AMERICANA: The Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand

Probably you have seen or at least heard about the new movie Unbroken, about a man who survived his bomber crashing into the Pacific and then a tortuous lengthy stay in a Japanese prison camp and emerged unbroken.   The movie was based on a book by that name written by Laura Hillenbrand, who also wrote Seabiscuit, which also was turned into a major motion picture back in 2003.

While day dreaming yesterday I happened to think of Hillenbrand and those two books and how different in subject matter they seem to be.   In fact, I have always been impressed by her ability to dive into two unrelated areas of knowledge and come up with a prize job both times, so impressed that I never clearly saw until yesterday how the books were actually closely related.  Both books are about champions, indomitable spirits.   That was the link between horse and human.

And a link to Laura, too.  I recalled hearing that Laura accomplished all this despite some chronic disease that keeps her largely confined to her home, so I googled her and came up with the excellent article linked here.  It came out in 2010 after the publication of Unbroken.   As a tease to entice you to click, let me point out that while Laura interviewed her heroic subject Louis Zamperini 75 times, she wrote the book without ever meeting him in person.  It would have been too taxing.

In reading the article I think you will see that Laura’s life story merits a book and a film as well.   Of course, she was driven to write about Zamperini and Seabiscuit.  They are kindred spirits.


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