Also by Laura HillenbrandSEABISCUIT
Copyright 2010 by Laura HillenbrandAll rights reserved.Published in the United States by Random House, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group,a division of Random House, Inc., New York.RANDOM HOUSE and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATAHillenbrand, Laura.Unbroken : a World War II story of survival, resilience, and redemption / Laura Hillenbrand.p. cm.eISBN: 978-0-679-60375-71. Zamperini, Louis, 1917– 2. World War, 1939–1945—Prisoners and prisons, Japanese. 3.Prisoners of war—United States—Biography. 4. Prisoners of war—Japan—Biography. 5. WorldWar, 1939–1945—Aerial operations, American. 6. World War, 1939–1945—Campaigns—PacificArea. 7. United States. Army Air Forces. Heavy Bombardment Group, 307th. 8. Long-distancerunners—United States—Biography. I. Title.D805.J3Z364 2010940.54′7252092—dc22[B] 2010017517www.atrandom.comv3.1
For the wounded and the lost
What stays with you latest and deepest? of curious panics,Of hard-fought engagements or sieges tremendous what deepest remains?—Walt Whitman, “The Wound-Dresser”
CONTENTSCoverOther Books by This AuthorTitle PageCopyrightDedicationMapEpigraphPrefacePART IChapter 1. The One-Boy InsurgencyChapter 2. Run Like MadChapter 3. The Torrance TornadoChapter 4. Plundering GermanyChapter 5. Into WarPART IIChapter 6. The Flying CoffinChapter 7. “This Is It, Boys”Chapter 8. “Only the Laundry Knew How Scared I Was”Chapter 9. Five Hundred and Ninety-four HolesChapter 10. The Stinking SixChapter 11. “Nobody’s Going to Live Through This”PART IIIChapter 12. DownedChapter 13. Missing at SeaChapter 14. ThirstChapter 15. Sharks and BulletsChapter 16. Singing in the CloudsChapter 17. TyphoonPART IVChapter 18. A Dead Body BreathingChapter 19. Two Hundred Silent MenChapter 20. Farting for HirohitoChapter 21. BeliefChapter 22. Plots Afoot
Chapter 23. MonsterChapter 24. HuntedChapter 25. B-29Chapter 26. MadnessChapter 27. Falling DownChapter 28. EnslavedChapter 29. Two Hundred and Twenty PunchesChapter 30. The Boiling CityChapter 31. The Naked StampedeChapter 32. Cascades of Pink PeachesChapter 33. Mother’s DayPART VChapter 34. The Shimmering GirlChapter 35. Coming UndoneChapter 36. The Body on the MountainChapter 37. Twisted RopesChapter 38. A Beckoning WhistleChapter 39. DaybreakEpilogueAcknowledgmentsNotesAbout the Author
PREFACEALL HE COULD SEE, IN EVERY DIRECTION, WAS WATER . It was June 23, 1943. Somewhere on theendless expanse of the Pacific Ocean, Army Air Forces bombardier and Olympic runner LouieZamperini lay across a small raft, drifting westward. Slumped alongside him was a sergeant, one ofhis plane’s gunners. On a separate raft, tethered to the first, lay another crewman, a gash zigzaggingacross his forehead. Their bodies, burned by the sun and stained yellow from the raft dye, hadwinnowed down to skeletons. Sharks glided in lazy loops around them, dragging their backs along therafts, waiting.The men had been adrift for twenty-seven days. Borne by an equatorial current, they had floated atleast one thousand miles, deep into Japanese-controlled waters. The rafts were beginning todeteriorate into jelly, and gave off a sour, burning odor. The men’s bodies were pocked with saltsores, and their lips were so swollen that they pressed into their nostrils and chins. They spent theirdays with their eyes fixed on the sky, singing “White Christmas,” muttering about food. No one waseven looking for them anymore. They were alone on sixty-four million square miles of ocean.A month earlier, twenty-six-year-old Zamperini had been one of the greatest runners in the world,expected by many to be the first to break the four-minute mile, one of the most celebrated barriers insport. Now his Olympian’s body had wasted to less than one hundred pounds and his famous legscould no longer lift him. Almost everyone outside of his family had given him up for dead.On that morning of the twenty-seventh day, the men heard a distant, deep strumming. Every airmanknew that sound: pistons. Their eyes caught a glint in the sky—a plane, high overhead. Zamperinifired two flares and shook powdered dye into the water, enveloping the rafts in a circle of vividorange. The plane kept going, slowly disappearing. The men sagged. Then the sound returned, and theplane came back into view. The crew had seen them.With arms shrunken to little more than bone and yellowed skin, the castaways waved and shouted,their voices thin from thirst. The plane dropped low and swept alongside the rafts. Zamperini saw theprofiles of the crewmen, dark against bright blueness.There was a terrific roaring sound. The water, and the rafts themselves, seemed to boil. It wasmachine gun fire. This was not an American rescue plane. It was a Japanese bomber.The men pitched themselves into the water and hung together under the rafts, cringing as bulletspunched through the rubber and sliced effervescent lines in the water around their faces. The firingblazed on, then sputtered out as the bomber overshot them. The men dragged themselves back onto theone raft that was still mostly inflated. The bomber banked sideways, circling toward them again. As itleveled off, Zamperini could see the muzzles of the machine guns, aimed directly at them.Zamperini looked toward his crewmates. They were too weak to go back in the water. As they laydown on the floor of the raft, hands over their heads, Zamperini splashed overboard alone.Somewhere beneath him, the sharks were done waiting. They bent their bodies in the water andswam toward the man under the raft.
Courtesy of Louis Zamperini. Photo of original image by John Brodkin.
OneThe One-Boy InsurgencyIN THE PREDAWN DARKNESS OF AUGUST 26, 1929, IN THE back bedroom of a small house in Torrance,California, a twelve-year-old boy sat up in bed, listening. There was a sound coming from outside,growing ever louder. It was a huge, heavy rush, suggesting immensity, a great parting of air. It wascoming from directly above the house. The boy swung his legs off his bed, raced down the stairs,slapped open the back door, and loped onto the grass. The yard was otherworldly, smothered inunnatural darkness, shivering with sound. The boy stood on the lawn beside his older brother, headthrown back, spellbound.The sky had disappeared. An object that he could see only in silhouette, reaching across a massivearc of space, was suspended low in the air over the house. It was longer than two and a half footballfields and as tall as a city. It was putting out the stars.What he saw was the German dirigible Graf Zeppelin. At nearly 800 feet long and 110 feet high, itwas the largest flying machine ever crafted. More luxurious than the finest airplane, glidingeffortlessly over huge distances, built on a scale that left spectators gasping, it was, in the summer of’29, the wonder of the world.The airship was three days from completing a sensational feat of aeronautics, circumnavigation ofthe globe. The journey had begun on August 7, when the Zeppelin had slipped its tethers in Lakehurst,New Jersey, lifted up with a long, slow sigh, and headed for Manhattan. On Fifth Avenue thatsummer, demolition was soon to begin on the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, clearing the way for askyscraper of unprecedented proportions, the Empire State Building. At Yankee Stadium, in theBronx, players were debuting numbered uniforms: Lou Gehrig wore No. 4; Babe Ruth, about to hit hisfive hundredth home run, wore No. 3. On Wall Street, stock prices were racing toward an all-timehigh.After a slow glide around the Statue of Liberty, the Zeppelin banked north, then turned out over theAtlantic. In time, land came below again: France, Switzerland, Germany. The ship passed overNuremberg, where fringe politician Adolf Hitler, whose Nazi Party had been trounced in the 1928elections, had just delivered a speech touting selective infanticide. Then it flew east of Frankfurt,where a Jewish woman named Edith Frank was caring for her newborn, a girl named Anne. Sailingnortheast, the Zeppelin crossed over Russia. Siberian villagers, so isolated that they’d never evenseen a train, fell to their knees at the sight of it.On August 19, as some four million Japanese waved handkerchiefs and shouted “Banzai!” theZeppelin circled Tokyo and sank onto a landing field. Four days later, as the German and Japaneseanthems played, the ship rose into the grasp of a typhoon that whisked it over the Pacific atbreathtaking speed, toward America. Passengers gazing from the windows saw only the ship’sshadow, following it along the clouds “like a huge shark swimming alongside.” When the cloudsparted, the passengers glimpsed giant creatures, turning in the sea, that looked like monsters.On August 25, the Zeppelin reached San Francisco. After being cheered down the California coast,it slid through sunset, into darkness and silence, and across midnight. As slow as the drifting wind, itpassed over Torrance, where its only audience was a scattering of drowsy souls, among them the boy
in his pajamas behind the house on Gramercy Avenue.Standing under the airship, his feet bare in the grass, he was transfixed. It was, he would say,“fearfully beautiful.” He could feel the rumble of the craft’s engines tilling the air but couldn’t makeout the silver skin, the sweeping ribs, the finned tail. He could see only the blackness of the space itinhabited. It was not a great presence but a great absence, a geometric ocean of darkness that seemedto swallow heaven itself.——The boy’s name was Louis Silvie Zamperini. The son of Italian immigrants, he had come into theworld in Olean, New York, on January 26, 1917, eleven and a half pounds of baby under black hairas coarse as barbed wire. His father, Anthony, had been living on his own since age fourteen, first asa coal miner and boxer, then as a construction worker. His mother, Louise, was a petite, playfulbeauty, sixteen at marriage and eighteen when Louie was born. In their apartment, where only Italianwas spoken, Louise and Anthony called their boy Toots.From the moment he could walk, Louie couldn’t bear to be corralled. His siblings would recallhim careening about, hurdling flora, fauna, and furniture. The instant Louise thumped him into a chairand told him to be still, he vanished. If she didn’t have her squirming boy clutched in her hands, sheusually had no idea where he was.In 1919, when two-year-old Louie was down with pneumonia, he climbed out his bedroomwindow, descended one story, and went on a naked tear down the street with a policeman chasinghim and a crowd watching in amazement. Soon after, on a pediatrician’s advice, Louise and Anthonydecided to move their children to the warmer climes of California. Sometime after their train pulledout of Grand Central Station, Louie bolted, ran the length of the train, and leapt from the caboose.Standing with his frantic mother as the train rolled backward in search of the lost boy, Louie’s olderbrother, Pete, spotted Louie strolling up the track in perfect serenity. Swept up in his mother’s arms,Louie smiled. “I knew you’d come back,” he said in Italian.In California, Anthony landed a job as a railway electrician and bought a half-acre field on theedge of Torrance, population 1,800. He and Louise hammered up a one-room shack with no runningwater, an outhouse behind, and a roof that leaked so badly that they had to keep buckets on the beds.With only hook latches for locks, Louise took to sitting by the front door on an apple box with arolling pin in her hand, ready to brain any prowlers who might threaten her children.There, and at the Gramercy Avenue house where they settled a year later, Louise kept prowlers out,but couldn’t keep Louie in hand. Contesting a footrace across a busy highway, he just missed gettingbroadsided by a jalopy. At five, he started smoking, picking up discarded cigarette butts whilewalking to kindergarten. He began drinking one night when he was eight; he hid under the dinnertable, snatched glasses of wine, drank them all dry, staggered outside, and fell into a rosebush.On one day, Louise discovered that Louie had impaled his leg on a bamboo beam; on another, shehad to ask a neighbor to sew Louie’s severed toe back on. When Louie came home drenched in oilafter scaling an oil rig, diving into a sump well, and nearly drowning, it took a gallon of turpentineand a lot of scrubbing before Anthony recognized his son again.Thrilled by the crashing of boundaries, Louie was untamable. As he grew into his uncommonlyclever mind, mere feats of daring were no longer satisfying. In Torrance, a one-boy insurgency wasborn.
——If it was edible, Louie stole it. He skulked down alleys, a roll of lock-picking wire in his pocket.Housewives who stepped from their kitchens would return to find that their suppers had disappeared.Residents looking out their back windows might catch a glimpse of a long-legged boy dashing downthe alley, a whole cake balanced on his hands. When a local family left Louie off their dinner-partyguest list, he broke into their house, bribed their Great Dane with a bone, and cleaned out theiricebox. At another party, he absconded with an entire keg of beer. When he discovered that thecooling tables at Meinzer’s Bakery stood within an arm’s length of the back door, he began pickingthe lock, snatching pies, eating until he was full, and reserving the rest as ammunition for ambushes.When rival thieves took up the racket, he suspended the stealing until the culprits were caught and thebakery owners dropped their guard. Then he ordered his friends to rob Meinzer’s again.It is a testament to the content of Louie’s childhood that his stories about it usually ended with “ and then I ran like mad.” He was often chased by people he had robbed, and at least two peoplethreatened to shoot him. To minimize the evidence found on him when the police habitually came hisway, he set up