By Chet Yarbrough
By Laura Hillenbrand
Narrated by Edward Herrmann
Laura Hillenbrand (Author)
Hyperactivity in children is a blessing and curse.
Louis Zamperini (1917-2014, American WWII Veteran, participant in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.)
Every parent that faces life with a hyperactive child listens to Hillenbrand’s story of Louis Zamperini and thinks of what might be if their child’s high energy can be focused rather than blurred by the hurly-burly of life.
Hillenbrand vivifies Louis’s life with stories of his early years of running away, hopping trains, practical joking, stealing, and raising hell. Louis idolizes an older brother that lives a more conventional life but Louis refuses to follow the placid image of the good son; the obedient child.
Fortunately, Louis is blessed with a tolerant mother and a stern, but understanding, father who accepts Louis for himself rather than what he, or his mother, want him to be. Louis does not outgrow his hyperactivity but channels his energy into the discipline of a sport.
With that beginning description of Louis Zamperini, Hillenbrand tells the story of Zamperini’s advance as a world class runner; i.e. the youngest member of the near 4 minute mile club of the 1936 Olympics.
Louis meets Adolph Hitler, not as a winner of the race, but as an Olympic competitor that gives all he has-to be the best he can be.
Zamperini is alleged to have said “I was pretty naïve about world politics, and I thought he looked funny, like something out of a Laurel and Hardy film.”
Louis Zamperini returning from imprisonment as a POW with his mother (Louise) and father in the backrground.)
World War II strikes the United States at Pearl Harbor. Zamperini’s stellar running career is grounded. He returns home to be drafted by the Army/Air Force. He becomes a bombardier.
Zamperini is assigned to a B-24 Liberator as a bombardier.
The story of “Unbroken” begins with a rescue mission for a B-27 crew downed in the Pacific Ocean. The rescue crew includes Louis Zamperini.
The rescue crew is unsuccessful; i.e. the lost crew is not found.
On the return flight, engine trouble forces the rescue plane into the Ocean. Three men (possibly four out of 20 plus men) survive the crash. With a poorly provisioned life raft, two live to be placed in a Japanese prison camp, Louis and the rescue plane’s pilot.
This story of survival is inspirational. It can be listened to as a true adventure. One may also hear a cautionary tale about parenting.
It is difficult to raise children in an affluent society where both parents must work to pay the bills. One wonders about the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder).
Where does a parent draw the line on drug treatment for children with this diagnosis? Is the diagnosis real or is it a symptom of a society that does not have enough time to parent?