Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"Unbroken" Review

Another gap in my posts....A terrible thing happened.  My Nook broke.  I was in the middle of Unbroken and the screen cracked.  So I had to wait for the hard copy to come in at the library.  But I'm finished.  And, by the way, I do not intend to buy another Nook.  I'll hold out for an iPad.

Unbroken is possibly the best biography I have ever read.  It was truly inspiring.  How someone can dig so deep and survive events and situations so completely horrendous and demoralizing is unfathomable to me.  But Zamparini did.  I was also impressed with the power of religion and faith in Christ to turn one's life around.  As low as Zamparini had sunk, hope in the gospel pulled him back up from the depths of despair.  It saved his life.  

Finally, this book gave me a much deeper appreciation for veterans of all wars, especially those captured behind enemy lines.  They deal with more pain, trauma, and stress than most of us can even fathom, much less survive.

My favorite selection from the book:

"When the guards weren't venting their fury at the captives, the entertained themselves by humiliating them.  Every day, at gunpoint, Louie was forced to stand up and dance, staggering through the Charleston while his guards roared with laughter.  The guards made Louie whistle and sing, pelted him with fistfuls of gravel, taunted him as he crawled around his cell to pick up bits of rice, and slid long sticks through the door window so they could stab and swat him, finding his helpless contortions hilarious.  Down the hall, the guards did the same to Phil.  Sometimes Louie could hear Phil's voice, tiny and thin, groaning.  Once, driven to his breaking point by a guard dabbing him, Louie yanked the stick from the guard's hands.  He knew he might get killed for it, but under this unceasing degradation, something was happening to him.  His will to live, resilient through all of the trials on the raft, was beginning to fray. 

"The crash of Green Hornet had left Louie and Phil in the most desperate physical extremity, without food, water, or shelter.  But on Kwajalein, the guards sought to deprive them of something that had sustained them even 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.  Men subjected to dehumanizing treatment experience profound wretchedness and loneliness and find that hope is almost impossible to retain.  Without dignity, identity is erased.  In its absence, men are defined not by themselves, buy by their captors and the circumstances in which they are forced to live.  one American airman, shot down and relentlessly debased by his Japanese captors, described the state of mind that his captivity created: 'I was literally becoming a lesser human being.'

"Few societies treasured dignity, and feared humiliation, as did the Japanese, for whom a loss of honor could merit suicide.  This is likely on of the reasons why Japanese soldiers in World War II debased their prisoners with such zeal, seeking to take from them that which was most painful and destructive to lose.  On Kwajalein, Louie and Phil learned a dark truth known to the doomed in Hitler's death camps, the slaves of the American South, and a hundred other generations of betrayed people.  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.  The loss of it can carry a man off as surely as thirst, hunger, exposure, and asphyxiation, and with greater cruelty.  In places like Kwajalein, degradation could be as lethal as a bullet." (pg 182-183)

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