Hillenbrand pays tribute to pilot’s endurance and redemption

by Lynn Lofton

Published: April 1,2012

Tags: Laura Hillenbrand, Louis Silvie Zamperini, Seabiscuit

When a retired newspaper editor and avid reader recommends a book, chances are it’s a good book. Such is the case with B.J. Trotter’s glowing recommendation of Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, who also wrote “Seabiscuit.”

Now a resident of Anderson, S.C., where she was an editor at the Independent-Mail, Trotter is the former Betty Turner Frazier who was an editor at the Petal Journal and the Jackson Daily News. She says of this book, “This is the story of one man’s path through history, a path at times as difficult for the reader as it was for the subject of Hillenbrand’s biography.

“Louis Silvie Zamperini broke records on land and, by a twist of fate, on the sea. His greatest achievement was that his will remained unbroken. His path leaves the reader wondering how much a man can endure and ultimately redeem itself for the reader just as Zamperini finds the ‘redemption’ of the title.”

The story of the 473-page book begins on a May afternoon in 1943 when an Army Air Forces bomber crashes into the Pacific Ocean and disappears. A young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, struggled to a life raft and pulled himself aboard. That’s the beginning of one of the most extraordinary odysseys of WWII. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft and beyond all of that, a trial even greater.

“There are many reasons to like this meticulously researched and documented book,” Trotter said. “Its amazing plot twists reflect the detours along the now-95-year-old Zamperini’s way; at times seeming more like fiction than truth. I recommend Unbroken because it is a testament to the human spirit and a reminder of how good we really have it, but the main reason is that it would be a shame to miss the odyssey.”

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