This month’s book group read was non-fiction which is unusual for us. Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken is the story of former athelete and World War II bombardier, Louis Zamperini. A historically interesting read, however at times I found the tone a little impersonal and it did often feel a bit like reading a history book, rather than narrative non-fiction. I think this have resulted from the fact that Hillenbrand has no personal experience of the subject matter and that often war veterans do not like to talk about their emotions. It’s odd that with her background in sports writing, the sporting sections were a little boring.
As a Brit, most my World War II reading does cover the European/Soviet aspects so it was interesting to read a bit more about the American/Japanese conflict. The life in the POW camps was horrific and be prepared for some uncomfortable scenes. The torture of Louis by The Bird is relentless and it does start to feel repetitive, but it’s hard to criticise non-fiction in this way.
Everyone in book group agreed that if it weren’t a true story we would have thought the plot completely unbelievable. I do think it’s in a lot of people’s nature to exaggerate stories, so maybe I can forgive the unrealistic shark attacks (though looking back, their raft was full of bird corpses which would attract some interest from scavengers).
The book has the most reference notes I have seen in a long time! Whilst some areas of history felt a bit skimmed over, the book would have been unreasonably long if they were expanded on and at least you could find further information if you were so inclined.
Everyone enjoyed this book which must be a first for book group! The lowest score out of 10 was 7 and I think someone gave it full marks. Someone mentioned that it felt a bit like a film script…and it is being made into a film though not until 2014.