Laura Hillenbrand is a brilliant writer. Ever since I saw the reviews, I couldn’t wait to read Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. From the opening lines, I was hooked:
All he could see, in every direction was water. It was June 23, 1943.
I’ve been recommending this book to everyone since chapter one. It’s an incredible, inspiring story— well-researched, well-documented, and well-told. Hillenbrand has a savvy eye for details. On p. 243, she had a break-narrative section about the ingenuity of Pacific POWs facing harsh conditions—
What the POWs couldn’t sabotage, they stole. They broke into shipping boxes, tapped bottles, lifted storage room doors off their hinges, raided ships’ galleys, and crawled up factory chutes. Scottish POWs who worked in the Mitsubishi food warehouse ran the most sophisticated operation. When the Japanese took their shoe sizes for work boots, the men asked for boots several sizes too big. They knitted special socks, some four feet long, and hoarded hollow bamboo reeds. Once at the sites, they leaned casually against sugar sacks, stabbed the reeds in, then ran the reeds into the socks, allowing sugar to pour through the reeds until the socks were full.
Scotland has its green hills and its sheep. Fair Isle knitting, using strands of different colored yarn to make patterns, was invented there. It’s the technique I’m using for the family Christmas stockings.
I’m trying to imagine those Scottish POWs, thousands of miles from their green hills, trying to remember what they’d been taught or seen their mothers (most likely) do, turning long strands patiently loop by loop into a useful object, using who-knows-what for yarn and needles, working in secret.
I just finished the row for the heel turn. Leena’s stocking will be able to hold pounds of sugar soon.