I was on the elliptical machine today, working out, and finishing the book "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption" by Laura Hillenbrand, and I was bawling. Just crying my eyes out as I finished.
Now, it could've been the book, or it could've been the result of the worst fantasy football day I've ever experience in my 20 years as General Manager. But it probably was a little bit of both.
Hillenbrand wrote "Seabiscuit", which I didn't read - probably because I hate all animals. But I do enjoy history and nonfiction, and gave this a shot when my sister mentioned it over Thanksgiving.
It's about Louis Zamperini, a long distance runner who competed in the 1936 Olympics. Then when the war started he joined the Air Force, crashed in the Pacific, floated on a raft with no food for 47 days surrounded by sharks, got captured by Japan and sent to POW camps, and somehow made it home.
It probably helped my enjoyment that I had no idea of what was going to happen at all. After every 50 pages I would tell whoever was closest to me: "do you know about this? why isn't this more famous?!"
I knew it was going to be good when I was 100 pages into it and I read the Entertainment Weekly review. It basically said that "after you get past the crappy 100 pages, the good story kicks in". Well, I loved the first 100 pages. The dude makes it to the Olympic in an event he only ran 3 times, hangs out with Jesse Owens, then meets Hitler, all in the first hundred pages! What more do you want, EW?
It's after the last part of the book where I began weeping like a baby. I'm not sure why. But I was disappointed the book was ending there. It seemed like after reading about all the torture this guy had been through, he (and I) deserved some time being happy in America. But it was not to be.
While I agree that it's the crazy/amazing stuff that happened to him during the war that makes the story, it seems a little crappy to me that getting home and living a normal life wasn't worth any pages. I mean, you're leaving out 60 (!) years of this guy's life. He's in his 90's and still kicking around LA. You're telling me nothing cool happened in that time?
Anyway, I recommend it. It's rare that a book makes you root for the A-bomb to be unleashed.
And he should be more famous.