My favorite book is Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. Whenever I find a copy for sale at a thrift store or used book store for a few dollars, I’ll buy it to lend out or give away.
About a month ago I decided to take 3 of my copies to work in case any of my coworkers were interested in borrowing a copy.
When one of my coworkers expressed interest in borrowing a copy, I asked what her favorite book was. She replied Unbroken, which is a book I’ve had sitting on my bookshelf for a few years. I decided if she was going to read my favorite book then I was going to read her favorite.
I had seen the movie years ago, so I knew the basic plot. During WWII, Louis Zamperini (former US Olympic athlete) survives a plane crash followed by 47 days lost at sea and 2 years as a prisoner of war.
What I didn’t know was how much better the book was than the movie.
Sure, movie adaptations of books are almost never as good as the actual book. However, I can at least recommend seeing the movie for the majority of books-turned-movies.
Unbroken is sadly not one of those movies. The movie isn’t even worth seeing once you’ve experienced the book.
One of the things I appreciated about the book was how much I learned about Louis from before the war. I was able to learn about the person, the runner, the Olympic athlete – making it even more heartbreaking to read about everything he went through during and after the war.
Two thoughts I had while reading Unbroken were:
- So many members of the US Military died in non-combat situations. Planes frequently crashed during training, and I was shocked how many people ultimately died in situations that shouldn’t have been that dangerous. Even Louis Zamperini’s plane only crashed because it was a crappy plane.
- War is super weird. And not so much in a Miss Congeniality “world peace” kind of way. It’s just weird how the world was at war, people were killing each other, but when somebody was captured by the other side, there were suddenly rules the captors were supposed to follow in how they treated the captives. It’s like, “Oh, I’ll kill you…unless I capture you. Then I’ll feed you and give you a place to sleep”. Also, there are multiple sides of this fight when suddenly the Red Cross comes in like a referee, checking to make sure everybody’s following the rules. Then the war ends, and everybody’s like “Ok, I guess we’re not fighting each other anymore. Can I go home now?”
Anyway, this was a nice change from my typical WWII book. Pretty much every other book I own about WWII focuses on Nazi Germany. Getting a glimpse of what the war was like in the Pacific was eye-opening.