Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
“Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” is a biographical narrative written by Laura Hillenbrand about the indomitable Louie Zamperini. The novel begins with Louie’s troubled youth, his discovery of distance running, and subsequent participation in Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics. There he roomed with Jesse Owens, shook Hitler’s hand, and stole a Nazi flag. Although Nineteen-year old Louie didn’t medal, he was the top American finisher and set his sites on the 1940 Tokyo Olympics. However, World War II would bring the cancellation of those games, and thrust young Louie into a harrowing and disturbing fight for “survival, resilience and redemption.”
|Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption is a biographical narrative written by Laura Hillenbrand about the indomitable Louis Zamperini. The novel begins with Louie’s troubled youth, his discovery of distance running, and subsequent participation in Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics. There he roomed with Jesse Owens, shook Hitler’s hand, and stole a Nazi flag. Although Nineteen-year old Louie didn’t medal, he was the top American finisher and set his sites on the 1940 Tokyo Olympics. However, World War II would bring the cancellation of those games. Louie enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces and was deployed to the Pacific as a B-24 bombardier following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. During a routine search for a downed aircraft, Louie and eleven other men aboard an old bomber named The Green Hornet, go down over the Pacific. What follows is Louie’s harrowing and disturbing “story of survival, resilience and redemption.”|
Book Club Party Ideas for Unbroken
Host a 1940s USO themed book club party for Unbroken with plenty of patriotic decorations. USO clubs were set up during World War II all over the United States in churches, museums, barns, storefronts, railroad cars — wherever space was available — to provide a little respite from the war for soldiers. Social activities such as potlucks and dances were held. And, very important to the USO social gatherings were the young hostesses. Hostesses were encouraged to dress their best and look pretty, and to entertain the young men. Only good girls need apply!
Dress for you party as Rosie the Riveter by wearing your hair in a bandana, shirt with sleeves rolled-up, and jeans or overalls; a USO hostess in pretty ’40s clothes to cheer the troops; or throw on some khakis.
The music of the forties is fantastic with sounds from The Andrews Sisters, and swing and big band. Music like this was played in the USO clubs across the U.S. to help cheer the servicemen and get their minds off the war, if only for a few hours.
Book Club Menu for Unbroken
Plan a USO-style potluck for your book club guests. Whole communities came together to make the USO potlucks extra special for the troops. Even though sugar and beef were hard to come by, there was no scrimping at these potlucks for the young servicemen.
Ice down plenty of Pepsi. In the 1940s, Pepsi-Cola (as it was known back then) adopted a red, white, and blue logo to support America’s war effort.
Book Club Resources for Unbroken
Ratings at the time this post was published
|Goodreads: 4.55 stars (8993 reviews)|
|Amazon: 4.8 stars (1230 reviews)|
|Barnes & Noble: 4 stars (1887 reviews)|
|My Rating: 4.75 stars A gripping account of Louie Zamperini’s WWII experiences. I couldn’t put this novel down!|
Discussion Questions for Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
- America tried to avoid direct entry into WWII, but was pulled in after the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Did this novel, in general, affect your views on war, and more specifically, on the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? If so, in what ways?
- Louie endured many horrific experiences during the war, miraculously surviving each. Today (at post date) Louie is a vibrant age 94. Do you believe by mere chance “Lucky Louie” survived WWII or did Louie’s survival come from some unique qualities or strengths? Explain your response.
- Unbroken conjures up many emotions. What emotion did you feel most strongly while reading this novel?
- Despite adoption of the 1929 Geneva Convention on the fundamental rights of POWs, the Japanese blatantly disregarded it, and inflicted unconscionable brutality and degradations on their captives during WWII. What do you think accounts for such levels of cruelty, especially coming from a highly civilized society as Japan?
- Louie, as experienced by many war veterans, had a difficult time readjusting to day-to-day life after the war. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was still not acknowledged during this time. It was referred to as “shell shock” and considered more a sign of personal weakness. Why do you think this disorder was not fully recognized before 1980, especially given the dismal statistics on the WWI and WWII veterans?
Purchase Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand at your favorite bookseller
American author Laura Hillenbrand was born in 1967 and currently resides in Washington DC with her husband, Borden Flanagan. Hillenbrand has published magazine articles in American Heritage, The New Yorker, and Equus, and the novels Unbroken (2010), and Seabiscuit: An American Legend (2001).
Our book club likes to plan book-related outings whenever we get the chance. In our very own backyard we have the National Museum of the Pacific War, originally named The Admiral Nimitz Museum, in Fredericksburg, Texas. Check for museums in your area and plan a history outing to learn a bit more about the war in the Pacific.
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