Friday, February 17, 2012

Writing to Inspire

"In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit.  Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit."  -Amazon book description


I love to read World War II biographies and autobiographies. The WWII era is my favorite because a nation...the world...came together to stop evil. And they did this even before they knew just how evil the enemy truly was.

But I was completely taken aback when I read Unbroken by Hillenbrand.

I knew nothing about Louis Zamperini when I started the book. When I finished the book, I not only knew about him...I wanted to be like him!


"All he could see, in every direction, was water. It was June 23, 1943. Somewhere on the endless expanse of the Pacific Ocean, Army Air Forces bombardier and Olympic runner Louie Zamperini lay across a small raft, drifting westward..."  -from the Preface.

Louis Zamperini went from a troubled childhood of deliquency to harnessing all that energy into running. His running took him all the way to the Berlin Olympics where he almost beat the 4 min. mile. As a result of his running capabilities, he is asked to shake the hand of one Adolph Hitler.

Then, WWII broke out and Zamperini joined the military as an airman, was shot down over the Pacific, and became stranded in the ocean. He and his fellow crewman fought off leaping sharks, thirst, and starvation.

It is here that Zamperini makes the solemn vow to God that if He saves them, he will spend the rest of his life serving Him.

The Vow

How many of us have made a similar vow to God? Did we keep it when God made good on His promise?

The rest of the book describes how Zamperini's resolve, both physical and mental, is tested beyound compare. I have read many books about WWII, but this author does an impeccable job chronicling the torture and suffering Zamperini endures. I found myself asking how much more can a human being face and still live?

But that vow lingers and it forces Zamperini to survive another day.


As writers of fiction and non-fiction, we have the ability to inspire people to keep going, break free, or endure to the end with our words. This is what Hillenbrand accomplishes beautifully with her words. Hundreds of hours of interviews with her subject along with searching through photographs paid off. Unbroken will go down in history as one of the best inspirational biographies of a WWII veteran ever written.

If you want a young person to be inspired by the endurance of the human spirit, by the honoring of a vow, or by the discipline of an athlete...this book cannot be recommended enough!

Louie carried the torch for the 1984 Olympic games

Put it in the hands of someone who needs their spirits lifted. They will not be disappointed.

Your turn: What non-fiction book has inspired you? In what ways?


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