Unbroken, the latest book by Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand, has been quickly making its way around the HABITUAL office. Unbroken tells the harrowing survival story of Olympic runner turned World War II soldier Louis Zamperini. A mischievous kid, Zamperini finds his purpose in track and field, and after nearly cracking the four minute mile at USC, goes on to run the 5000 Meter at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. When the 1940 Olympics are cancelled, Zamperini does what every able man did in the age, and enlists as a bombardier in the Air Force.
During one mission on his B-24, Zamperini and his fellow crewman crash into the Pacific Ocean. One of only 3 survivors, Zamperini clings to a raft, battling sharks, blazing sun, and starvation for 47 days, before finally getting picked up by a Japanese boat near the Marshall Islands. For another 2 years, Zamperini is beaten and tortured, his life spared only by the propaganda value of his status as an Olympic Athlete. Zamperini survives a kill order issued for all POW’s at the end of the war, only to face an even darker challenge, his brutal struggle with alcoholism and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Hillenbrand’s tale is riveting and suspenseful, artfully culled from over 75 personal interviews and thousands of source materials. There’s a reason this book is at the top of the New York Times Bestseller list, it’s the kind of story where you can’t believe the facts, and where non-fiction trumps anything Hollywood creatives, who have been trying to adapt the story for years, could even begin to make up.