Adrift but Unbroken

by brian lam

When their bomber crashed into the vast Pacific, in 1943, Louis Zamperini, Russell Phillips, and Francis McNamara’s odds were slim to none—even before their food and water ran out and the sharks began attacking. In an excerpt from her first book since Seabiscuit, the author reconstructs a historic struggle for survival.

Vanity Fair has an excerpt from Unbroken, about a hellish story of survival from plane crash to over a month at sea, and more. Hardly have I read of more suffering from sharks, sun, salt wounds, Japanese soldier-pilots, starvation, thirst and betrayal, in so few pages. I can’t wait to read the rest. Here’s a bit:

The sharks, which Louie thought were of the mako and reef species, were so close that the men would only have to extend their hands to touch them. The smallest were about six feet long; some were double that size. They bent themselves around the rafts as they swam, testing the fabric, dragging their fins along the bottom and sides, but not trying to get at the men on top. They seemed to be waiting for the men to come to them.

The sun sank, and it became sharply cold. The men used their hands to bail a few inches of water into each raft. Once their bodies warmed the water, they felt less chilled. Though exhausted, they fought the urge to sleep, afraid that a ship or submarine would pass and they’d miss it. Phil’s lower body, under the water, was warm enough, but his upper body was so cold that he shook.

VF’s also running a sidebar about survival. Most of it is cookie cutter, but survival experts did surprise me with this:

Don’t Be a Baby—Or a Control Freak
“The control freaks and the babies die. The ones who need to know what’s going on right now, or at least pretend they do, so they can control the situation—they probably die first. Then the babies die next, because they’re the ones saying, ‘I can’t deal with this! I’m going to wait for somebody to save me.’” —Willis

Read the rest at:

*Vanity Fair*


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