January 2011: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Discussion Questions:

  1. Can you point to specific passages that struck you personally-as interesting, profound, amusing, illuminating, disturbing, sad…?
  2. Have you learned something new reading this book?
  3. Has it broadened your perspective about a difficult issue-personal or societal?
  4. Do you think the way the book was written makes more or less interesting?
  5. Does this book increase/decrease your knowledge and respect for the soldiers who fought on all sides in WWII?
  6. Zamperini was 80 when his story was told to the author. Does his age make you question the veracity of the story?
  7. How does not only his age, but the torture’s he endures credit or discredit him?
  8. The NYTimes compared this book to The Odyssey. In what ways is Zamperini’s experience similar to Odysseus?
  9. The Japanese are incredibly sensitive to the actions taken by their nation during the war. While Germany has been unable to shake the specter of its past, Japan seems to have been able to reinvent itself. In what ways did this book (re)introduce to you the horrors perpetrated by the Japanese during WWII? Does this make you look at them differently?
  10. According to the NYTimes reviewer:

    On a number of small but dubious points she gives him a pass: Could a neighbor really have sewn back on a toe Zamperini severed during a childhood accident? Would a family so poor that it shot rabbits to feed the children also have owned a car? More seriously, she rarely forces him to reach. “Unbroken” offered her an unusual chance to study and dissect a man who had undergone extreme duress. But virtually everything about Zamperini is filtered through her capable yet rather denatured voice, and we don’t really hear him. So, while a startling narrative and an inspirational book of a rather traditional sort, “Unbroken” is also a wasted opportunity to break new psychological ground.

Do you agree or disagree? Why?

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