Unbroken (Hillenbrand)

I wanted this to be better. I loved Seabiscuit. And it is a good, well-researched piece of narrative non-fiction. But there were more than a few times when this dragged on and on. And on. It’s as if Hillenbrand wanted to make sure that every piece of research was present.

I appreciated how Hillenbrand kept her speculation to a minimum. In my experience, there can be a lot of – “He might have done this because. . .” pseudo-psychological stuff in books like these. Hillenbrand was lucky to be able to speak to Zamperini himself.

In fiction, people speak of the need for a balance between scene and summary. This book is pretty much scene after scene. Almost all of the scenes are compelling, but the weight of them diminished my enthusiasm for the narrative. Though the end of the book helped me see why Hillenbrand spent so much time describing Zamperini’s suffering at the hands of one particular prison guard, I still think that part could have been pared down.

It’s an amazing story. I’m sure I’ll watch the movie version someday. Just not right away.

The book does fill in a gap for me. I’ve ready plenty about WW2 in Europe (Ambrose et al), some about WW2 in North Africa (Atkinson’s excellent trilogy), but who writes about the war with Japan?

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