During the last several months I have read several WW2 stories about survival, resistance, and perseverance. The first book that hooked me was Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff followed by Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas, and then Lost in Shangri-La, also written by Mitchell Zuckoff.
None has affected me so profoundly as the book that I just finished reading. Now, I am not one to write book reviews, this really won't be a review per se, but Unbroken: A World War II story about Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand moved me. It was inspirational, gripping, tragic, heartbreaking, and sobering.
As I read the life story of Louie Zamperini my heart ached for him and his family. At one point in the book, I paused and stated to Daryl that I could not understand why this book was titled Unbroken. As I read on, I was moved to tears.
After being stranded aboard a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean for 47 days, Zamperini became a prisoner of war in Japan. He suffered under the cruel hand of men during a dark time in our history. As he lay in a prison cell, separated from his friend and comrade, he realized that his will to live was lost because he was being stripped of his dignity.
"The guards sought to deprive them [Zamperini & Phillips] of something that had sustained them as all else had been lost: dignity. This self respect and sense of self-worth, the innermost armament of the soul, lies at the heart of humanness; to be deprived of it is to be dehumanized, to be cleaved from and cast below mankind...without dignity identity is erased. In its absence, men are defined not by themselves, but by their captors and the circumstances in which they are forced to live...Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food, and oxygen. The stubborn retention of it, even in the face of extreme physical hardship, can hold a man's soul in his body long past the point at which the body should have surrendered it."
There is more that I can write about. How do we as a nation support our military coming home from war? How do we love our enemies as Christ instructs us to? How do we come to terms with God in the midst of suffering and abuse? How does faith transform a person so completely? As I let these questions roll through my thoughts, I encourage you to read this book.
Unbroken is a testament of the human spirit's ability to endure much and furthermore, forgive much.