Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Louie’s courage soared…answering close encounters with mortality by slapping the face of the unknown with the hands of determination and survival
Every American was wounded by the events of September 11, 2001, and not unlike the bombing of Pearl Harbor, it is one of the tragedies in our country’s history that shattered our rose-colored glasses and amputated our innate belief in fairness. Members of our Greatest Generation remember where they were when they heard our homeland was under siege and we all know what we were doing when the planes hit the World Trade Center. 30 Bookers and 3 special guests celebrated the beginning of our 9th year by donning the red, white, and blue in honor of our book selection, our veterans, those who lost their lives in a field in Pennsylvania, at the Pentagon, and in New York and with gratefulness to our troops still defending our freedom on foreign soil.
Beverly Dossett assumed the role of backup quarterback when Marlene’s home suffered its own version of Hurricane Isaac and we thank her for coming to the rescue and to co-host, Rosemary Farmer. The Dossett’s was decked out in liberty’s colors…and all that was missing was a parade even though our 4th of July flag bearer was in the house…we appreciate Gary Freer for escorting our guest of honor to the meeting. We are excited to be back again reading, discussing and sharing our passion for books with our fellow book lovers. Special greetings to Kay, guest of Pat Faherty, Gail Brummett who was attending her first meeting, Susie Johnson, Lee McFarlane, and Lee Durso who were able to join us again.
John Tucker, Pinnacle’s jewel, master storyteller, proud veteran, and extraordinary friend was given a warm Bookers’ ovation when he arrived and proceeded to captivate our group with personal stories of his service to our country. The depth of his passion and his zest for life has carried “this farm boy” through ups and downs, but, “I wouldn’t take a million dollars for the experience, but wouldn’t give you a nickel to go back.” Although Unbroken accurately depicted the events of World War II, he did take issue with a few incidents…one in particular, when Louie was tangled in a downed aircraft, plunging eighty feet underwater and resurfaced – “that couldn’t have happened.” John spoke of how our propaganda fueled hatred to the point that recruits were motivated to kill the Japanese. In all theaters of the war, most likely this attitude was fostered on all sides as acrimony and fear dwelled in the minds of these young men. In response to the question as to why so many of our aircraft were lost in non-combat incidents, John commented that at twenty-one he was “too old” to be a fighter pilot, but the “youngsters” in command often had such an invincible man mentality and gung-ho attitude, they often took risks that unfortunately resulted in the loss of their aircraft. American newspaper and radio commentator, Walter Winchell, once said that he would rather “have his son fighting in Germany than in flight school in Pensacola.” The last entry in John’s flight log was an unsuccessful search and rescue mission, ten hours over the Pacific, looking for a downed plane. Louie Zamperini’s tale continues to linger in his memories and he states, “The Japanese are lucky that the war ended before I arrived.” John’s legacy is vested in his unwavering faith, his love of country, family, and his fellow man. We appreciate his sharing time with us and are blessed to have him in our lives. And, it didn’t go unnoticed that our large group showed off their party manners…maybe we need to have an honored guest in-house to keep us in check.
Patty Evans, our pictographic queen, donned one of Gary Freer’s flight suits to lead the review of Unbroken backed up by a montage of photographs…some provided by Bonnie Magee, others, downloaded from the Internet. She dove into researching the author and Laura’s plight in writing this book and if given an opportunity, would adopt Louie Zamperini, bring him to Pinnacle, and anoint him the ‘Grand Poopah’ of the Airshow – we can see the 2013 billboards now! As Patty pointed out, this book could have had four separate reviews, each one detailing a portion of this incredible man’s journey into “extremity.” From a “cunning and incorrigible delinquent” as a young boy, to a world-class runner competing in the Olympics, to a young lieutenant bombardier on a doomed flight adrift on a tiny raft in thousands of miles of open ocean, to missing in action, to assumed dead, to a prisoner of war, to a returning soldier drowning in nightmares of the past and consumed by retribution, to a Billy Graham tent revival that changed his life empowering acts of forgiveness of those responsible for his injured soul… culminating in the triumph of the human spirit. Articles and video interviews are aplenty on the Internet if you are interested in more information on Louie.
Sandy Molander commented if you ever get the opportunity, visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum…built in 1955 as a “no-blame” museum it conveys the facts of atomic bombing and contributes to the abolition of nuclear weapons – “the images will never leave you.” The Freer’s recently visited the National P.O.W. War Museum near Andersonville, Georgia, built in 1998 dedicated to American P.O.W. experiences across all branches of the service and all wars. Susie Johnson was reminded how significant childhood memories are as Louie detailed the aromas from his mother’s kitchen…how important it is to build traditions and foster love for our children and grandchildren…you never know what they are going to remember. And as Louie said, what kept him alive was the belief that “dignity is as essential to life as food, water and shelter.” Gloria Tucker offered she now understands why “American-made” is entrenched in the essence of so many. For me, the book brought to light the problematic issue of treatment of prisoners of war…they are indeed in that position because they are threats to our country. Most have been programed since birth about the dangers of their ultimate enemies and punishment is emotionally driven when you feel the world would be better off without them…maybe the answer is in Louie’s mandate of seemliness…or in the words of the wife of the pilot of United Flight 93 that crashed into what once was a common field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, “If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.”
If the exit polls are correct, copies of Unbroken will be scarce at our garage sale.
I know many of you have been anxiously awaiting this news: Life of Pi, our December 2005 selection, has been made into a movie – maybe it will answer the question once and for all – what the heck was this book about? Is Richard Parker a real tiger or a coping mechanism?
“Grey” is still dominating the top three slots of the NY Times bestseller list selling over fifty million books…and at # 6, Bared to You by Sylvia Day, which is another self-published novel picked up by a major U.S. publisher…an erotic romance novel…and in the # 7 slot is Where We Belong by Emily Griffin is described as another story about the liberation of a demure vanilla woman.” A trend? In this mix is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn which Pat and Donna are struggling with.
Born Mad, a memoir/self-improvement book by local author, Robyn Wheeler, was sent to the PWC post office box. She expressed interest in addressing our general meeting but our schedule is full for this year. The book chronicles her battle with dysthymic disease which is a genetic mental disorder causing a chemical imbalance in the brain. She has suffered with chronic anger, depression and anxiety for four decades writing her story in an attempt to offer help to anyone suffering with this condition. I have the book if anyone is interested.
The following books have been recommended as possible choices for the remaining months of our schedule (February, March, April & May.) We will discuss these at the next meeting.
Mary Jacobs: Rules of Civility set in New York in 1938, debut author, Amor Toles – centers around 3 friends in a world of gin and jazz – being compared to The Great Gatsby
Marsha Smith: The Wolves of Andover, historical fiction, prequel to debut novel, The Heretic’s Daughter by Dallas author, Kathleen Kent.
Melba Holt: Dark River Road by Virginia Brown, set in fictional small town in Mississippi.
JoDee/Sandy/Bonnie: The Story of Beautiful Girl, Rachel Simon set in 1968. A young white woman with developmental disability deeply in love with an African American deaf man are both locked away in the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded. They escape and find refuge in a farmhouse of a retired schoolteacher & widow, which begins a forty-year saga.
Numerous recommendations for: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet by Jamie Ford set in Seattle during the internment of Japanese during World War II – possible May selection
MN & JoDee: The Good Dream by Donna VanLiere, (similar to Room in that it involves a young boy in a very bad situation) set in 1950 in Tennessee...heart-wrenching and heart-warming.
Leslie, Jane, Cherry: The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barriers, and The Dream both memoirs by 96 years old Harry Bernstein set in Lancashire English mill town about a “wall” figuratively dividing the Jews and Christians followed by his journey to America.
We are concerned we might be getting too “genre heavy” if we select more memoirs and/or non-fiction. We’ll talk about it next month.
Gerry Roeder sent the following link: www.wegivebooks.org/ … a great site that donates books.
COLOR CODING SYSTEM
WHITE: LIGHT READ
PINK: MODERATELY CHALLENGING
October 9th: Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
Home of Lee McFarlane
Reviewer: Colleen Hinckley
November 13th: The Tender Bar, A Memoir by J.R. Moehringer
Home of Jane Freer, co-hosted by Cherry Fugitt
Reviewer: Kathy Mueller
December 11th Bookers Holiday Party
A Young Wife by Pam Lewis & Back When We Were Grownups
by Anne Tyler
Home of Jean Alexander
Reviewer: To be determined
January 8, 2013 My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
Home of Daryl Daniels
Reviewer: Beverly Dossett
February 12th Home of Janet Erwin
Possible Reviewer: Jean Alexander
March 12th Home of Charlotte Pechacek
Possible Reviewer: Kimberly Hand
April 9th Home of MN Stanky, co-hosted by Kimberly Hand
Possible Reviewer: Melanie Prebis
May 14th 6th Annual Wine & Cheese Evening Meeting
Home of Melanie Prebis