Unbroken is the story of Louis Zamperini, a name I’d never heard before I read his obituary. (Neither had Oscar, and he knows everything there is to know about sports.)
Louis Zamperini died recently, at the age of 97. He was a juvenile delinquent, an unlikely Olympian who appeared at the 1936 Berlin Olympics where he met Hitler, a bombardier on a B-24 fighting against the Japanese after Pearl Harbor. His plane was shot down. He and the pilot survived 47 days in a life raft without provisions. He spent years in a Japanese POW camp where he endured starvation and torture. After the war he had a hard time of it - finally turned his life around with the help of the Reverend Billy Graham.
A life such as this should not be a bore. Far from it. The book, unfortunately, is so boring I struggled to slog my way through the first third before giving up.
The author’s voice. The author, also the author of Seabiscuit (a book my husband loved), drones on about the facts of Mr. Zamperini’s life in such a monotone that I felt like I was stuck in the most boring college lecture in the history of the world given by the most boring lecturer in the history of the world. It’s all tell tell tell. This happened and then that happened and then this happened and then that happened…
I’m a lover of nonfiction. I’m passionate about it. I can get excited reading a book about rocks. No kidding. The best nonfiction writers bring their true tales to life– paint people and nature and events with vivid colors. In this particular case, the author has managed to turn one of the most gripping stories/biographies of the Twentieth Century into a flaming bore.
You know me. I rarely ever say a bad word about a book. In fact my general rule of thumb is this – If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Well, I’m making an exception. Don’t waste your money. Maybe Angelina Jolie can do a better job with the film.
In the meantime, I’m giving this book a try – The Devil at My Heels, by David Rensin and Louis Zamperini. Louis Zamperini’s story in his own words.
An addendum: I am so glad I switched! Devil At My Heels is gripping! Can’t put it down. I read for four hours straight the other night– looked up and it was 2 a.m. Skip Unbroken. Get this.