Unbroken: The Power of the Unbelievable

As important as books are to me, I don’t often write recommending a particular individual work for your consideration. (Although it’s important to note that I have read and recommend every book mentioned on leaderhelps.com unless I note differently.) This post, therefore, is an exception.

Last Christmas, a close friend gave me the book, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand. I had heard of the book, but hadn’t yet purchased it. I have since read it twice and recently listened to the audio version on a long trip. It’s that good, and, I think, that important. There aren’t many truly “must-reads” for church lay leaders, pastors, ministers, Sunday School teachers and small group leaders. This book is one.


This isn’t a review, however. To write a review would require me to include too much information about the book’s content and you should experience that for yourself, first hand. In fact, I recommend reading the book before the movie is released this Christmas and before you read or research anything else about the book’s subject, Louis Zamperini. Don’t even wikipedia his name. Just get your own copy of the book, reserve some time to read the account from front to back, and then do all the web searching you please. The end is particularly important, but it is only meaningful if you’ve experienced the pages prior.

Unbroken is Zamperini’s startlingly implausible story of survival during World War II, from more than month adrift at sea to a string of beyond-brutal Japanese prisoner of war camps. In fact, if the story wasn’t  true, and documented profusely, you wouldn’t believe it. And that’s all I’ll say. Laura Hillenbrand, whose own story of suffering may someday merit a book, is the author of Seabiscuit. With Unbroken, she establishes herself as one of the leading writers of non-fiction today.

Much of leaderhelps.com concerns understanding the culture in which we live so that we can lead and teach in ways that connect the Gospel to people meaningfully, one at a time. We are to influence culture, rather than simply responding to it. That means I believe that, as it was for those who found faith in the first century, the narratives that mark our culture can help us understand what life in Christ means and how to communicate that meaning effectively. Further, reading or hearing stories told expertly can teach teachers how stories can and should be used in our own communication.

You won’t be disappointed with Unbroken.