Breaking Down Unbroken

True to the promise that I made to myself, I did not watch Unbroken until I had finished Lauren Hillenbrand's accounting of Louis Zamperini's near unfathomable tale of struggle and survival.

The Olympian/WWII veteran's biography has received substantial attention with the release of the major motion picture last December. The film received a substantial $115,637,895 domestically, but the book has performed better in reviews and has sold over 4 million copies as of June 2014.

The true story follows Louis' path from boyhood to manhood, including the transformation from  ruffian to Olympian, and goofy GI to emaciated POW. Hillenbrand tells of early life experiences, character traits, and specific events that mold Louis into the man capable of surviving the impossible. The tale of survival demonstrates the power of positive attitude, even in the most dire circumstances, the value of dignity to a human being, and forgiveness as a means to redemption. In this way, a man's heinous experience can be understood and associated with the everyday issues we all face in life.

Unbroken connects the reader with a real-life hero in Louis Zamperini. The man overcame some of the most cruel adversity with optimism and a sense of humor, but he is not dehumanized as a perfect man. His faults serve as a channel of empathy for the reader, an identifier. Yet, his victories in both common and terrible situations show us the strength of the human spirit when compelled by love, truth, and the will to live.

If you haven't read Unbroken yet, the Fourth of July season is as good a time as any to discover the cost of liberty from a POW's perspective.

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