Friday Morning Bookclub

April 26, 2011

Unbroken: A Review Of Our Meeting By Hal, One Of The Friday Morning Bookclub Husbands

Filed under: Book Discussions,Couples meetings,Unbroken — susanbright @ 4:39 pm

                 Recently, the Friday Morning Bookclub met on a Sunday night.  Why was this meeting different from all the other meetings held throughout the year?  It is the one meeting for which the spouses also read the book and join in the discussion. (You thought I was going to mention something about dipping our herbs twice – but that is a different story.)   Despite the fact that several readers expressed mixed feelings about “Unbroken” by Linda Hillenbrand, I thought it was interesting that this book inspired one of the more spirited discussions we have had at the FMBc plus spouses meetings I have attended.  Perhaps readers of this Blog would be interested in some of the opinions expressed at the meeting.

                Most of us remarked on how much history we learned from the book about the war in the Pacific, Japanese treatment of prisoners of war, and the vagaries of war.  One participant pointed out that the wartime experiences Louie endured all began because one guy flipped the wrong button in a moment of inattention in an airplane.  It is often the most seemingly inconsequential things that change everything.

                Several commented that the style of the book was more like a long piece of journalism rather than an artfully told story.  Others felt that sections of the book were unnecessarily repetitive, particularly the detailed description of Louie’s time in successive Japanese POW camps.  Given these comments, some of the group thought it was remarkable that this book is and has been on top of the best-seller list.

                One or two readers were almost hostile in their suggestions that the level of detail about the POW camp experiences made them question its authenticity, given the conditions in those camps and Louie’s post-war alcoholism.  Perhaps this questioning is the result of so many recent revelations that authors have “faked” or embellished supposedly true stories.

                Many of us thought Louie’s religious awakening was difficult to understand and believe.  It seemed so out of character and sudden.

                One reader pointed out that despite the incredible physical hardships and repeated near starvation that Louie experienced, he lived longer than most of his comrades and substantially longer than an average life expectancy.  This suggests that genetics rather than environment may play a larger role in determining longevity.      

                Finally, there was an interesting discussion about whether each of us would have had the spirit and wherewithal to survive what those soldiers survived.  Very few, if any, of those in attendance were confident that they would have lived through it.  Perhaps even Louie would not have survived if he had known at the beginning of his ordeal, what fate had in store for him.

                Any time a book (or a play or a movie) can generate as much discussion as this one did, it is usually worth experiencing.  In the case of Unbroken, my own view is that while you may not “enjoy” every minute of reading it, the experience is worth having on many levels.



  1. I haven’t read this book but if you want to see a movie about based on a real-life Japanese war camp experience, rent “To End All Wars”. It was an incredible story.

    Comment by Harriet Hardy — May 2, 2011 @ 9:52 am | Reply

    • Thank you Harriet. I will be sure to watch End All Wars.

      Comment by susanbright — May 2, 2011 @ 11:25 am | Reply

  2. I thought the book was OK. Easy to read. However I’m one of those non-believers. To be starving, shot at, attacked by sharks in a punctured
    inflatable raft for 2 months and survive. Really? To have the crap beat out of him every day for what, 2 or 3 years, and still survive without even a hint of arthritis to show for it. Come on. I’m sure the POW camps were pure hell, but I would bet most prisoners would try to forget they were ever there, not remember everything in perfect detail. My dad survived the concentration camps. I’m sure he had stories to tell, but he never did. Never talked about it.

    Comment by Avi Pelta — May 3, 2011 @ 9:16 pm | Reply

  3. Um..its not fiction guys?! Pretty remarkable that you could even consider critiquing this mans life? I don’t think any of us would have made it through what this remarkable human being did. How nice for you to be able to decide you thought it was “repetitive.” good grief.

    Comment by amy s — September 7, 2012 @ 11:19 pm | Reply

    • Hi Amy, Point well taken. I guess you have to be careful when reviewing non-fiction. The repetitive remark was directed at the writing/readability of the book. There is no one that would question that what Zamperini went through was anything but heroic. Thanks for commenting!

      Comment by susanbright — September 8, 2012 @ 12:21 pm | Reply

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