is the stuff of legend.

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Reviewed by Sara Nelson

Through astonishingly detailed research. . .Hillenbrand tells a clear-eyed tale of yet another underestimated creature who tried hard, ran fast, and miraculously beat the odds.

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New York Magazine

Below average
Reviewed by Sam Anderson on Nov 14 2010

I found myself wondering. . .if that devotion was an obstacle, if it led Hillenbrand to accept a version of Zamperini’s life that is slightly less complex than his actual life might have been.

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Below average
Reviewed by Craig Seligman on Nov 15 2010

Nevertheless, the deeper in I got the less I found myself wanting to return to her endless atrocity anecdotes. . .

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The Miami Herald

Reviewed by Connie Ogle on Jul 01 2011

I am not a particular fan of war stories, but I will think about Unbroken for a good long while. It's the perfect sort of book to read whenever you feel that fate has dealt you a bad hand.

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Marine Corps Gazette

Reviewed by ColEric Chase

The narrative of Unbroken is so compelling, the story so riveting, and the lessons so insightful and permanent that every American in uniform should read, savor, and learn from this book.

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Above average
Reviewed by Sharyn Vane on Nov 27 2010

Such well-sketched scenes are gripping enough without Hillenbrand's occasional lapses into melodrama, telling us how dire a situation was when the anecdotes themselves are ample illustration. Still, it's a minor quibble.

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St. Cloud Visitor

Reviewed by Ann Jonas on Sep 06 2013

Unbroken tells a riveting story of a man with tremendous courage and perseverance. Hillenbrand herself mustered a great deal of courage and perseverance in order to write her books.

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Destination Wake Forest

Reviewed by Julie on Feb 16 2012

I highly recommend this book for book clubs as there are many interesting topics for discussion. I also recommend it for anyone who enjoys biographies and war stories, of course.

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Michael Manley 18 Aug 2013

Rated the book as 4 out of 5

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dilip kumar 23 Mar 2014

this is a nicde book i ever read

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Lynn Emily Meissner 23 Apr 2014

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