Sunday, May 11, 2014

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

For my addition to the syllabus, I would like to recommend Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Unbroken is the story of Louis Zamperini, an olympic track star who is forced to give up his dream to join the Navy during World War II. While flying over the Pacific Ocean, Louis' plane gets shot down and he is left floating in a severely under-equipped lifeboat with one other person for months a la Earnest Shackleton. Louis eventually drifts all the way to Japan where he is captured and imprisoned as a POW for years. During his time in capture, Louis is beaten to within an inch of his life but perseveres until he is rescued by American forces at the end of the war.

I am recommending this book because I think it will challenge our notion of what an adventure is and bring a different perspective to people's motivations for adventure. In particular, it will let us examine armed combat as a form of extreme adventure. While I don't think this book fits with the current reading list, I do think that it would give a new, but related, perspective to the course. Also, the book is written by Laura Hillenbrand, who wrote Seabiscuit, and it is absolutely riveting. I would say that the book most closely resembles Endurance, in the type of adversity that Louis must endure, but in a different climate, the South Pacific. I think that Unbroken addresses many of the issues that we have discussed from a different angle and would help guide discussions in class, also its an awesome read.

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