Every time I read a story of survival I’m amazed at what people can put up with and still come out the other side. Unbroken is both a biography and a story of survival. Louis Zamperini’s pre-war life is amazing enough: he was an uncontrollable kid born to an immigrant family, the town troublemaker turned star olympic athlete, and even thief of a flag from Hitler’s house, (a little bit of the troublemaker stuck around).
During the war Zamperini’s bomber had to ditch into the Pacific, but he survived the crash then he and his pilot set a record for time alive in a rubber raft before ending up in the Japanese POW system. Louis seemed to be able to adapt to whatever environment he was in: School, the Army Air Force, a raft, POW camps, and eventually home, (which might have been the toughest). During the war, at least, he made sure to prepare himself for any possible situation, especially the possibility of having to survive at sea, by learning as much as possible.
Unbroken was published in 2010. It may be one of the last great biographies of the greatest generation, and the last war stories that relies on first-hand accounts. In writing Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand was able to interview many of the people featured in the book. By the time the book was published most of those survivors were gone, today I believe they all are.