Louie Zamperini, the focus of Laura Hillenbrand’s book “Unbroken: A World War II story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption”, did JUST that. AND he lived to tell about it.
Louie is an interesting guy. A troubled youth he found himself through running. He participated in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and was on track to be the first runner to break the four minute mile. His dreams crashed along with his plane in May of 1943. He survived shark infested waters for 47 days only to sail into enemy territory. His harrowing tale of 2 and a half years in the Japanese POW camps are at times almost unbearable to read.
And yet he survives all this with his dignity intact. In fact, keeping your dignity even in the face of the most brutal hardship is one of the central themes of this book. “Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food and oxygen” writes Hillenbrand.
And as interesting as this book is, the author, Laura Hillenbrand, is JUST as fascinating to me. You might remember her as the author of the 2001 best selling novel “Seabiscuit: An American Legend”. But did you know that Laura suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Her physical health is so poor that years can go by before she is able to leave the confines of her home in Washington DC. She has to make choices about how to expend her energy that I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around. Shower or talk with a friend? At her wedding she was able to attend but only by SITTING the entire time. And she didn’t get around to trying the cake.
And yet this woman whose physical abilities are so impacted has written twice, and beautifully, about phsyical endurance.
This book is well worth the read and book clubs will have much to discuss both about Louie AND, in my opinion, about Laura.