Unbroken , by Laura Hillenbrand tells the story of Olympian Louis Zamperini and those he served with in the Pacific front during WWII. It's not a story of military battles lost and won but of battles for the souls of men as Louis and fellow soldiers face war and struggle to survive after their plane crashes in the Pacific ocean (I'm not giving anything more away than what's in the prologue here).
When reading a book like this, the true story of some incredibly horrific situations that people actually faced, I hate saying I enjoyed it. I feel almost repugnant using that word as a voyeur into someone's tragedy but there's no escaping that I'm glad I read it.
The first part of the book, covering Louis' childhood and pursuit of Olympic dreams engaged me but then I found myself avoiding reading his story once the war started for two reasons 1) Ms Hillenbrand crams a lot of necessary but not necessarily captivating information about the planes and the war into this section 2) I knew a bit of the horrors that awaited Louis and I honestly didn't want to face them. Yet at some point, I was hooked and compelled to read straight through until I finished (probably from 25% until the end). Yes, that was me sneaking in paragraphs at the Yankee game whenever innings changed or pitchers changed or even when players argued calls (there was some bad umpiring at this particular game - and apologies to Rain for my distraction).
But one of my main motivations to finish wasn't my impending book club meeting or to find out what happened to Louis (it's obvious from the get-go that he survives), it was to find out what happened to Louis' friend and pilot, Phil. Ms. Hillenbrand (probably intentionally) left his fate and the fate of many of Louis' colleagues in question until the end and I had to know - did he ever marry Cecy...
There were points in the story where I did get confused as to the soldiers that came and went, and some of the facts regarding life in the Japanese POW camps were stomach-turning (but you can't water that down, it wouldn't be right) yet this is definitely a book I think people should (must) read - if only to honor those in some small way that sacrificed so much.