Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand | Audiobook Review

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand | Audiobook ReviewUnbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Narrator: Edward Hermann
Length: 13 Hours 56 Minutes
Published by Random House Publishing Group on November 16th 2010
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, History, Military, Sports, World War II
Pages: 528
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE • Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943. When his Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, against all odds, Zamperini survived, adrift on a foundering life raft. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.  Unbroken is an unforgettable testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit, brought vividly to life by Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand.Hailed as the top nonfiction book of the year by Time magazine • Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for biography and the Indies Choice Adult Nonfiction Book of the Year award   “Extraordinarily moving . . . a powerfully drawn survival epic.”—The Wall Street Journal   “[A] one-in-a-billion story . . . designed to wrench from self-respecting critics all the blurby adjectives we normally try to avoid: It is amazing, unforgettable, gripping, harrowing, chilling, and inspiring.”—New York   “Staggering . . . mesmerizing . . . Hillenbrand’s writing is so ferociously cinematic, the events she describes so incredible, you don’t dare take your eyes off the page.”—People   “A meticulous, soaring and beautifully written account of an extraordinary life.”—The Washington Post   “Ambitious and powerful . . . a startling narrative and an inspirational book.”—The New York Times Book Review  “Magnificent . . . incredible . . . [Hillenbrand] has crafted another masterful blend of sports, history and overcoming terrific odds; this is biography taken to the nth degree, a chronicle of a remarkable life lived through extraordinary times.”—The Dallas Morning News   “An astonishing testament to the superhuman power of tenacity.”—Entertainment Weekly   “A tale of triumph and redemption . . . astonishingly detailed.”—O: The Oprah Magazine   “[A] masterfully told true story . . . nothing less than a marvel.”—Washingtonian   “[Hillenbrand tells this] story with cool elegance but at a thrilling sprinter’s pace.”—Time   “Hillenbrand [is] one of our best writers of narrative history. You don’t have to be a sports fan or a war-history buff to devour this book—you just have to love great storytelling.”—Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Why Did I Listen To This Book?

You know how Audible keeps advertising the same books to you over and over and over again? And then a movie is made out of the book that Audible keeps advertising to you? And then finally it’s like FINE YOU WIN AUDIBLE AND THE UNIVERSE! And you give in and purchase the audiobook with the credits that you horde! Essentially that is what happened with me and Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Don’t get me wrong, typically I really like non-fiction biographies, especially when the story tests the limits of belief. However, I have like a million audiobooks on my to be listened to pile, but somehow all the advertising got under my skin and I obtained the book and oh my goodness, what a harrowing listen. TOTALLY WORTH IT YOU GUYS TOTALLY WORTH YOUR HOURS.

What’s The Story Here?

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand is a biography of Louis Zamperini, son of Italian immigrants — if I am remembering correctly, he might be third generation though — Olympian, bombardier, prisoner of war, alcoholic, and finally – motivational speaker. The book opens up with the beginning of Louie’s life in New York City where he develops a talent for stealing. Later, his family moves to California and to straighten Louie out, he joins the track team. There, he learns he has this gift for running. Eventually Louie is invited to compete in the Olympics in Germany. After the Olympics, he’s got fame, but World War II happens and so like many young men, Louie joins the service. There he is stationed in Hawaii where he becomes a bombardier. From there, Louis is in this battle where his plane is shot down and he and two other men are stranded on this raft in shark infested waters for days. Enough of an ordeal for any person. Then, however, it gets worse upon rescue. You see, they are rescued by the Japanese and sent to a POW camp. The horrors keep mounting.

This book is enough to break your heart. When you read Louis Zamperini’s story, I promise you’ll be moved. I promise you’ll be impressed by the courage that he shows. I even felt empathy for him when he becomes an alcoholic, because honestly, I can’t blame him for self medicating after the horrific trauma that he went through. Then, after you feel the empathy you’ll feel this feeling of being astounded and impressed at the will of this man who keeps on surviving what the world throws at him, eventually overcoming and remaining Unbroken. This book is amazing is what I am saying. It is not at all an easy read.

How’s The Writing?

I never really know what to expect when I go into reading a biography or a memoir. Sometimes the writing is really cut and dry, sometimes it’s overly flowery. Actually, that’s like any book. Alas, Laura Hillenbrand strikes an excellent balance in Unbroken where she’s able to describe the horrors and what Louie endures without becoming overdramatic, yet, the book still has heart and soul. I am not entirely sure how much sense that may make to you, but trust this book is ridiculously good and captivating and not at all maudlin. I loved it.

How’s The Narration?

Yo, Richard Gilmore aka Edward Hermann does the narration of Unbroken, God rest his soul and he does a fine job narrating. His pace is on point. His voice doesn’t get overly emotional or weird, but it’s also not monotone and dry. Production values are as expected for a book of this caliber — meaning this is an excellent listen. If you have an interest in Unbroken, I highly recommend the audiobook, but fair warning, some parts are very, very hard to listen to.

Who Should Listen To This Book?

  • People who like war books
  • People with strong stomachs
  • Anyone who has an ounce of empathy within
  • People who like history — but more specific — stories about real, actual people who do extraordinary things

Sum It Up With A GIF:

This GIF is from the movie Unbroken but it’s perfect in that it really does invoke Louie’s triumph over all the horrific events he’s endured.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Okay so I listened to this one like probably maybe over a year ago? A while ago. And YES, it was everything you said because WOW THAT STORY, right? And the fact that he was able to be forgiving and all? Everything about it, just incredible. And I agree with the narrating and production and the writing of the nonfiction, just a perfectly well-rounded read and listen (I did both together, you know me). Of course, because I’m the way that I am, it took me FOREVER to get through because I could only do a few minutes at a time in some parts because just WHOA at what he went through – the parts in the ocean, the camps, that bad bad guy, just some of it. But the power of forgiveness and the relief Louis felt after, just the humanity of it all, this is something that I needed to hear and I won’t forget it. Incredible. I’m so glad you read/listened to this one, April. This is not a light read at all, nor it is a short read when you look at the physical copy, but at the end I really felt like I’d earned this story and I felt like I was better for making it through, which is so small compared to Louis Z and what he went through living it to tell it (so cheesy, but true, right?). Thanks for sharing this! I haven’t seen the movie yet, but perhaps soon.

    I always LOVE reading your thoughts, April. Haven’t been here enough lately to read them, but I always want to. xo

  2. I’ve wanted to read this book since it was released because I LOVED Seabiscuit by the same author. Have you read that book, April? It’s excellent. But I didn’t know that Edward Herman narrates, which means I need to listen to this because Richard Gilmore!

  3. I have Unbroken on my TBR! I’ve been curious ever since I heard about the film, and the story just sounds like it would be a punch in the gut type read. I’m glad to hear that you wound up enjoying it. Can’t wait to read it myself!

  4. haha love your assessment of Audible and its advertising. Great review–I have yet to see the movie even but I’m very interested in the story.