Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilence, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (who also wrote the bestselling Seabiscuit) is the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete, World War II pilot, and survivor of Japanese prison camps.
Hillenbrand begins at the beginning, looking at what drove Zamperini to funnel his energies into track and field (he competed in the 1936 Olympics in Munich), and then into the war effort.
When his plane went down, he and his crew survived starvation, shark attacks, and forty-seven days at sea in the Pacific before they made landfall and were found by a Japanese boat. They then endured years in prison camps, and then the years after his release, dealing with the aftermath of his experiences.
What's stunning about the story, though, is something Hillenbrand makes very clear: that while this is one story, powerful and moving, there are thousands of other stories out there, of veterans doing amazing things to survive in the darkest times. As she says, in the article quoted below, "Louis is definitely a hero," she says. "What he did for this country is
something that really moves me. I don't, though, want to separate him
from all the other men around him who did the same thing. They're all
extraordinary. I want him to be representative of all of them, rather
than somebody who stands apart from them."
You can hear an hour-long interview with the author via Minnesota Public Radio. (That link also has additional background.) There's more information at the author's website.
And you can find the book in our Browsing Room on the Discoveries section.