The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Posts Tagged ‘Billy Graham

Review: “Unbroken”

with 5 comments


Laura Hillenbrand

Random House/Fourth Estate, 2010/2011, 496pp., hardback, $27/£20

ISBN 978-1400064168/978-0007378012

This is a hard book to read. It is not the occasional profanity that makes it so, so much as the searing – sometimes very ugly – honesty and gripping profundity. The author, as far as I know not herself a believer, tells the story of Louis Zamperini, a wild kid with an unbroken spirit and a knack for finding trouble, to a teenager discovering a gift for distance running that carried him to the Olympics (he seemed destined to be the first man to break the four minute mile until WWII intervened), to a highly-skilled bombardier in a B-24 Liberator over the Pacific in the war against Japan, to a castaway adrift on a raft in a shark-infested ocean for 47 days, to a brutalised POW in a series of Japanese concentration camps, to an apparently free man chained to his hatred, to an alcoholic who could not break free of his guilt and anger. Zamperini was finally broken, but it was grace that broke him, and made him truly whole. He heard – very unwillingly at first – Billy Graham preach, and Christ broke in upon his untamed spirit and emptied him of self before granting him a strength that he had never had before. Very skilfully and engagingly written, you will find your pulse rising and falling with the twists and turns of the story; you might suck in your breath, hold your head in your hands, clench your fists, and weep tears as you read. The book showcases the heights and depths of the human spirit, prompting us both to consider that we are fearfully and wonderfully made and that we are fearfully and deeply depraved. For those with eyes to see, the story is a stunning study in providence. That superintending wisdom and power preserves a gifted, vigorous, self-reliant rebel, guiding him slowly but surely to the cross of Jesus Christ, and changes him into a gifted, vigorous, Christ-reliant servant who preaches the gospel to his once-torturers and sets out to find others who, like himself, need the best of friends and a true Saviour. A treat especially for those who appreciate stirring biography and (perhaps mainly military) history, elements of this telling might take it outside the orbit of some. Nevertheless, read and recommended with that awareness, I believe that this is a story worth reading, for it ultimately reveals a God worth praising.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 18 March 2011 at 08:42

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