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Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

biography of Louis Zamperini by Laura Hillenbrand
For the feature film, see Unbroken (film).

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (2010) by Laura Hillenbrand is a biography of Olympic athlete and World War II veteran Louis Zamperini.



Ch. 1: The One-Boy InsurgencyEdit

  • In the 1930s, America was infatuated with the pseudoscience of eugenics and its promise of strengthening the human race by culling the "unfit" from the genetic pool. Along with the "feebleminded," insane, and criminal, those so classified included women who had sex out of wedlock (considered a mental illness), orphans, the disabled, the poor, the homeless, epileptics, masturbators, the blind and the deaf, alcoholics, and girls whose genitals exceeded certain measurements. Some eugenicists advocated euthanasia, and in mental hospitals, this was quietly carried out on scores of people through "lethal neglect" or outright murder. At one Illinois mental hospital, new patients were dosed with milk from cows infected with tuberculosis, in the belief that the undesirable would perish. As many as four in ten of those patients died. A more popular tool of eugenics was forced sterilization, employed on a raft of lost souls who, through misbehavior of misfortune, fell into the hands of state governments. By 1930, when Louie was entering his teens, California was enraptured with eugenics, and would ultimately sterilize some twenty thousand people.
    • p. 11

Ch. 5: Into WarEdit

  • In Europe, Hitler was laying plans to conquer the continent. In Asia, Japan's leaders had designs of equal magnitude... Central to the Japanese identity was the belief that it was Japan's divinely mandated right to rule its fellow Asians, whom it saw as inherently inferior. "There are superior and inferior races in the world," said the Japanese politician Nakajima Chikuhei in 1940, "and it is the sacred duty of the leading race to lead and enlighten the inferior ones." The Japanese, he continued, are "the sole superior race of the world." Moved by necessity and destiny, Japan's leaders planned to "plant the blood of the Yamato [Japanese] race" on their neighboring nations' soil. They were going to subjugate all of the Far East.
    • p. 43

Ch 12: DownedEdit

  • The men were surrounded by water but they couldn't drink it. The salt content in seawater is so high that it is considered a poison. When a person drinks seawater, the kidneys must generate urine to flush the salt away, but to do so, they need more water than is contained in the seawater itself, so the body pulls water from its cells. Bereft of water, the cells begin to fail. Paradoxically, a drink of seawater causes potentially fatal dehydration.
    • p. 128

Ch. 16: Singing in the CloudsEdit

  • As he watched this beautiful, still world, Louie played with a thought that had come to him before. He had thought it as he had watched hunting seabirds, marveling at their ability to adjust their dives to compensate for the refraction of light in water. He had thought it as he had considered the pleasing geometry of the sharks, their gradation of color, their slide through the sea. He even recalled the thought coming to him in his youth, when he had lain on the roof of the cabin at the Cahuilla Indian Reservation, looking up from Zane Grey to watch night settling over the earth. Such beauty, he thought, was too perfect to have come about by mere chance. That day in the center of the Pacific was, to him, a gift crafted deliberately, compassionately, for him and Phil.
    • p. 166

Ch. 18: A Dead Body BreathingEdit

  • Few societies treasured dignity, and feared humiliation, as did the Japanese, for whom a loss of honor could merit suicide. This is likely one 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, with greater cruelty. In places like Kwajalein, degradation could be as lethal as a bullet.
    • p. 183

Ch. 23: MonsterEdit

  • Mutsuhiro attended Tokyo's prestigious Waseda University, where he studied French literature and cultivated an infatuation with nihilism.
    • p. 233

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