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Islington Branch Book Club - Past Titles: "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand

Take a look through previous titles we've discussed at our Islington Branch Book Club

"Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand

  1. **Louis Zamperini's resilience is a central theme in "Unbroken." How does his background and early life contribute to his ability to endure the challenges he faced during World War II?

  2. **The book covers Louis Zamperini's experiences as a prisoner of war in Japan. How did his time in captivity impact his mental and physical well-being, and what strategies did he employ to survive?

  3. **Discuss the role of friendship and camaraderie in Louis Zamperini's survival story. How did his relationships with other prisoners contribute to their collective resilience?

  4. **Hillenbrand explores the theme of forgiveness, especially in Louis Zamperini's post-war life. How does Zamperini's journey towards forgiveness provide insights into the human capacity for resilience and healing?

  5. **Louis Zamperini's Olympic career is a significant part of the narrative. How does his experience as an athlete influence his ability to endure physical and mental hardships during the war?

  6. **The book provides a detailed account of the Pacific theater during World War II. How does Hillenbrand bring historical events to life, and what impact does this have on the reader's understanding of the war?

  7. **Discuss the psychological effects of war on individuals, as illustrated through Louis Zamperini's experiences. How did his time in combat and as a POW shape his post-war life?

  8. **Louis Zamperini faced not only physical challenges but also moral and ethical dilemmas during his wartime experiences. Explore how he navigated these challenges and the impact on his character.

  9. **The book touches on the themes of faith and spirituality. How did Louis Zamperini's beliefs play a role in his survival and recovery?

  10. **Examine the portrayal of the Japanese captors in "Unbroken." How does Hillenbrand present the humanity of both the prisoners and their captors, and what does this reveal about the complexities of war?

  11. **"Unbroken" explores the idea of the indomitable human spirit. In what ways does Zamperini's story inspire and challenge our understanding of human resilience?

  12. **Reflect on the significance of the title, "Unbroken." How does it encapsulate the overarching theme of the book, and how does Zamperini's story contribute to the broader narrative of resilience and survival?

Laura Hillenbrand is an American author best known for her nonfiction works, particularly her bestselling books centered around historical events and figures. Here is a brief biography of Laura Hillenbrand:

Early Life:

  • Laura Hillenbrand was born on May 15, 1967, in Fairfax, Virginia, USA.
  • She developed a passion for writing and storytelling from an early age.


  • Hillenbrand attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where she studied literature and creative writing.

Health Challenges:

  • Hillenbrand has struggled with chronic fatigue syndrome (myalgic encephalomyelitis) since her college years.
  • Despite the challenges posed by her health condition, she has continued to pursue her writing career with determination.


  • Laura Hillenbrand gained widespread recognition with her debut book, "Seabiscuit: An American Legend," published in 2001. The book tells the story of the racehorse Seabiscuit and its impact on American culture during the Great Depression. The book was a major bestseller and was later adapted into a successful film.

  • Her second major work, "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption," was published in 2010. The book follows the life of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete and World War II veteran. Like "Seabiscuit," "Unbroken" became a bestseller and received critical acclaim.

Writing Style:

  • Hillenbrand is known for her meticulous research and engaging storytelling.
  • Her writing often focuses on historical events and individuals, bringing to light stories that may have been overlooked.


  • Both "Seabiscuit" and "Unbroken" have been praised for their narrative depth, historical accuracy, and the ability to make history accessible to a wide audience.
  • Hillenbrand's books have resonated with readers, and her works are often used in educational settings to teach history and literature.


  • Laura Hillenbrand has received numerous awards for her contributions to literature, including the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award for "Seabiscuit."
  • "Unbroken" also received several awards and nominations.

Laura Hillenbrand's career is marked by her ability to tell captivating and inspirational stories from history, showcasing resilience, determination, and the indomitable human spirit.


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