‘Unbroken’, by Laura Hillenbrand a Book Review by Endre Barath, Jr.
Yet another book Diane has been nudging and suggesting for me to read, this one only took me 10 years to add to my ‘read’ pile. If I may add, I thought this would be another “COVID lock-down appropriate” book to read.
Without too much fanfare, allow me a quick background in case you have not read or seen the movie (I have not seen the movie). The book is about Louis Silvie Zamperini, son of Italian Immigrants who settled in Torrance, CA. Louie was an out of control terror of a child who ended up becoming an Olympic Runner with tremendous potential. He took part in the 1936 Olympics in the 5000-meter run, met Adolf Hitler and was determined to break the world record in the “one mile” event at the 1940 Tokyo Olympics (the Olympics that never was due to WWII). Instead, Louie was drafted into the Air Force and became a Bombardier. Fast forward to May 1943 when his plane (the Green Hornet) crashed in the ocean.
From this point on, Louie’s story becomes difficult to read if you just read the words. However, if you focus on the incredible leadership and team effort that the survivors achieved while adrift in a rubber boat for over 47 days in the middle of the ocean, you realize that it is a truly a story of unparalleled determination and will to survive.
One would think that once they arrived on land, life would be easier; quite to the contrary, the next two and a half years of Louie’s life were even harder to read about. The incredible cruelty that the Japanese Prison Guards and leaders inflicted on not only Zamperini, but all the WWII prisoners, is beyond imagination. I have a difficult time comprehending the cruelty humans can inflict on other humans or living beings. Many questions fly through my head, which I will not bore you with; yet in spite of unimaginable odds, Zamperini survived.
When Loui Zamperini returned home after the War, his ordeal was not over. The nightmares, the readjustment to “normal life” were equally challenging. His life was in ruins after surviving the cruelty that life and man placed on him. I was thrilled to read when Louie met with the Reverend Billy Graham and how he was able to help change Louie’s life for the better.
Clearly the Title of the book “Unbroken” is well chosen. My observation was that Louie’s life was unbroken and perhaps unshattered thanks to his amazing will, perseverance, leadership and coming in contact with the Reverend Billy Graham; The pieces of Louie’s life were ‘glued back’ together and made him unbroken. If you read pages 374-376 of the book, you can actually see this transformation.
I have many take aways from this book, and as we enter our ninth month of COVID-19 restrictions with all of our grousing and complaining, this might be a good time to read this book and put things in perspective. Again, it was a very difficult book to read but I am glad that I did; on a lesser level, I see politicians exerting control over our lives on a smoother scale. The key is that all obstacles can be overcome with leadership, teamwork, perseverance and having a belief system in place.
As a Beverly Hills Realtor, I am often amazed at what humans can achieve with limited resources. But when we complain about challenges, nothing compares to what Louie Zamperini endured and survived.
Wishing you a safe and healthy life and I look forward to your comments.
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Endre Barath,Jr. Realtor at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties DRE# 01238708