As a spirited boy he was on the path to delinquency until the support of his brother, combined with his natural athletic ability, led him instead to the Olympics. At nineteen he was the youngest competitor in his event. He didn’t win a medal, but he left the Berlin Games determined to do better at the next games in four years.
His biography would have been the inspiring story of a record-breaking track and field star if World War II hadn’t interrupted his sporting career.
He joined the Army Air Corps. Unbroken tells the story of Louie’s experience as a bombardier in the South Pacific.
At times it’s difficult to read because Louie is such a likeable character and terrible things happen to him.
His plane crashes in the Pacific. Louie and his fellow survivor spend forty-seven days drifting on a rubber raft before they’re captured by the Japanese and interned in a POW camp.
Unbroken doesn’t end with Japan’s surrender, Louie’s liberation and vague implications of happily ever after. It’s a better book than that.
We follow him home and witness his challenges reintegrating into normal life. We know so much more about conditions like PTSD now, yet we still lose returning military personnel to suicide. Back in Louie’s day there no support and he struggled to regain his mental and emotional wellbeing.
I won’t give away too much, but the title is Unbroken and against the odds, Louie does indeed remain unbroken.