World War II Era - A Favorite
December 06, 2012
I am fascinated by the history of the 40s. Perhaps it's because I was born during the era. In particular, I like to learn about World War II and how the people on both continents survived. Most of my reading, until recently, has been concentrated in the fiction genre. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Suite Françoise by Irene Nemirovsky, Jenna Blum's Those Who Save Us, Tatiana de Rosnay's Sarah's Key, and Sarah Blake's The Postmistress are just a few of the books I’ve read.
My all-time favorites, up until now, were Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris and John Katzenbach's Hart's War. However, for over a year, I’ve kept an eye on the New York Times Best Seller List. It had Laura Hillenbrand’s nonfiction book, Unbroken: a World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, listed for weeks and weeks. (At the time of writing this blog, it was 104 weeks.) And now it is over two years. In addition, I would look up reviews and always found that writers gave it 5*s. Well, I thought, I have to read it. And, discuss it with other readers. I put my name on the hold list and waited. And waited…and waited…and waited. Finally, I received notice that my copy was ready.
Unbroken is intense, but not depressing. I started to read it in small pieces to absorb the story of Louie Zamperini. After reading just the first two pages, I was hooked. I knew it turned out okay, so I set about the task of finishing this monumental book. Louie was a hellion in his youth. He gained his fame as a runner in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where he met Hitler. He joined the Army Air Corps when World War II broke out. That training as an athlete helped him survive the ordeal of being adrift in the Pacific Ocean and his subsequent capture by the Japanese.
I won’t say any more. About halfway through, I couldn’t put the book down and found myself reading it in the car on a recent road trip. Then the next morning, I took it to an area fast food restaurant. I stayed until I finished it. I know from research on the Internet that the author has chronic fatigue syndrome and is housebound. She never met the man she wrote about until after the book was published. Her research was extensive and included much from Louie’s diaries.
I’m glad I have a new book to recommend to both men and women. Now I wonder if it will ever sit on the shelves long enough for that to happen. This one is well worth waiting for.