A trio of reading recommendations from the author of Unbroken.
Biographies of famous animals are rarities—and rarer still are those that become enormous bestsellers. Laura Hillenbrand’s majestic and award-winning Seabiscuit re-created the heyday of thoroughbred racing through the life of one of its most unlikely champions. With her rare ability to recreate scenes from history, the author has now published Unbroken, the inspiring story of one World War Two pilot’s experience of survival against the odds. Here, the author recommends three favorite reads.
By John Howard Griffin
“In the late 1950s, the white southern writer John Howard Griffin was dogged by a question: What is it really like to be black? The question led him to embark on a remarkable experiment. He shaved his head, and, using medication, makeup and a sunlamp, darkened his skin, then spent six weeks traversing the Deep South, living as a black man. Black Like Me, Griffin’s wrenching and sometimes terrifying memoir of his journey, captures the experience of being black in 1959 America, from the horror of lynching to the grinding indignity of searching for a bathroom open to blacks. With insight and compassion, Griffin explores the profoundly caustic impact that racism has on the souls of its victims and perpetrators. Griffin paid dearly for his efforts: after his story was publicized, residents of his Texas hometown threatened his life and burned him in effigy. Griffin was forced to flee to Mexico.”
By Irene Nemirovsky
“In 1940, as the Nazis descended on her adopted hometown of Paris, the Jewish writer Irene Nemirovsky fled with her family to the French countryside. In a notebook, she began penning a series of five novellas about the Nazi occupation, to be called Suite Française. In 1942, after she had completed two of the novellas, Nemirovsky was arrested, taken to Auschwitz, and murdered. Her children were soon taken into hiding. As she was whisked from her home, Nemirovsky’s daughter Denise picked up her mother’s suitcase, not knowing that the notebook was inside. For more than half a century, Denise was unable to bring herself to read the manuscript. When she finally did, she discovered a masterpiece. Nemirovsky wrote with exquisite skill and beauty, and her ability to craft believable, vivid, fully realized characters was second to none. The Napoleonic Wars had Tolstoy; France’s World War II had Nemirovsky.”
By Anne Frank
“In the last months of her life, this delightful, radiantly intelligent girl penned a diary that is everything—a chronicle of the yearnings, turbulence and joys of adolescence, a keenly observed work of history, and ultimately, a monumental tragedy. In its pages, Anne wrote of her wish to someday become a great writer. She didn’t know that she already was.”