History Lessons in Reading: The Unfair Price of War
Right now I’m reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and my mind is reeling from what I’m reading. This is a nonfiction book about a WWII veteran and his survival story. Louis Zamperini’s story starts off with his upbringing and his juvenile delinquent ways. The sport of running, introduced to him by his brother Pete, saved him. His new obsession landed him in college at USC and training for the Olympics. He didn’t place but broke records nonetheless. His dreams redeem himself and stand on the podium in four years in the next Olympics were dashed when the Olympic stadium in Helsinki was partially destroyed when Hitler had begun wreaking havoc all over Europe. The Olympics were canceled.
Without his dream, Louie left college and became a welder at Lockheed Air Corporation. The draft bill came out a few months later as America leaned heavily into joining the war. Instead of waiting to get drafted and risking other branches, he joined the Air Corp. And this is where my head began reeling.
The statistics that the author gives in this book are jaw-dropping, unbelievable, and infuriating. Here’s one of them:
In World War II, 35,933 AAF planes were lost in combat and accidents. The surprise of the attrition rate is that only a fraction of the ill-fated planes were lost in combat. In 1943 in the Pacific Ocean theater in which Phil’s (Louis’s buddy and pilot) crew served, for every plane lost in combat, some six planes were lost in accidents. Over time, combat took a greater toll, but combat losses never overtook noncombat losses.
THAT IS INSANE! How anyone survived to even partake in combat is beyond me. Our military sent these men up on a wing and a prayer, literally. Louie’s perils are just beginning for me since I haven’t finished it but I can see why this book is a bestseller. I did a little research on the author, Laura Hillenbrand, and found this little nugget. And I ask you, other aspiring novelists, if this doesn’t make you feel like a slug:
…since she was a teenager, the 44-year-old author has wrestled with chronic fatigue syndrome, a disease so debilitating that it often leaves her too exhausted to move for days. There have been periods when vertigo made it impossible for her to look at a computer screen. So she wrote with her eyes closed, scribbling on a pad.–quote taken from The Daily Beast, Dec. 21, 2011
WHAT?! And I struggle to scrape out 1000 words in an hour a day?! Eek.
I can see why she felt to compelled to tell Louie’s story. I can only imagine the mountains of research and the colorful conversations she had with him. (Did you know she never met him during the whole time she researched and wrote the story? Her illness prevents her from traveling and they finally met when he came to Washington for a conference some time after the book was published!)
I hope my heart can take it!
- Have you read this book?
- If so, what was the most shocking parts for you?
- If not, what did you read this weekend? Anything you’d recommend?
Hope you had a great weekend and look forward to chatting with you this week!